WHAT WE DO
Strong Story Lab.
Strong Story Lab is directed by
Katie A. Strong, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
at Central Michigan University.
As humans, we are built to be storytellers. In fact, some believe that we are the stories we tell. Stories allow us to process both big and small events that happen in our lives. Stories allow us to make meaning in our lives. Think about it, when you meet up with someone you’ll probably hear or say something like, ‘Let me tell you what happened..’ or ‘You’re not going to believe this…’ as you share about your daily and bigger life events. Stories influence our identity. How we tell a story influences how we feel about ourselves. And likewise, how we feel about ourselves influences how we tell a story. Major life health events such as stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI) can impact identity negatively.
Words and language are the fuel that stories need to run. But what happens when you don’t have the words to tell your story?
In addition to impacting identity negatively, stroke and TBI may also damage language skills and cause aphasia or other communication disorders. Aphasia is a language disorder that impacts a person’s ability to use language (talking and writing) and understand language (listening and reading). Aphasia damages language, the essential tool needed for storytelling. Not only are stories how we make meaning out of life events, they are how we connect with other people and form relationships. People with aphasia and other communication disorders are at risk for isolation, losing friends, and having a poorer quality of life.
The Strong Story Lab researches and creates evidence-based treatment techniques for clinicians to use to support (or co-construct) stories with people who have aphasia or other cognitive and communication challenges. Though the process of co-construction, people with communication disorders can begin to make sense of the chaos caused by this major life event and losing their language, and possibly find new hope in their life. Dr. Strong’s dissertation work, the My Story Project, created a process based on McAdams work, that clinicians might use to support exploring a life story narrative with persons with aphasia. The story had three parts, my life before my stroke and aphasia, my stroke and aphasia, and my future life and goals.