A speech therapist, also known as a speech-language pathologist, helps people who have difficulty speaking or swallowing. From teaching someone with a cleft palate to speak after corrective surgery to assisting people with stuttering disorders, these health care professionals deal with a wide range of speech defects and disorders. Some work as independent consultants, while others are employed hospitals or health-care organizations. In general, employment prospects in this field are favorable, and speech therapists can find work in many parts of the world for a reasonable salary.
Speech therapists must be licensed, which varies depending on state laws. He or she will typically need a graduate degree in the field as well as specialized training in working with patients. He or she may also be required to pass a test that assesses speech pathology knowledge. Because regional requirements vary so much, if you’re considering a career in speech therapy, you should speak with a local professional about the requirements in your area.
Patients may seek treatment from a speech therapist for stuttering or lisping. Doctors may refer clients, especially if a speech disorder is the result of an underlying medical condition. For example, a doctor might refer a patient to a therapist as part of treatment for slurred speech caused a neurological problem such as a stroke.
When a speech therapist first meets a patient, he or she usually focuses on the problem’s root cause. When a patient has been referred, the therapist can consult the patient’s primary care physician; however, when a patient does not have a referral, determining the cause is critical and can be difficult. In some cases, a patient may seek out a therapist, and the therapist may discover an underlying issue that necessitates medical attention. He or she can develop a program that is tailored to the individual patient once the cause of the problem has been identified.
Patients are usually required to do a variety of exercises in order to break old speech patterns and establish new ones. Many speech therapists employ audiovisual aids to assist their patients, and homework is frequently assigned. Corrective devices may be used in some cases to assist patients in speaking properly; in other cases, a speech therapist may collaborate with a psychologist, neurologist, or another professional to treat the underlying cause of the problem while providing speech therapy to patients.
For a variety of reasons, patients may have difficulty with articulation, speech rhythms, tone, and pitch. Working with a speech therapist can help a patient speak more clearly, even if perfect speech isn’t possible, and it can also help to even out a person’s voice, making it easier to hear and understand. Going to speech therapy can make a huge difference in someone’s life allowing them to communicate more fluently and effectively. Some therapists specialize in treating very specific issues; many transsexuals, for example, go to a therapist to learn how to speak like a woman or man.