What is Speech and Language Therapy?
ommunication is complex. As with any complex system, things can sometimes go wrong. Many people have difficulties with:
• the structures of language (understanding and using different types of sentences);
• knowing how to use language appropriately in social situations (social communication);
• learning and finding the right words (vocabulary) to make themselves understood;
• producing specific speech sounds within words;
• saying sentences in a fluent and easy manner (without stuttering).
These are just some of the difficulties a Speech and Language Therapist will come across on a regular basis.
Communication Difficulties affect both young and older people. When a child has a difficulty developing Speech, Language or Communication Skills this is referred to this as a Developmental Speech/ Language Impairment. If an adult develops a Speech, Language or Communication difficulty as a result of an Event (e.g. Stroke, Brain Injury) this is referred to this as an Acquired Speech/ Language Impairment.
Communication is complex. As with any complex system, things can sometimes go wrong.
Speech and Language Therapists are all University qualified, either having completed a Bachelor Degree or Master Degree specialising in Speech and Language Therapy. The profession is highly regulated; all practicing Speech and Language Therapists in the UK must be registered with the Health Care Professions Council – and must provide evidence of Continuing Professional Development to retain registration. Most Speech and Language Therapists in the UK are also registered with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT). Private Therapists are often members of the Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice (ASLTIP). When choosing a Private Therapist, it is a good idea to look for the HCPC and RCSLT logos on their websites. This will give you some peace of mind that the Speech and Language Therapist you are planning on working with actually has the qualifications to do what they say they can do. You can also do a search on the HCPC website to confirm the registration of the Therapist you are thinking of engaging.
Many Speech and Language Therapists will specialise in either paediatric (children) or adult work; although some do have crossover. It’s always worth asking.
Other therapists may have a specialty in a particular area of communication (e.g. Autism or Stuttering).
When choosing a Private Therapist, it is a good idea to look for the HCPC and RCSLT logos on their websites. This will give you some peace of mind that the Therapist you are planning on working with is actually qualified to do what they say they can do.
When you do engage a therapist, what can you expect?
Typically, some baseline assessment needs to be carried out. This will usually take the form of a meeting with the family and people important to the person to find out some of the history of the difficulty, and then assessment (this can be done through the use of formal assessment tools or via more informal means). From the assessment and discussion with family, targets and goals can be developed to meet the areas of need the person has, with consideration given to those that will have the most meaningful impact on the person’s ongoing communication. When working with children, consideration also needs to be given to which targets are developmentally appropriate.
Goals that are set, no matter if working with children or adults need to be realistic and achievable.
Family involvement in therapy is usually recommended as this will help the person achieve their goals more quickly, and it is with the most important people in the person’s life who they most need to communicate.
For many conditions we know certain approaches will work in various ways. However, every Therapy Plan will look different to best fit the individual needs of the person, and people involved.