Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 8-7-2020


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Alexander Kranjec

Committee Member

Sarah Wallace

Committee Member

Suzanne Barnard


psychology, neuropsychology, creative arts therapy, aphasia, psychotherapy, assessment


Aphasia describes the broad experience of disrupted language production or comprehension acquired after structural changes in the brain. These changes, usually associated with stroke, tumor, or cortical degeneration, are often co-occurring with other symptoms, such as emotional dysregulation, partial paralysis, and difficult social, occupational, and community relationships. Common approaches to research and rehabilitation with persons managing aphasia highlight conversation and semantic retrieval, with a lack in literature considering the diversity of symptoms and responses. Questions arise as to the ways that psychotherapies, typically language- centered, can be adapted to collaborative, low-verbal approaches that attend to the range of individual symptoms and expressions experienced after stroke or other brain incident. This research considered the question: How does participating in a creative arts psychotherapy program influence cognitive and clinical therapeutic outcomes for a person with aphasia? Using quantitative and qualitative methods guided by an integrative, relational neuropsychology, this research explored the complexity of experiences accompanying language loss and neurorehabilitation through two case studies where participants engaged in a 5-6 session creative arts psychotherapy program. Cognitive outcomes evidenced clinically significant changes in perceptual-motor, executive function, and memory tasks, and limited differences in language production. Clinical therapeutic outcomes included improved mood, engagement, and relational experiences for both participants, evidenced through clinical observations and participant self-report at both the session and program levels. An integrative approach to psychotherapy with people managing aphasia is discussed, contributing to the research in clinical neuropsychology, relational theory, and creative arts therapy.