A speech-language pathologist (SLP) is a health professional who can identify, diagnose, and treat problems with communication and swallowing. They see people across lifespan; infants to elderly. They complete a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, have at least 350 hours of work experience and they must pass a national certification exam before they can apply for a license with the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC. They work with educational teams in schools, or as part of a health care team in hospitals, child development centres, community or private clinics, or residential facilities.
Only a speech-language pathologist registered with the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC can be called a “speech language pathologist” in B.C.
What does a speech-language pathologist do?
A speech-language pathologist assesses communication skills (such as speech-sound production, oral-motor skills, and language development) or swallowing disorders as well as screen hearing. They can recommend the need to see a specialist for further assessment. Some SLPs are trained and certified to provide further tests using instruments which will help with diagnosing the problem and keep track of any changes as a result of treatment. They will provide treatment based on their assessment and work with other health care professionals as needed. Some SLPs have special training and certificates to work with people who have voice problems and laryngectomies. SLPs may also develop augmentative or alternative communication systems for people who are unable to speak.
How do speech-language pathologists keep their skills up to date?
SLPs are required to maintain continued education and must obtain and report at least 45 credits of continuing competencies every three years. The College conducts a random audit to ensure SLPs comply with this requirement.
What happens when I first visit a speech-language pathologist?
An assessment will be completed to determine a diagnosis of a communication or swallowing difficulty. From there the SLP will prepare a treatment plan that may include direct therapy or further assessment. They may need to consult with other health or education professionals or oversee the treatment plan provided by a qualified assistant.
How can I find a speech-language pathologist?
The College website provides a directory by city entitled ‘Find a Professional in My City’ which is easily accessible from the Public home page www.cshhpbc.org
How do I pay for a speech-language pathologist?
A SLP seen within a public health setting is free of charge to people covered by MSP. Publically funded SLP services are also provided in child development centres and public schools. Private SLP services require you to pay directly for the services you receive, but if you have extended health coverage, you may have some coverage for SLP services. Some children with special needs, such as those with a diagnosis of Autism or who qualify for At-Home Program, may also qualify for provincial funding for SLP services.
What if I have concerns about the care I received from a speech-language pathologist?
You have the right to expect a professional standard of care from your speech-language pathologist. If you think that has not happened, please contact:
Where can I find more information about a speech-language pathologist?