Speech therapists, also known as speech pathologists, are people who help people suffering from various types of speech disorders. He/she is a professional who is trained to diagnose, evaluate and provide treatment to patients suffering from problems like lisp, stuttering, stammering, improper articulation and impaired language. Highly trained and qualified speech therapists also treat people suffering from multiple sclerosis, swallowing disorders, learning disabilities and cerebral palsy. People who suffer a paralytic stroke sometimes lose their ability to verbally communicate with others. Speech disorder therapists can also help such people restore their communication abilities.
Depending on the intensity of the problem, the speech pathologist decides on the therapeutic method to follow. While group therapy is recommended for some patients, a few others are recommended one-on-one therapy. Family therapy is another option that is recommended to a few people. As a speech pathologist, you will need to evaluate the patient carefully and come up with a treatment plan tailor made to their requirement.
There are a myriad of audio and visual aids that are employed by speech therapists to help their patients overcome their speech related problems. Sign language, pictures, toys, books, computer programs, automated devices and sound analyzers are aids that help in treatment. They also work on sounds and pronunciations in order to instill confidence in their patients and help them articulate better. As a speech pathologist, there are chances of working with prominent celebrities to help them learn various accents. Some prominent personalities also engage the services of a speech pathologist to over pronunciation barriers and help them articulate and enunciate better.
While speech pathologists can work independently, most of them work in collaboration with various professionals including nurses, audiologists, physicians, teachers, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. A few leading speech therapists have their private practice, but a major chuck of therapists work in medical centers, nursing homes, private medical facilities, schools and medical centers. Enabling patients to understand their communication disabilities and helping them overcome it is a very fulfilling and satisfying profession. Though it may seem to be easy, it takes a lot of patience, understanding and a helpful attitude to be a successful speech pathologist.
If you intend to take up the career of a speech pathologist, then, you will have to earn a master’s degree in speech pathology. You need a license in 47 states to work as a speech language pathologist, especially in schools. In order to obtain the license, you will have to graduate from a program that has the accreditation from the “Council of Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology”. After completing the program you need to have nine months of clinical experience as a postgraduate and also about 375 hours in clinical practice. You will have to undergo continual learning programs to get your license renewed in 41 of the total 47 states that issue licenses.
The good news for people who would like to opt for this career is that there will be an increase in the number of speech pathologists required by the year 2016. Bilingual pathologists, especially those specializing in English and Spanish, will be highly sought after.