Expressive problems

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What to expect

Expressive problems

An expressive problem is a difficulty in expressing thoughts or messages clearly and effectively. This can either be written expression or verbal expression. People with expressive language problems often have difficulties in finding the correct word to use and have limited grasp on grammar, including difficulties with time and tense words.

Speech and language therapy helps individuals with expressive problems by improving and supporting their expressive communication. Speech and language therapy will use a variety of methods and techniques to support an individual's expressive problems, treatment plans will be tailored to the individual's specific needs and abilities.

What are expressive problems?

Expressive problems occur when individuals have difficulties expressing messages. This could be both written and / or verbal. Expressive language problems can be extremely frustrating for both the individual and their family. Individuals with expressive problems may additionally have receptive problems, where their understanding of spoken and written language and writing may be affected. People with expressive problems may also have difficulties in organising their thought processes. This has a knock on affect, and then causes difficulty in expressing thoughts to people as well as writing their ideas down on paper. Expressive problems can mean that the connection between ideas and words is lost. Sound and pronunciation of speech may also be disrupted and affected by such a loss.

What causes expressive problems?

Expressive language problems in adults are usually caused by injury or damage to the brain. This could be following a stroke or after head trauma of some kind. There are a number of problems which are associated with expressive language problems, some of these are:

  • Inappropriate use of vocabulary
  • Inability to explain things in a logical way
  • Word finding difficulties
  • Incorrect word substitution
  • Finds it difficult to listen

This is not an exhaustive list, and so there are many other signs and symptoms. It will depend upon each individual and the extent of brain damage sustained.

What issues caused by expressive problems can speech and language therapy help with?

The following areas may be improved with the help of speech and language therapy:

Both the speech and language therapist and patient will collaborate and discuss the best areas to work on and improve, in order to progress throughout treatment and help with the expression of language.

How does speech and language therapy help expressive problems?

Speech and language therapy helps people with expressive problems and will be related to each individual and reflect what they want to improve on. Speech and language therapists may suggest new techniques for speech production and develop exercises to improve the speech and language of each individual. It is important to realise that each case is different and therapy will reflect this focusing on different areas for different people.

Benefits of speech and language therapy include:

What would speech and language therapy treatment for expressive problems involve?

Speech and language therapy treatment will include one or more of the following methods:

An initial assessment will be carried out by one of our speech and language therapists. This will highlight any worries and difficulties concerning communication and speech. An initial assessment will also provide a chance for you to share any concerns you may have, and allow you to discuss what you would like to work on and improve.

Specific treatments which can help individuals with expressive problems include:

How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment?

To arrange an assessment with one of our speech and language therapists, please call 0330 0885 643 or email and one of our team will be happy to help you.


Expressive problems can affect adults who have had a stroke, traumatic brain injury or have lifelong disorders. Speech and language therapy can help treat and support individuals with expressive problems. Treatment may be in the form of speech or writing. The speech and language therapist will create individualised treatment programmes, tailored to the specific needs of the client. For an appointment with one of our speech and language therapists, please email or call 0330 0885 643.

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Next steps

To speak to a Speech and Language Therapist or to book an appointment, call us on 0161 883 0111 or email


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All our speech and language therapists are registered with the RCSLT and the HCPC

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