Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are experts in communication and work with people of all ages, from babies to adults. And yet, they often remain the unsung heroes of the therapy world. At WebPT, we’re working to change that by celebrating the amazing work of these dedicated professionals.
In honor of Better Hearing and Speech Month, we reached out to two SLPs—Christina Britton, M.S. CCC-SLP and Amber Fox, M.S. CCC-SLP. We asked them about their passion for SLP, what they want other people to know about the importance of their profession, and where they see the industry heading in the future.
How long have you been a speech-language pathologist?
Christina Britton, M.S CCC-SLP
I have been practicing for 12 years.
Amber Fox, M.S. CCC-SLP
I have been practicing for 16 years.
What setting do you currently practice in?
I am the owner and founder of Eat, Talk & Play Therapy LLC, a pediatric private practice in Arizona.
I work in pediatric private practice with Red Door Pediatric Therapy in North Dakota.
When was the moment you decided you wanted to be an SLP?
Surprisingly, when I was in high school I took a career survey and one of the jobs that was identified for me was an SLP. It was the perfect combination of science and teaching that I was looking for—and I stuck with it ever since!
My passion for SLP occurred quite late in my training. I had just completed my undergraduate coursework in communication sciences and disorders and wasn’t sure if speech pathology was the right journey for me. I was given the life-changing opportunity to work at a summer camp for children and adults with a variety of communication needs. I finally had the personal connection I had been missing through my coursework and couldn’t wait to continue onto my graduate program.
What’s one thing you do as an SLP that may surprise others?
I also specialize in feeding therapy—working with babies up to young children on their feeding and swallowing skills. Additionally, I provide a lot of coaching to families who have children who are language-delayed.
The biggest challenge of my job can be when I have to make lemonade out of lemons! A well-planned therapy session can change at a moment's notice, and I have to regroup and change plans. Therapy sessions can be completed in any environment with limited tools, which can help when I have to be flexible. I also make a lot of crazy faces throughout the day.
What’s one piece of advice would you give to a future SLP?
Find your niche and stick with it! Participating in continuing education trainings that support your area of interest will help provide families with what they need during your time working with your patient.
Establishing close mentorships early can help guide not only your clinical skills but can also provide guidance for interpersonal communication development and how to navigate unexpected situations.
What is your favorite part of your day as an SLP?
Seeing a child do something for the first time! This could be saying a word, or eating a certain food for the first time. It's moments like these where you can see the new concept 'clicking' for the child which is usually the start of many more things to come.
Walking up to each new client at the start of their session. Each session starts fresh with a smile and hopes for a positive experience. New successes and meeting an individual's personal milestones at any level can be so rewarding.
Where do you see SLP going in the future? Is there a particular industry trend you’re excited about?
As with most therapy fields, we are changing with the changes in our society and environment. This means that there are new trainings, new ways to work with children and their families (or adults and their families), and new research constantly in the field. What is exciting is that as our society changes, we have to learn to adapt to those changes and apply them to the here and now. Keeps us SLPs on our toes—you can never get bored!
The field of speech pathology is expansive! I think moving toward a clinical doctorate program may help fill some of those gaps between a clinical externship and mentored practice. Evidence-based practice remains at the forefront of our minds when selecting our evaluation and treatment methods. I’m hoping to see continued focus within our graduate programs and clinical practice for speech pathologists to look critically at the research and dispel outdated biases. We are also seeing an expansion of the use of SLP assistants in a variety of settings.
What is one thing you would want everyone to know about the importance of SLP?
Communication is the key to successful interactions. Working with an SLP can help establish true communication between two people, verbal or non-verbal, at any age.
Communication is such a basic human right at all levels regardless of the client’s age and ability. Bridging communication gaps can be life-changing.
We applaud all of the SLPs who work hard every day to help individuals reach their full potential. Whether it’s Better Hearing and Speech month or just an everyday work week, it’s important to celebrate everything SLPs do. So from the team at WebPT to all of you amazing SLPs out there: thank you!