What Is Speech-Language Pathology?

Posted by: Wilburn Braun DVM at 06/12/2021 4,822 views

Speech-language pathology is the study of treating people with cognitive issues such as speech, language or swallowing disorders. 

It is practiced in both clinical and educational environments.

What Is A Speech-Language Pathologist?

A speech-language pathologist treats patients with different kinds of speech and language disorders. They do not only treat patients with simple issues such as lisps and stutters but more disorders relating to that area of the brain and the nerves communicating with it. 

Normally speech-language pathologists use verbal counseling to coach patients into finding the correct speech sounds, but if that is inadequate, further intervention is needed from other fields sometimes.

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What Disorders Do Speech Pathologists Treat?

Speech-language pathologists treat many different kinds of speech disorders, including but not limited to phonology and articulation. Stuttering, a common speech disorder, is treated by speech-language pathologists even though it is not a motor disorder. 

Stuttering is caused by breakdowns in communication in the nerves between the brain and the vocal muscles. While speech-language pathologists are not neurologists, they can treat stuttering by teaching patients to slow down and more closely focus on their speech. 

Another treatable fluency issue is cluttering, which causes spoken words to be poorly enunciated and with an unusual rhythm. Moreover, speech-language pathologists treat voice and tonal issues that cause either unusual voice pitch or volume. These are also treatable by verbal coaching.

Another issue treatable by speech-language pathologists is swallowing disorders. Since speech and swallowing use the same group of muscles in the throat and head, speech-language pathologists can help patients activate the correct muscles for swallowing. 

Both certain speech and swallowing disorders are caused by nerve short-circuiting, so as with stuttering, the pathologist can coach the patient to slow their processes down for more precision.

What Education Is Required To Become A Speech-Language Pathologist?

Unlike psychologists and medical doctors, a doctorate degree such as a Ph.D. and M.D. is typically not necessary to become a professional speech-language pathologist. A prospective speech-language pathologist should first obtain a four-year undergraduate bachelor’s degree in a comparable field of study. 

There typically are no specific speech-language pathology majors in four-year universities, but a degree in any of its components is adequate. After graduation, there are many speech pathology masters programs available nationwide. 

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To become a speech-language pathologist, this master’s degree is necessary to complete. After this, a master’s degree holder will complete a clinical fellowship year, where under a temporary state license, they will work to gain knowledge in the real workplace. 

Moreover, a new speech-language pathologist must earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology in certain states. 

After this, the final step of gaining a state license by passing the Subject Assessment in Speech-Language Pathology can be completed. With all of these steps, the path to becoming a professional speech-language pathologist is complete.

While there is a long and specialized path to becoming a professional speech-language pathologist, there are many resources to get it done. There are a lot of quality master’s programs to set you on your path to success in speech-language pathology.

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