How to Choose a Speech Therapist
If you’re asking yourself, “how to choose a speech therapist?” Congratulations! This means that you’ve located local speech and language professionals who stand ready to service your family. Rest assured that all of our speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have been screened and vetted and hold State licensure as well as the esteemed Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). So you have the pick of the best but it is still an important choice. As you decide on who you would like to work with, I thought a few tips from an “insider” might be helpful. Ultimately, choosing whom you will be working closely with for weeks and months is a highly personal decision. These tips are meant as a set of guidelines to confirm your instincts.
Area(s) of expertise
On the Speech Buddies Connect network, our contracted SLPs are, for the most part, generalists: they have wide experience with a variety of speech and language challenges. Some also may have a particular specialty. That may be in working with young children (birth to age 3), or with executive functioning challenges, or specialize treating children on the autism spectrum. Each SLP has listed his or her areas of coverage but it is a good idea to confirm whether your SLP has a record of working with the type of challenge you see in your child.
Location, location, location
Most speech therapists have a defined coverage area. On our site, when you search for a therapist, one of the factors our system places high emphasis on is location. The system will automatically list the distance from where you are located so, in general, the therapists would come up first in your search will have pre-selected your zip code as part of their coverage area. It is a good idea to stick to the therapists who are closer rather than far away. As a therapist who has traveled to homes for sessions myself, I can tell you that limiting travel as much as possible is very helpful: it allows therapists to be more efficient with their time and reduces the likelihood of lateness due to extensive travel. Also, in some cases it is best for your child to travel to the therapist. It is obvious then how important it can be to be working with someone who isn’t too far from you or where your child goes to school.
The therapists you’ll find on our network make every effort to keep their work schedules up-to-date. This allows you to see when a given therapist is really available to see your child. If your child is on the younger side, where possible, I’ve found it is preferable to have your child seen earlier in the day. Children are often “fresher” and tend to be more responsive to therapy. School-age children are, of course, in school during the day. For this reason, after school slots are at a premium. Although a parent’s intuition as to who would be a best fit for your child – see below — should be paramount, the best option to fit into your schedule may be the way to go.
The feeling you get
This is a bit cheesy, I do admit, but as you search, choose the SLPs you get the best feeling from. As I mentioned above all of our therapists are top-notch and highly qualified. But take a quick moment to imagine that person and all they exude, with your child. Does that therapist seem like someone your child can really get along with? Establishing rapport is very important and underpins every therapy interaction. A therapist can be world-famous, but if he or she isn’t pleasant and fun to work, a child is not as likely to have a positive experience. You’d be surprised at how much you can tell from a simple photograph and profile description.
In closing, all the above factors are important inputs into your decision. I would recommend not fixating on one factor to the exclusion of the others. Prioritize these factors according to what fits for your family and weigh them together, even subjectively. You also have the option of trying out two of your preferred therapists to see which one fits best. No matter what your therapy priorities are, this experience should be the most rewarding that it can be.