Speech Therapist

Speech Therapist
A speech therapist is a specialist with training in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of speech, voice, and language disorders who works with people, unable to make speech sounds or cannot make them clearly. They also work with people who stutter, have fluency and rhythm problems, inappropriate pitch, or harsh voice and speech quality problems. The most widespread and obvious speech disorder is stuttering, often caused by anxiety. The speech therapist sets up a program of speech exercises to reduce the disability, and if necessary, enlists the aid of a psychologist or psychiatrist. Other disorders may result from hearing loss, stroke, cerebral palsy, mental disability, or brain injury. Speech therapists keep careful records on the evaluation and progress of patients, often developing and implementing individualized treatment programs based on the input of physicians, psychiatric social workers, and psychologists. In fact, because speech disorders are usually related to neurological, psychological, and physical conditions, speech therapists must be able to work as a member of a team which may include other healthcare specialists such as a neurologist and psychiatrist. An important part of a speech therapist’s work is the counseling and support of individuals and families on speech disorders and on how to cope with the stress associated with these problems. Therapists also work with families on treatment techniques to use at home and on how to modify behavior that impedes communication. Although a speech therapist’s job is not physically demanding, it does require patience and compassion, as progress may be slow and halting. Speech therapy is a painstaking process, but it can be as rewarding as it is frustrating. Tremendous attention to detail and sharp focus are necessary in the evaluation of the patient’s progress. Overall, speech therapists must be able to understand and empathize with the emotional strains and stresses that such problems bring, both from the patient’s and family member’s point of view. Speech therapists, like other health care professionals, must carefully diagnose problems and if necessary call upon the advice of other health specialists. The ability to distinguish the need for the professional input of specialists is critical to the therapist’s success. Therapists must also monitor the progress of patients, eliminate certain programs, and introduce others that are more effective. The ability to make informed decisions that may define the success and failure of any individual program is a skill that can only come with years of experience.