Many people with aphasia have difficulty saying more than one or two words at a time. Response Elaboration Training (RET) is a therapy technique designed to expand on the things that people with aphasia say. It encourages using longer phrases and more related words. The goal of this therapy is to improve conversation and word recall. It can be very meaningful for the person with aphasia because it encourages conversation. There is usually not one “right answer” and the topics can be anything of interest.
As a therapy task, the speech-language pathologist (SLP) will start by presenting a picture or drawing. The SLP will ask the person with aphasia to describe it, or what is happening in it. For instance, the SLP might show a picture of a woman eating cake. The person with aphasia might respond, “woman eat.”
The SLP will reinforce what was said by saying “Yes, the woman is eating!” The SLP will then attempt to expand the sentence by asking a question such as, “What is the woman eating?” Depending on the person with aphasia’s abilities, the SLP will continue to provide support and give an example of a full sentence. The SLP might say, “The woman is eating birthday cake.” The person with aphasia can then repeat what the SLP said to reinforce the sentence.
RET can also be used during conversation. Instead of presenting a picture, the SLP and person with aphasia might be talking about plans for the weekend. If the person with aphasia says “daughter,” the SLP can ask questions in order to expand on the single-word response.
Response Elaboration Training has been used with people with many types of aphasia. It can be especially helpful for people with nonfluent, expressive aphasia.