Choosing the right Speech-Language Pathologist can be a daunting task. You want your child or loved one to receive the best therapy possible and you want assurance that your clinician is able to meet your needs over the next few weeks or months. You may need to meet a few different SLPs before you find the right fit.
If you do not have many clinicians in your area, Online Speech Therapy is a good option to consider. To make sure you are finding the best SLP for you, I’ve put together a list of 7 questions to ask when contacting a speech therapist near you. Let’s get started!
1. What are your credentials and experience?
All Speech-Language Pathologists have at least a Master’s Degree and are highly-trained professionals. They have spent countless hours on education and training in the areas of speech, language, social communication, cognitive and swallowing issues.
You can ask if they are ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) certified and if they are licensed. You should also ask what their experience is with the specific communication issues your child or loved one is having.
2. Do you specialize in certain speech-language disorders or other areas of expertise?
This is a helpful question for you to get to know if the SLP is right for you or not. Many SLPs specialize in a certain age or communication issues. Some clinicians typically see children who have language issues while others see older patients that have suffered a traumatic brain injury or illness.
This will help you determine if they are up-to-date on the best practices and resources that will be most beneficial for you. Exercises and treatment plans for children and adults can vary greatly so you want to make sure the provider is comfortable with the disorder you need help with.
For example, Primary Progressive Aphasia is a relatively rare neurological disorder that requires a specific treatment approach. A Speech Pathologist with expertise in developmental apraxia would not be the best match.
Apraxia and Stuttering are other examples of disorders that require specific treatment approaches and benefit from specialized experience.
3. What is your philosophy on speech therapy?
Before you continue therapy with an SLP, you should know what their philosophy is. Some SLPs may be focused on holistic measures or take an evidenced-based approach. Others may have tried and true techniques or are open to trying a new approach. Some are focused on family involvement with a strong home program. Asking about their philosophy is a quick way to see how their ideas and beliefs tie into their everyday practice, and if it may be a good fit for your family.
4. How do you determine a therapy plan?
Although each therapy plan is unique and should be tailored to the specific situation, the process of determining a therapy plan is usually similar. You can ask what types of formal and informal assessments will take place to measure where skills are at currently and how they tie into your therapy plan. This is also where you can ask what the duration of your therapy plan will be if treatment goes smoothly, and what will be done if it needs adjusted.
5. What are realistic goals to be met and how will we monitor and adjust if needed?
The success of speech therapy hinges on a number of factors such as age, disorder, and when therapy was started. Your SLP will not be able to guarantee when or if certain milestones will be met, but they should be able to clearly explain the desired outcomes of therapy and why they are important. They should also be able to tell you how these goals will be monitored and what will be done to adjust the course if progress is not happening as expected.
6. How much does speech therapy cost?
Knowing your out-of-pocket costs will ease your anxiety as you seek a speech-language pathologist. Get familiar with your insurance policy to see if speech therapy is covered under your policy. Insurance doesn’t always approve speech therapy, and you definitely don’t want to be blind-sided by a hefty medical bill.
Determine what fees your SLP charges and if you will be able to budget for it. Some clinicians may offer payment plans, so check what their policies are when it comes to payment. If your insurance won’t cover speech therapy, there are many other options like self-pay discounts to help you afford treatment.
7. How can the entire family be involved?
Having the support of your family to reinforce what is learned during sessions is key to the success of your therapy plan. Ask your SLP if they have any resources for homework or strategies available to use for daily practice at home.
Often they can recommend speech therapy apps, workbooks, games, or flashcards. Some SLPs may even let you sit in on a session so you can see exactly what techniques are being used.
Are you ready to find a speech-language pathologist?
With the help of a dedicated SLP and support system, you can achieve positive outcomes from speech therapy. By asking the right questions you can be confident in your choice of a skilled SLP for your child or loved one. You may need to meet with a few SLPs to find the best fit for you, but the search will be worth it.
Did you know that many Speech Language Pathologists are now offering online telepractice? There are plenty of virtual speech therapy options available and you can meet with an SLP from the comfort of your own home. Search our comprehensive database to find a Speech Language Pathologist today!