Every day, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) help people of all ages communicate more effectively. They work in a variety of settings, providing therapy for those who have difficulty speaking, swallowing, or hearing. So, where do speech therapists work? Let’s take a look.
In this article we will discuss:
About Speech-Language Pathologists
Speech-language pathologists are often called speech therapists. They assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent communication and swallowing disorders in children and adults.
Speech-language pathologists work with patients who have problems with:
Resonance or voice (quality of sound produced)
Dysphagia (difficulty chewing or swallowing)
Cognition (thinking, memory, and reasoning)
Language (receptive language and expressive language)
Some speech-language pathologists also work with family members and other caregivers! They help them understand, respond, and support people with communication disorders. Many speech-language pathologists also work as consultants in various settings. This includes preschools, daycare centers, hospitals, nursing homes, and private practices.
What Speech-Language Pathologists Do?
Speech-language pathologists evaluate and treat individuals with speech, language, voice, and fluency disorders. They also work with people who have difficulty swallowing due to a stroke or other head injury.
Find the best speech therapist near you
Provide screening procedures to identify individuals with speech, language, or swallowing disorders
Administer diagnostic evaluations of speech, language, voice, and fluency disorders
Design and implement treatment plans
Provide individual and group therapy
Counsel patients and their families
Make recommendations for augmentative or alternative communication systems. This includes sign language or picture boards. It will help people with limited speech abilities
Conduct research on new evaluation and treatment techniques. May it be for speech, language, voice, and fluency disorders
Supervise clinical assistants, speech-language pathology assistants, and students
Collaborate with other professionals to plan and implement treatment goals
Maintain clinical records
Engage in continuing education activities to keep abreast of new developments
During speech therapy
Patients may work one-on-one with a speech-language pathologist or in a group. Speech therapy may take place in a clinic, school, hospital, nursing home, or the patient’s home.
Speech-language pathologists often work with other professionals. This includes physicians, audiologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, teachers, and social workers.
Occupational Therapists and SLPs work together. They help patients with disabilities or developmental delays attain the skills necessary for independent living and gainful employment.
Physical therapists and SLPs work together to help patients who have difficulty speaking to regain their speech. This may be due to muscular weakness or paralysis resulting from a stroke or other neurological disorder.
Speech-language pathologists also work with teachers. They develop Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for students with communication disorders. They also provide in-classroom consultation and support.
Who needs Speech-language pathologists?
Speech-language pathologists work with people of all ages, from infants to the elderly. They work with individuals who have a variety of conditions, such as:
Aphasia. A loss of language due to stroke or other brain injuries
Apraxia. A motor speech disorder in which an individual has difficulty producing the motor movements necessary for speech
Articulation disorders. A difficulty making specific sounds
Cleft lip and cleft palate
Cognitive communication impairments. May it be attention, memory, reasoning, and other executive functioning skills
Dysarthria. Neurological motor speech disorder that affects muscle control in the face, mouth, and throat.
Dysphagia. Difficulty swallowing
Language disorders. Receptive, expressive, or social
Motor speech disorders. Apraxia and dysarthria
Neurogenic communication disorders. This is caused by neurological conditions. It includes stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ALS, and cerebral palsy
Voice disorders. This includes vocal cord nodules, polyps, paralysis, and adductor/abductor spasmodic dysphonia
Where Speech-language pathologists Work
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work in a variety of settings. This includes schools, hospitals, clinics, and private practices. They may also work with clients who have difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), speak with an accent (foreign accent syndrome), or stutter (stuttering).
More than half of SLPs (56%) are employed in educational settings, including 53% in schools and 3% in colleges and universities. Many SLPs work in schools. It is were they provide services to children with speech and language disorders. They may work with students who have difficulty articulating certain sounds, producing fluent speech, or understanding and using language. SLPs may also consult with teachers and other school personnel to help them better understand and support students with communication disorders.
Early Intervention, Preschool, K–12 Schools
Early childhood and educational SLP in schools provide a variety of services, including speech therapy, assessments, parent education, occupational therapy management, and evaluation. SLP in schools also:
Conduct screenings and diagnostic evaluations.
Work with children with a wide range of disabilities, from mild or moderate to severe and/or multiple disorders.
Provide services on an individual, small-group, or classroom basis to infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school-age children, and adolescents.
