Lady Estelle Wolfson, Dr Sarah Northcott, Professor Averil Mansfield & Professor Sir Mark Walport

Awardee: Dr Sarah Northcott, City University

Award Type:

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Title:

Adapting a therapy to improve social participation and mood for people with language difficulties following a stroke

Description of research:


Around one quarter of stroke survivors have aphasia, which means they have difficulty talking, understanding, reading or writing. People with aphasia are at risk of becoming depressed and isolated. However, due to their language difficulties they are often excluded from stroke research exploring effective interventions.


We want to explore whether an existing therapy, Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), can be used with people with aphasia. We also want to collect information to help us design a future large-scale trial evaluating this approach. SFBT is a ‘talking therapy’, which explores a person’s strengths and resilience to help build positive change in their lives.


There will be two stages in the project. During the initial Development Phase we will investigate how best to adapt the therapy for people with post-stroke aphasia and will write a therapy manual.

Thirty-two participants with long-term aphasia will be invited to participate in the second stage of the project. Everyone will receive the usual care offered to them by their local NHS, social services, and voluntary organisations. Half the participants (‘intervention group’), selected randomly, will additionally receive up to six SFBT therapy sessions. All participants will take part in three interviews at three month intervals (for the intervention group this will be immediately before and after therapy, and then three months later). We will ask them about how their aphasia affects their mood, confidence and everyday life using questionnaires. In addition, everyone will participate in ‘in-depth’ less-structured interviews exploring either their experience of the therapy (intervention group), or exploring their experiences of usual care, and how this could be improved.

Expected outcomes

We anticipate that it will be possible to adapt SFBT so that it works well for people with aphasia; and that this project will enable us to design a successful large-scale study.