What does a speech therapist do?

  • By Jobs For Therapists
  • Published on September 13, 2023

A speech therapist, also known as a speech-language pathologist (SLP), is a healthcare professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating communication disorders and speech-related issues. Their primary goal is to help individuals of all ages improve their communication skills and overcome various speech and language difficulties. Here are some of the key responsibilities and tasks of a speech therapist:

  1. Assessment: Speech therapists assess individuals to determine the nature and severity of their communication disorders. This may involve evaluating speech sounds, language comprehension and expression, fluency (stuttering), voice quality, and other related areas.
  2. Diagnosis: After the assessment, SLPs diagnose the specific communication disorder or speech-related condition. They use standardized tests, observations, and clinical judgment to make an accurate diagnosis.
  3. Treatment Planning: Based on their assessment and diagnosis, speech therapists develop personalized treatment plans tailored to the individual's needs and goals. These plans may include specific therapy techniques and strategies to address the identified issues.
  4. Speech Therapy: Speech therapists provide therapy sessions to clients, which can be conducted one-on-one or in group settings, depending on the individual's needs. During these sessions, therapists use a variety of exercises, activities, and techniques to target speech and language goals.
  5. Articulation Therapy: SLPs work with clients who have difficulty pronouncing speech sounds correctly (articulation disorders). They help clients improve their ability to produce sounds accurately.
  6. Language Therapy: Speech therapists work with individuals who have language disorders, which may involve difficulties with vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, or expression. They help clients enhance their language skills and communication abilities.
  7. Voice Therapy: For clients with voice disorders, speech therapists offer voice therapy to improve vocal quality, pitch, and overall vocal function.
  8. Fluency Therapy: Individuals who stutter may receive fluency therapy, which focuses on reducing stuttering and improving the flow of speech.
  9. Swallowing Therapy: Some speech therapists specialize in dysphagia therapy, helping individuals with swallowing difficulties improve their ability to eat and drink safely.
  10. Alternative Communication: SLPs may work with clients who have severe communication impairments and require alternative communication methods, such as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices or sign language.
  11. Education and Training: In addition to working with clients directly, speech therapists often provide education and training to clients and their families on techniques and strategies to enhance communication outside of therapy sessions.
  12. Progress Monitoring: Speech therapists regularly assess their clients' progress and adjust treatment plans as needed to ensure that communication goals are being met.

Speech therapists work with a wide range of individuals, including children with speech delays, adults recovering from stroke or brain injuries, individuals with developmental disorders, and those with congenital conditions affecting speech and language. Their expertise helps people improve their communication skills and enhance their quality of life.