Studies & Degrees in Clinical Speech Thearpy/Speech-Language Pathology
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The study of speech pathology is concerned with all disorders that relate to speech, language, voice, fluency, and communication. A speech pathologist would normally diagnose any of these communication or literacy difficulties, and provide treatment and assistance. This kind of help can also relate to people having problems with swallowing and eating.
Clinical speech therapists first try to evaluate the scope of each client’s problems, which often involves the use of different tests and equipment. After that they have to decide on the most appropriate treatment, taking into consideration the person’s age, their intellectual and physical abilities, and their social environment. Speech-language pathologists can also help children with various diseases and disorders communicate more easily, or assist individuals who have undergone a surgery, experienced brain damage, or hearing loss. These specialists are likely to work as a part of a team, combining strengths with other professionals.
A caring, patient, outgoing nature would suit such a profession. Other qualities are:
- High-level communication skills – ability to listen and explore people’s problems
- Thoroughly enjoy contact with different people
- Enjoy challenges
- Be a good team player and contribute to solving complex and unusual situations
- Be delicate and thoughtful when approaching people’s problems
- Ability to inspire with hope and positivism
The minimum requirement for speech language pathologists is a master’s degree, which is generally available at universities with a medical school. You should be prepared for eight years of study after high school and long hours of research and interaction with people, who have various difficulties.
Starting with the bachelor’s degree in speech pathology, you should look for an institution that is accredited, and covers a good range of courses, including anatomy, audiology, sociology, anatomy of physiology of speech, physiology of hearing, etc. At this level, you will also explore in detail the various problems and issues your potential clients will have; furthermore, you will be required to learn how strokes and birth defects can affect hearing and speech. When looking for the right institution, it is crucial to look into options for research and clinical internships, as such will be some of the requirements for postgraduate study.
In order for you to gain a master’s degree in speech pathology, you could be coming from other fields as well – like biology, zoology, or other science or health related field.
Last but not least, individuals of this profession are highly recommended to embark on continuing education programs while working, so that they can keep up with advances in this field.
Job opportunities for clinical speech therapists are mainly in hospitals and in schools, but you could also give private consultations. Most commonly, you would work with patients either individually, or in small groups.
When working in a school, you would usually help children with problems like stuttering, lisps, and other pronunciation difficulties. You could also work with children with autism, cerebral palsy, or cleft palates. In public hospitals or private clinics, speech pathologists usually deal with rehabilitating people from accidents, strokes, and other brain injuries.
Speech pathologists can also work with professionals to reduce their accent in a certain language, and this relates to actors and other public speaking personalities, whose accent may be hindering their image.