Shadowing a DoctorJuly 7, 2014
A speech and language therapist is an expert in treating disorders related to communication. As a speech and language therapist, you would assess, diagnose and treat people who have difficulties and issues with their speech and language. This could range from stuttering and stammering to making the normal sounds of speech, understanding language or suffering from other voice impairments. More than half of those who come to you would be children, which means you must be skilled and comfortable working with this particular age group.
Training & Education
To train in this health field, you must complete take a 3 or 4 year undergraduate degree course. You will find several accredited and reputable training programs at universities across the UK. Subjects you will take include the sciences, psychology, anatomy and other behavioural sciences.
If you have already obtained a degree in another relevant health career area, you could choose to become a speech and language therapist through a graduate level course that has the required practical training for the career. The practical component is a crucial aspect of your training and can be completed in a hospital, care home, school or any other community setting.
After you’ve completed your training you will need to register with the Health Professions Council.
Continuing education is important as it allows you to stay on top of the latest research and development in all aspects of communication disorders.
Essential Personal Skills in Speech and Language Therapy
As most of your clients who come for treatment have impaired communication skills, it is most important for you to have highly developed communication skills to bridge that gap. Not only do you have to be able to convey your message to your clients but is equally important to be patient and an excellent listener to be able to grasp what they are trying to convey to you.
Communication disorders can be a source of embarrassment for most people, whether they are children or adults. Your sensitivity and care in working with these challenging issues will allow you to become successful as a speech and language therapist. To excel in this specialty, you need to be empathetic, caring, non-judgmental and able to deal with clients from many different backgrounds and age groups. Good problem-solving skills are also essential to the position, as is your ability to motivate your clients to make changes to their communication during speech therapy. Above all, you need to be patient. Change is often not easy for someone who may have been trapped in a difficult communication pattern for several years.
When you think about how vital it is to communicate well, it’s not difficult to see how a speech or language problem can have major negative personal, social, and professional consequences for a person. By training to become a speech and language therapist, you will be opening the door for clients to communicate more effectively and live their lives to the fullest.