The role of the SLP

As you likely know by now, that not only are we Life Coaches (focusing on helping others develop a mindset that will help them move forward in their lives following adversity such as a traumatic brain injury), we are also Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs).

I thought I’d share a little bit about what SLPs do.

SLPs cover a very wide scope, and we both have had experience working in most areas. From working with kids who have problems with their “r’s” or a lisp or stutter, to working in acute care hospitals with people with their swallowing and teaching how to use a valve to speak when they have a trach. SLPs work with language delays and disorders, work with specific populations, work with voice disorders, social pragmatic issues and even accent reduction and public speaking. They work in schools, in hospitals, in the community. SLPs cover huge range.

Over the years, we have spent most of our time working with people who have experienced a traumatic brain injury, including concussions (I always add concussions as many people still do not know that a concussion IS a traumatic brain injury so I like to point it out every change I get!) Most of the the time no one knows why an SLP was recommended though!

How many times did people ask me why their loved one needed to work with a Speech Language Pathologist?  “They sound fine. They can make all their sounds!” Often clients themselves wondered the same thing. 

Even though through our coaching practice we are not providing SLP services, one of our purposes is to educate people about concussions and brain injury, and that includes the who, what, where, when, why and how of rehab!

SLPs have a unique role because they deal with COMMUNICATION. And who doesn’t need help with communication?? (answer: NO ONE). After a TBI, most people often struggle with what we call “cognitive communication” skills. 

What does that even mean? Cognitive-Communication refers to a set of communication features that require underlying skills in cognition. They are the thought processes that allow humans to function successfully and interact meaningfully with each other. So, if you have any challenges in cognitive areas (e.g. attention, memory, organization, information processing, reasoning, problem solving, executive function skills etc.) you may  find yourself struggling with conversations, listening to multiple speakers, remembering what you have read – struggling with all things related to communication and/or language. 

As SLPs, we help people work on their cognitive communication skills and help them identify barriers they have to returning to their life. We work with them to help them return to school, return to work, return to their social lives, return to community activities. We help them develop strategies and practice using them on a daily basis.

Often our clients end up having other challenges that interfere or amplify what they are struggling with – emotional challenges are most common (PTSD, depression anxiety). As part of a multi discipline team, SLPs help these clients regardless of where the “cause” of the cognitive communication challenge.

The role of SLP is a crucial one and sadly is often overlooked! Hopefully this little snapshot provided you a greater perspective on what an SLP does and the value offered by having one on your rehab team!