Clinical psychologists’ experiences of supporting people with aphasia as part of a multidisciplinary team

Prof Doc Thesis

Keleher, J. 2023. Clinical psychologists’ experiences of supporting people with aphasia as part of a multidisciplinary team. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsKeleher, J.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Background: Aphasia is a communication disability resulting from acquired brain injury and affects more than 350,000 people in the UK (Stroke Association, n.d.). People with aphasia experience numerous emotional and psychosocial challenges associated with loss of language. Psychological support for people with aphasia in the UK tends to be provided by clinical psychologists or clinical neuropsychologists working in NHS services as part of a multidisciplinary team (MDT). However, there is no research to date exploring how they experience supporting people with aphasia.

Aims: This research aims to explore how clinical psychologists make sense of and address the emotional outcomes associated with aphasia, and how they experience working as part of an MDT when supporting people with aphasia, including what roles they take and what they find useful when doing this work.

Methods: This is a qualitative study employing the use of individual, semi-structured interviews with seven clinical psychologists who have experience of supporting people with aphasia as part of their work in an NHS MDT context. Data was analysed using reflexive Thematic Analysis (TA).

Results: Four main themes and seven subthemes were constructed through the analysis. The main themes were: 1) Working with Distress; 2) The MDT as a Resource; 3) Challenging Assumptions – Defending Capacity and Championing Psychological Support; and 4) Moving Beyond Language – (Re)Connecting with What’s Important.

Conclusions/Implications: Clinical psychologists employ an individualised approach to making sense of and working with emotional responses to aphasia, including working sensitively with frustration. They discussed supporting colleagues to understand and address psychological aspects of aphasia and viewed interdisciplinary working as important, with a particular emphasis on joint working with SLT colleagues. The findings provide unique insights into how clinical psychologists work with people with aphasia and have implications relating to the development of training resources

Keywordsaphasia; aphasic; emotion; emotional outcome; emotional support; mental health; therapy; clinical psychologist; clinical psychology
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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Publication dates
Print31 Oct 2023
Publication process dates
Completed12 Jul 2023
Deposited31 Oct 2023
Copyright holder© 2023, The Author
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