Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Interdisciplinary Health Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Nickola W. Nelson

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Lagerwey

Third Advisor

Dr. Barbara B. Shadden


Transition, visual impairment, disabilities, blindness, NLTS2, Postsecondary


Stroke and subsequent aphasia can impact a person’s identity negatively, interfering with quality of life. Co-constructing personal narratives about stroke and other aspects of a person’s life is a promising intervention for addressing identity issues. This series of three dissertation studies explored key aspects related to identity, personal narratives, and the perceived impact of telling one’s story.

Study 1 involved a survey examining whether speech-language pathologists view themselves as having a role in supporting the reconstruction of self-identity in adults with aphasia through the use of personal narratives. Results revealed that, whereas the majority of respondents viewed themselves as having a role in supporting self-identity, less than one-half reported targeting self-identity directly in treatment of recent cases. Additionally, approximately 40% reported having had no educational activities in selfidentity and in personal narratives. Results indicated a potential gap between the perceived role in supporting self-identity and existing educational activities. This could account for infrequent use of techniques used to support self-identity in treatment.

Study 2 used a collective case study design to explore a framework for clinicians working to co-construct narratives with adults who have aphasia. This involved developing and piloting a ‘My Story’ protocol to co-construct personal narratives in adults with aphasia. The seven session protocol was piloted with three participants who have aphasia. Results showed that the co-construction process allowed for participants to organize and make meaning of the events of their lives, including goals and imagining the future. Participants reported co-construction to be a highly positive experience.

Study 3 used qualitative interviews with the three participants in the ‘My Story’ Project to learn about their perceptions of the work. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to explore self-reported changes resulting from participating in the project. Results revealed three super-ordinate themes: More than a story: My life came back to life; Co-constructing ‘My Story’ was a positive emotional experience; and Hope. The study provided support of the meaningfulness of co-constructing a personal narrative in contributing to positive identity changes and communication confidence.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access