A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) is a medical professional who can help with swallowing, communication, and cognition. Our Masters degree and ongoing continuing education allows us to work with a wide spectrum of disorders and across the lifespan. Some SLPs specialize in newborn feeding. Others specialize in Autism. Some in fluency. Some in Parkinson's. Some in aphasia. Some SLPs also are generalists, treating a wide variety of disorders. Speech-Language Pathologists in schools may treat students with autism, stuttering, articulation disorders, language disorders, and students requiring alternative communication, all before lunch! Some Speech Pathologists have worked their entire careers focused on adult populations in Home Health and Skilled Nursing. Some focus on birth to three. Some clinicians spend their days in schools and evenings/afternoons in Home Health with Geriatrics.
Remember, the titles "Speech Pathologist" and a "Speech Therapist" usually mean the same thing. Some professionals use slightly different titles based on their setting and what is the norm / easiest to communicate. The label used doesn't identify if your clinician is the best one to treat your swallowing or communication concern.
Want to know what does? Keep reading....
Depending on your situation, you may be limited by what SLP is available in your setting. However, if you have out of network insurance coverage or are able to choose private pay, you have choices. How to choose the best Speech Pathologist for YOUR situation?
Prior to the Appointment
- What age group do you work with?
- What age and specific area (aphasia, dysphagia, dementia, etc.) are your specialties?
- How quickly can you see me?
- What are methods of payment/funding?
- After the evaluation, is there a waiting list for treatment?
- Are you certified (have your CCCs) and licensed by the state?
During the Evaluation
- How frequently will I need therapy? How did you make this decision?
- Can family take an active role in the therapy sessions? Can they observe each therapy session?
- How will you check my progress in therapy?
- Where can I get resources to learn more about my difficulties?
- What can I do to help with my progress?
- What will occur during therapy?
Check out the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) to learn more about how to prepare for your visit and learn why it's important to have a certified SLP treating your communication concerns.
So what are the benefits of a choosing a private practice clinician?
In Private Practice...
- SLPs are able to specialize. This means that we pursue extra training and education, read the research on YOUR diagnosis.
- We are able to limit the number of clients that we see in a day to focus on the current client, researching and preparing treatment materials between sessions, taking the time to truly individualize treatment. No cookbook therapy here.
- Speech Spark Services, LLC limits schedules to 4 clients/day, with most sessions ranging from 30-120 minutes.
- Private pay does not require home-bound medical status in order to provide clients with the convenience and function of in home treatment.
In Hospitals, Outpatient, and Home Health...
- SLPs are often generalists. Clinicians need to be able to treat every diagnosis they may come across.
- They need to handle schedule changes, productivity restraints, insurance limitations, and more. They often are limited in the length of sessions to 30-45 minutes. Some SLPs in this setting also work in schools, which means the same clinician is seeing a wide range of ages from birth to end of life.
- You may be one of 6-10 or more clients they are seeing that day.
- To have the convenience and function (for better carryover) of in-home therapy with Home Health, you must be considered medically home bound.
Whether you get to choose your SLP or if you are limited by in network, geographic area or the agency/facility you are using, your active role in your treatment is essential.
- Ask questions, be involved.
- Offer information about what's important to you, interest-wise and priorities so that your SLP can be a partner with you to customize your treatment.
- Know WHY you are doing your therapy tasks. If you don't understand the reason for the recommendations, ASK. There's always a purpose with the end goal to help you reach your goals.
- Ask for a home program to practice your skills between sessions. Sometimes home practice tasks are structured, others are more functional, incorporated in your daily routines. If you have trouble implementing your program, ask for help/ways to modify so that you CAN follow through with recommendations.
The more you participate and are active in your therapy program, the faster progress will typically occur and the sooner you will reach your goals!