Traditional Articulation Therapy



Cite this article as:
Bowen, C. (2011). Traditional articulation therapy. Retrieved from on [insert the date that you retrieved the file here].

What constitutes the so-called 'traditional' approach to 'articulation therapy'? There is no single definition, for indeed a number of beliefs and practices may be involved, and the term clearly means different things to different people, depending on what they thought was generally done.


Some of the procedures that have characterised speech-language pathology assessment and intervention for functional speech disorders (articulation disorders), and which may be considered by many SLPs/SLTs to embrace 'traditional' approaches, were described by Powers (1971). She maintained that the 'stimulus methods' developed and described by Travis (1931), had remained the core of the majority of treatment methodologies used by speech-language pathologists.

Powers began her therapy with auditory discrimination training. A sound was identified, named, discriminated from other speech sounds, and then discriminated in contexts of increasing complexity.

Hallmark sequence

Permutations of the traditional approach, always putting discrimination of sounds produced by others first, are to be found in Berry and Eisenson (1956), Carrell (1968), Garrett (1973), Sloane and Macaulay (1968) and of course, Van Riper (1978), who wrote:

"The hallmark of traditional therapy lies in its sequence of activities for: (1) identifying the standard sound, (2) discriminating it from its error through scanning and comparing, (3) varying and correcting the various productions until it is produced correctly, and finally, (4) strengthening and stabilizing it in all contexts and speaking situations." Van Riper, 1978 p. 179

Therapy resources designed for the administration of traditional approaches to speech therapy for children's speech sound disorders continue to be published, some incorporating aspects of other programs and methodologies, and some with evidence of internal development.

Therapist as Teacher

Adopting the role of teacher, the therapist guides the child through a series of carefully sequenced and graded steps, usually one phoneme at a time. The procedure starts with ear training, and goes on through increasingly complex production contexts. Finally the phoneme is used in spontaneous conversational speech, and the emphasis moves to self-monitoring.

The child takes a "passive learner" role, with active exploration and processing of the sound system not specifically encouraged. The approach, rather than being communication centred, is "therapy" centred, with the child learning what the therapist sets out to teach.


Following the example of the medical profession, published evidence of the success of traditional approaches has been mainly in the form of case illustrations and clinical descriptions (for example, Powers, 1971; Travis, 1931; Van Riper & Irwin, 1959).


Berry, M.D., & Eisenson, J.(1956). Speech disorders: Principals and practices of therapy. New York: Appleton Century Crofts.

Carrell, A.A. (1968). Disorders of articulation. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

Garrett, E.R. (1973). Programmed articulation therapy. In D. Wolfe & D.J. Golding (Eds.). Articulation and learning. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas.

Powers, M.H. (1971). Clinical educational procedures in functional disorders of articulation. In L.E. Travis, (Ed.). Handbook of speech pathology and audiology. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Raz, M. G. (2009). One clinician's streamlining of traditional articulation therapy. In C. Bowen, Children's speech sound disorders. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 14-17.

Sloane, H.N. Jr., & Macaulay, B.D. (Eds.). (1968). Operant procedures in remedial speech and language training. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Travis, L.E. (1931). Speech pathology. New York: Appleton.

Van Riper, C. (1978). Speech correction: Principles and methods. (6th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice-Hall.

Van Riper, C. & Irwin, J.V. (1959).Voice and articulation. London: Pitman Medical Publishing Company.

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Traditional Articulation Therapy (47 slides)


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