Work on listening, speaking, reading, writing, and learning strategies in general education and special education classrooms.
Collaborate with and train other professionals and parents to facilitate students’ academic, communication, and social skills in an educational environment.
Serve on program planning and teacher assistance teams.
Write reports and participate in annual review conferences.
Develop Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs) and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
Complete documentation as required by federal, state, and local agencies.
Provide counseling and education to families.
Serve as consultants to other educators and related professionals.
Supervise support personnel in public schools.
Supervise clinical practicums and clinical fellowships.
Colleges and Universities
SLP in schools such as colleges and universities provides services to faculty and staff. In addition, they may consult with college and university personnel to develop and implement programs to support students with communication disorders. SLPs may also provide training to future SLPs.
Some 39% of SLPs are employed in healthcare settings. This includes 16% in nonresidential healthcare facilities, 13% in hospitals, and 10% in residential healthcare facilities. Hospital-based SLPs typically work in inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation units. They may provide services to patients who have suffered a stroke, brain injury, or other neurological condition that has affected their speech or language skills. SLPs may also work with patients who have difficulty swallowing.
SLPs in a hospital setting may:
Diagnose and treat cognitive communication and language disorders and/or swallowing problems.
Function as members of multidisciplinary or interprofessional treatment teams.
Provide counseling to patients and their families.
Educate other healthcare staff about cognitive communication, language, and swallowing disorders.
Inpatient Rehabilitation Units
SLPs in inpatient rehabilitation units provide services to patients who have been hospitalized for stroke, brain injury, or other neurological conditions. Services may include therapy, assessment, discharge planning, and education.
Outpatient Rehabilitation Units
SLPs in outpatient rehabilitation units provide services to patients who have been discharged from the hospital but still require speech or language services. Services may include therapy, assessment, and education.
SLPs in clinics provide services to patients with communication disorders. Services may include therapy, assessment, and education.
One-fifth (19%) of SLPs work full- or part-time in private practice. Being an entrepreneur and making decisions about your own schedule, caseload, and target groups is possible because of owning a private practice. Some private practitioners operate alone, while others run big firms with a large staff that includes not just SLPs. Private practitioners also oversee their business operations, such as billing, marketing, and contracting.
Some SLPs own their own private practices or work as independent contractors. In these settings, they may provide individual and group therapy to clients with various types of communication disorders. They may also offer workshops and seminars on topics related to communication disorders.
SLPs who work in private practices may:
Provide individual and group therapy to clients with communication disorders.
Offer workshops and seminars on topics related to communication disorders.
Manage their own businesses, including billing, marketing, and contracting.
Some SLPs conduct research on the nature and causes of communication disorders, as well as new ways to assess and treat these disorders. They may also develop new methods of rehabilitation for people with communication disorders. Additionally, they may study how different aspects of the environment affect communication skills.
SLPs engaged in research may:
Conduct research on the nature and causes of communication disorders.
Develop new methods of assessment and treatment for communication disorders.
Study how different aspects of the environment affect communication skills.
Home Speech Therapist
A home speech therapist is a speech-language pathologist who provides services to clients in their homes. They typically work with clients who have difficulties communicating due to a neurological condition, such as stroke, brain injury, or ALS. Home speech therapists may also work with clients who have cognitive-communication disorders, such as aphasia or dysarthria.
Home speech therapists may:
Provide therapy to clients in their homes.
Assess clients’ communication skills.
Provide counseling to clients and their families.
Educate other healthcare professionals about communication disorders.
SLPs work in a variety of settings, providing therapy for those who have difficulty speaking, swallowing, or hearing. No matter what your needs may be, there’s an SLP out there who can help you communicate more effectively and improve your quality of life.
At Better Speech, we offer online speech therapy services convenient for you and tailored to your child's individual needs. Our services are affordable and effective - get Better Speech now.
About the Author
I am a Speech-Language Pathologist with 14 years of experience working with children and adults who have communication difficulties. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science at Cebu Doctors' University and have been helping people overcome their communication challenges ever since.
I have worked with individuals of different ages, including toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, adults and seniors. I'm passionate about speech therapy and take great satisfaction in helping people overcome their communication challenges and improve their lives through better communication skills. In my spare time I like reading books, going hiking in nature and taking care of my dog Locas.