Speech-Language Pathologists

Speech and language are complex skills that take a lot of practice to learn. But sometimes, a stroke, neurological diseases such as ALS, or birth defects can cause individuals to lose their ability to speak and communicate.

Speech-Language Pathologists

For those with these conditions, Best Speech-Language Pathologists In Doylestown are there to help. They prevent, identify, diagnose, and treat communication and swallowing disorders in people of all ages.

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) evaluate and treat people with communication disorders. They diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, such as stroke victims who have trouble swallowing, children with articulation delays and adults who stutter. Also known as speech therapists, they work in a variety of settings including schools, health care facilities and private practice. SLPs also do research in the field of communication sciences and disorders.

To become a speech-language pathologist, you must earn a master’s degree in communication science and disorders from an accredited university. Many graduate programs allow you to attend full or part time, based on your schedule and other commitments. In addition to completing your graduate degree, you must also pass the Praxis exam and complete a clinical fellowship year. Once you have passed the exams and completed your clinical fellowship, you can seek state licensure as a speech-language pathologist.

Often, speech-language pathologists will specialize in certain areas of communication disorders. Some focus on articulation and phonology, while others will choose to concentrate on apraxia or aphasia, which are disorders that affect the structure and use of language. Some SLPs will even choose to focus on voice disorders and recommend treatment options like breathing exercises or syllable stretching to help their patients overcome problems with pitch, loudness or intonation.

Other speech-language pathologists may choose to focus on cognitive-communication disorders, such as difficulty understanding social cues or a difficulty with reading and writing. Still others will decide to focus on a specific area, such as stuttering or swallowing disorders, and devote their entire careers to perfecting those skills.

The job outlook for speech-language pathologists is quite positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that from 2020 to 2030, the profession will grow at an above-average rate, due to aging populations and medical advances that improve survival rates for premature babies and stroke victims. For those interested in this career, the salaries are attractive as well. Those in the top 10% of the field earn over $99,000, while those in the lowest 10% will make less than $75,000 per year.

Assessment and Diagnosis

Speech-Language Pathologists use assessment methods to determine a patient’s communication status and diagnose problems. These assessments may include informal observations, interviewing, or analog tasks as well as formal tools and techniques like standardized tests. The speech-language pathologist must take into account the age and suspected communication challenges of their client to decide on the most appropriate assessment tools.

Standardized tests are often used to measure articulation and phonology, receptive and expressive language, social communication, voice, and swallowing. These assessments are designed with a specific set of participants in mind and must be administered precisely according to the instructions on the test booklet to provide valid results. Standardized tests are available in both paper and digital formats.

When assessing a client’s social communication skills, the speech-language pathologist can use the Ethnographic Interviewing techniqueExternal link: open_in_new to gather information on the client’s daily life and activities, along with their views on various people and objects in their lives. This helps SLPs gain a better understanding of how their clients communicate in socially appropriate ways and also allows them to make more accurate diagnoses.

SLPs can also assess a client’s swallowing abilities by physically examining the throat and mouth to see if there are any issues with breathing, movement of the tongue, and/or vibration of the vocal cords that could cause a difficulty with swallowing. They can also use a swallowing simulation test to observe how well a client is able to safely swallow liquids and solids.

In addition to observing and testing, SLPs must be familiar with a wide range of medical conditions that can affect a person’s ability to speak clearly and communicate effectively. As a result, they often work with other healthcare professionals, such as audiologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and psychologists to ensure that their patients are receiving the best care possible.

While the career of a Speech-Language Pathologist requires extensive education and training, it is a rewarding and fulfilling field to be in. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly 400,000 SLPs work across the United States in many different settings, including schools, hospitals, private clinics, and nursing homes.

Treatment Planning

There are a variety of challenges that can cause speech communication and swallowing difficulties in adults or children. Adults might need specialized treatment because of strokes, medical procedures, or cognitive changes that result in the need for speech therapy services. Oftentimes, the need for treatment will be established by the health care professional managing the patient’s primary medical condition.

A Speech-Language Pathologist can help develop a comprehensive plan to treat the disorder. This might include a series of therapy sessions that last 30 to 60 minutes. During the session, the Speech-Language Pathologist may use exercises to improve muscle strength or help patients practice how to pronounce certain sounds or words. Speech-Language Pathologists also use role-playing games and other activities to help people frame their sentences and speak clearly.

The first step in the treatment planning process is to identify the patient’s goals. This can be done by reviewing standardized testing, informal assessments, and observations of the patient in different contexts. The Speech-Language Pathologist can then set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for the patient to address their disorder.

It is important for the patient and their caregiver to attend all scheduled treatment sessions. Consistent attendance will increase the chances of success. In addition, caregivers can help support the progress of their loved ones by practicing strategies and homework assignments between therapy sessions. Moreover, caregivers can provide feedback to the Speech-Language Pathologist about their patient’s progress.

Speech-Language Pathologists can also work with other health professionals to coordinate treatment for their patients. This can be beneficial for patients as it allows them to get the most from their therapy. For example, a Speech-Language Pathologist might collaborate with an occupational therapist to incorporate therapy techniques into activities that are familiar to the patient. This can make the sessions fun and interesting so that the patient stays engaged with their treatment.

It is also possible for a speech-language pathologist to work with a physical therapist or audiologist to integrate speech therapy into activities that target other aspects of the patient’s motor or sensory skills. This multi-disciplinary approach can be especially helpful for patients with disabilities that affect more than one aspect of their life.


Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) have a lot of options to help individuals overcome communication disorders. Depending on the client’s needs, they can recommend a variety of assistive technology devices. This could include things like a simple picture board paired with a laser pointer, or a device that produces computerized speech accessible through an eye gaze switch. As part of their clinical practice, they also provide guidance to families and caregivers on strategies and techniques for communication support at home and school.

As professionals, Speech-Language Pathologists have an opportunity to be involved in the supervisory role of other Speech-Language Pathologists and/or clinical fellows. According to the ASHA position statement Clinical Supervision in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, clinical supervision is a distinct area of practice and “is an essential component of professional growth for SLPs.”

Supervisory roles are not typically taught or prepared for during graduate school. In fact, in her article in ASHA Leader (2017), Elizabeth Beckley expresses what many clinicians have been feeling for years – that they have had zero formal training on how to supervise.

There are a variety of reasons why Speech-Language Pathologists decide to become clinical supervisors and mentors. Some choose to do it as a way to earn extra income, while others find that they are passionate about helping other SLPs grow and succeed in their careers.

Regardless of the reason, it is important that supervisors are well-trained to be effective supervisors. Supervision is a complex, yet critical activity that can have an impact on the clinical outcomes of clients served by SLPs. To this end, it is recommended that all SLPs seeking to supervise SLPA’s or clinical fellows receive some form of supervision training.

Fortunately, there are a variety of supervisory training opportunities available to SLPs including formal courses and continuing education programs, peer mentoring, self-study, products and resources from ASHA’s Special Interest Division 11 Administration and Supervision, as well as other organizations. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the clinician to seek out supervision training to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge needed to be an effective clinical supervisor and mentor.