Jenica Jospeh from the Swain Center for Listening, Communicating and Learning in Santa Rosa shares with the NAA what she most enjoys about working with aphasia clients and that encountering negativity is a challenging part of her work.
Tell us more about what you do and what services you provide to persons with Aphasia
The Swain Center is a professional corporation which strives to provide exceptional speech and language evaluation and therapy services. Our treatment programs include evaluations, consultations, and recommendations; customized individual treatment programs; specialized materials, activities, and suggestions to improve communication skills; patient and family support for coping with communication loss; and special rehabilitation software and workbooks for added stimulation and treatment. All of our speech-language pathologists are trained in providing these individualized therapies and assessments to persons with Aphasia. Our therapists and aides who participate in the Creative Communication group therapy have a passion for multimodality learning and art as well as increasing the communicative competence of persons with Aphasia.
What do you like most about your work?
I most enjoy helping clients find hope in their communication circumstances, whatever they may be. Functional communication is a basic human right and sometimes after a person has aphasia they feel cut off from others as their language or language processing may be more difficult or just different for them post-stroke. I enjoy helping client realize their strengths, strengthen their weaknesses, and discover new ways of expression.
What is different about your therapy approach?
Creative Communication was created to offer an engaging, interactive, and positive environment for persons with aphasia to enhance cognitive linguistic and executive functioning skills through the exploration of various artistic mediums. Our group is lead by a speech-language pathologist and a teaching assistant. The group structure is relaxed and conversational with everyone working through the same activities, even visiting family members. We ascribe to the “all for one and one for all” idea and view art as an effective cognitive linguistic problem solving strategy that allows for and enables expression of emotions or ideas and is beneficial for everyone, not just persons with aphasia. We encourage functional communication and use various structured activities and music to engage the whole brain. Traditional therapeutic treatment approaches for aphasia rehabilitation and counseling for communication disorders are incorporated as needed.
What do you find most challenging?
I find negativity to be the most challenging part. Negative self-talk or patterns of “stinking thinking” impact clients mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physiologically and are a huge hurdle to overcome in the therapeutic process as it is something each client has to overcome independently.
Tell us your favorite success story with a client
My favorite success story is about a client, who I will call Bob. Bob came to us after seeing our information in a flyer at a local community resource center. He was just a few months post stroke and was experiencing significant short term memory, word finding, and expressive language impairments. This was very frustrating for him as he had a diverse career that included being a coach, author, public speaker, and active member of various community activities and volunteer programs. Prior to his stroke, Bob was fluent in two languages and enjoyed helping others with their citizenship papers and learning English. As you can imagine, Bob was very frustrated and depressed that he could no longer live his life with ease or easily and fluently speak either of his two languages. Bob began attending weekly Creative Communication and also started an additional therapeutic program offered at The Swain Center. After a little over a year, Bob graduated from Creative Communication. He had recently returned from a solo trip to Mexico and had been accepted to a local senior’s art program in the town he was from. I was very proud of Bob and the journey of healing he let me be a part of and the growth that he made in the time he was with us.
Would you say the NAA listing has been helpful in connecting clients to your services?
The Swain Center services clients throughout the North Bay area including Sonoma, Napa, Marin, and Mendocino counties. Because of this the NAA listing has been a valuable resource for persons with aphasia and their families. The listing is a quick and easy way for individual to locate nearby resources, and establish local relationships and contacts to help them navigate their recovery journey.