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People with aphasia’s perception of the therapeutic alliance in aphasia rehabilitation post stroke: A thematic analysis

Lawton, M and Haddock, G and Conroy, P and Serrant, L and Sage, K (2018) People with aphasia’s perception of the therapeutic alliance in aphasia rehabilitation post stroke: A thematic analysis. Aphasiology, 32 (12). pp. 1397-1417. ISSN 0268-7038

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Abstract

© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Background: The therapeutic alliance has been found to be a critical component of treatment delivery in mental health interventions. This construct may have the potential to inform both treatment efficacy and adherence in aphasia rehabilitation. However, little is known about how people with aphasia perceive therapeutic alliance construction in the context of aphasia rehabilitation. Aims: This study aimed to investigate people with aphasias’ subjective experiences and reflections of constructing and maintaining therapeutic alliances in aphasia rehabilitation. Methods & procedures: In-depth interviews were conducted with eighteen people with aphasia who had received aphasia rehabilitation following a stroke. Interviews were subject to thematic analysis. Outcomes & results: Data analysis revealed five core themes: (1) readiness to contribute to the alliance; (2) proximity with the therapist; (3) perceived attunement with the therapist; (4) receiving information; and (5) collaborative engagement. The therapist’s perceived ability to read and respond effectively to individuals’ relational and situational needs contributed to the success of the alliance. Conclusions: These findings offer novel insights into current practice, highlighting considerable variation in alliance formation across the profession, with ineffectual alliances obstructing engagement and eroding hope and effective alliances promoting adherence and instilling hope. Further research is recommended to understand which aspects of the therapeutic alliance are essential for optimising therapeutic efficacy.

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