Aphasia and Friendship: The Role and Perspectives of Speech-Language Pathologists
Purpose Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) who work with people with aphasia focus on assessment and intervention to support improved communication outcomes for their clients. Friendship, a key component of quality of life, often depends on communicative interaction, and many people with aphasia report having reduced social circles. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of SLPs working with clients with aphasia on their role in supporting friendship development and maintenance. Method An online survey composed of questions addressing SLP perspectives and goal setting, assessment, and treatment practices related to aphasia and friendship was distributed to SLPs across the United States. Survey data were analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Results Forty-seven SLPs completed the survey. While many SLPs reported that the friendships of their clients with aphasia were impacted by aphasia and that it was within their scope of practice to support friendship development and maintenance, many did not specifically assess or target friendship and friendship outcomes in the treatment plan. SLPs identified barriers and facilitators to focusing on friendship within the context of speech and language therapy. Conclusions Findings suggest the majority of participating SLPs were interested in addressing friendship with clients with aphasia; however, they experienced barriers in practice. Further examination of SLP perspectives and clinical practice regarding friendship and aphasia is warranted. Additionally, research investigating effective assessment and therapeutic methods that target friendship in aphasia is needed to support clinical practice and the well-being of clients with aphasia. Supplemental Material https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.15032217.