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Health & Social Care careers

Healthcare: Speech & Language Therapy

Why do speech therapy?

If you’ve seen The King’s Speech, you’ll understand the real importance of the work that speech and language therapists do!

Communication is everything. Whether it’s having a laugh with your mates, answering a question which is posed in a seminar, discussing your achievements in an interview or delivering a speech to a flock of people, you need to be able to put forward your views and communicate effectively.

So many of us take it for granted, but for some, verbal communication can be a big problem. Imagine if every time you opened your mouth to speak, you were concerned that you might not be able to muster up any words? For many it can be a huge cause of stress and anxiety. Essentially, the clever people that work in speech and language therapy aim to help these members of the public.

Why is speech therapy so vital?

Speech really is so crucial to us. The ability to communicate doesn’t come easily for everyone and this can be a hugely distressing experience. Both children and adults alike require assistance and often it’s something that people live with for their whole lives.

Success in this area can be incredibly satisfying. For example, the Labour politician, Ed Balls, has had a stammer since a child, but he is now able to deliver speeches in the House of Commons on a regular basis. This is all thanks to the hard work of speech and language therapists!

Issues with speech come in so many different variations that work in this area is rarely ever the same. People encounter a variety of speech and language problems, from stammers and stutters, to Tourettes and other voice difficulties. There are opportunities to specialise in one particular area; however, it’s quite common for speech and language therapists to help people with a range of different problems.

The first objective when beginning a programme of therapy is to assess the patient’s problem. You will need to identify what condition they may have and devise the best way of treating it. There are a variety of methods to treat speech difficulties, including breathing techniques and changing the way in which people communicate with their work colleagues, friends and family.

This sector doesn’t just have speech and language therapists working in it though. These guys work as part of an overall team, which is responsible for delivering the best possible treatment to patients experiencing speech and language difficulties. Occupational therapists, psychologists, doctors and physiotherapists are often involved with treatment, although this often depends on the issues that the individual is facing.

How do I get into speech therapy?

If speech and language therapy is your thing, getting a degree in the subject is a necessity. There are currently 18 universities that are offering a degree in this subject, all accredited by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

However, if you don’t go for this subject as an undergraduate degree, you could always opt to study a two-year postgraduate course to gain the right qualifications.

Aside from academic requirements, there are a variety of day-to-day skills required in this field if you want to excel. First and foremost, the ability to work well with people is essential. Virtually everything you do will involve interacting with people, so it’s important that you are comfortable with this. You must also be open to new ideas and new practices, as new methods are constantly being introduced to this brand of therapy.

If you’re interested in a speech and language therapy career, check out the occupational profile of a speech therapist to find out more!