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Cycles Approach to Speech Therapy

What is the Cycles Approach to speech therapy:  According to Bernthal, Bankson, & Flipsen, 2013, the cycles approach is a linguistic based intervention approach used with individuals diagnosed with multiple sound errors. The target of the cycles is to help children acquire appropriate phonological patterns rather than eliminate inappropriate phonological patterns (Bernthal et al, 2013).  There are seven to eight steps in the cycles approach that the clinician follows during therapy sessions (Bernthal et al, 2013). It is suggested that each phoneme is targeted approximately 60 minutes per cycle (Bernthal et al, 2013). Once the first cycle is complete, the clinician moves on to the next cycle. It is recommended that only one phonological pattern is targeted at the beginning of the cycles intervention in order to allow the child to focus on one phonological pattern (Bernthal et al, 2013). Patterns should not be mixed (e.g. initial /s/ with final /k/) until the client has reached the third or fourth cycle (Bernthal et al, 2013). 


1. Review: Reflect on previous session’s word cards with target phonemes. 

2. Auditory Bombardment: Amplified auditory stimulation should be given for 1 – 2 minutes: the clinician will read around 12 words that contain the target pattern for the session. (Kinnane, D., 2019)

3. Target word cards: The client draws, colors, or pastes pictures of 3-5 target words on large index cards. Child repeats the words modeled by the clinic. (Kinnane, D., 2019)

4. Production Practice through Experiential Play: While playing games, clinician and child take turns naming the pictures on the cards. Clinician provides models and tactile cues. The child should achieve 100% accuracy (choose words that are the easiest for the child to produce) (Kinnane, D., 2019)

5. Stimulability Probe: The clinician asks the child to say a bunch of words that contain the target pattern for the nest session. Use sound that is easiest for the child to be targeted during the next session.

6. Auditory Bombardment: Repeat step 2

7. Home Program: The child practices 2 minutes per day by having a parent or aide read the list aloud and then naming the pictures cards of the production practice words. 


1. Bernthal, J. E., Bankson, N. W., & Flipsen, P. (2013). Articulation and phonological disorders:  speech sound disorders in children. Boston: Pearson.

2. Kinnane, D. (2019, February 2). How to treat speech sound problems 1: the Cycles Approach. Retrieved Sept 26, 2020, from

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