What Is A Speech & Language Therapist?
The job title ‘Speech and Language Therapist’ is a protected title. It can only be used by someone who has completed and passed a recognised degree level qualification and is registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC). Most Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) are also registered with one or both of the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists (RCSLT) and the Association of Speech & Language Therapists in Independent Practice (ASLTIP).
SLTs work with people who have communication disorders and/or physical problems with eating and drinking. Most SLTs do not offer elocution lessons or voice coaching.
How does a Speech & Language Therapist Work?
When a young person has a communication problem, there are lots of ways an SLT can help:
- Assessing the young person’s communication skills and ‘putting a finger on’ what the problem is.
- Working directly with the young person to help them learn new communication skills and understand more about their communication.
- Working with the young person, their family, teachers and carers to make a plan of how best to help.
- Helping the family, teachers and carers of a young person to learn about and understand the communication problem.
- Showing families, teachers and carers useful strategies that will help the young person to learn new communication skills and make the best of what they have already learned.
- Guiding families, teachers and carers so that therapy activities become part of the young person’s daily life.
- Referring the young person to other professionals that may be able to help.
- Writing detailed reports of a young person’s communication skills that can be shared with others who work with them.
The most important thing to remember about communication difficulties is that no two people are the same. The SLT’s role is to work with each individual client and their family to help them find the techniques and approaches that best develop that client’s communication skills. What works for one individual may not necessarily work for another.
To get the most out of any SLT treatment programme, clients need to work on their communication in between sessions with the SLT. It’s a bit like going on a diet, you’re not going to see very good results if you only diet for an hour once a week! For most young people, daily work little and often is much better than relying on less frequent but longer sessions. For that reason, SLTs will often spend a lot of time training family members, carers and school staff so that they can support the clients communication throughout their daily life. After all, SLTs may have lots of specialist knowledge but you parents are the experts on your child!
Once the initial assessment is complete, the SLT will usually be able to give you a rough idea of how many therapy sessions will be beneficial. Having said that, there is no prescribed number of sessions that will be more or less effective, it is up to the SLT to make a judgement based on his/her clinical skills & experience. Most SLTs will set and agree a number of sessions with the client and carry out a progress review after that.