Last updated April. 10, 2018
It is hard when we or a loved one needs therapy. Speech impediments and disorders are frustrating as it is without having to shop for the right speech pathologist as well.
There may not be a large selection of them in your area. You want your loved one to get the best treatment possible.
How do you know what to ask the therapist to find the right one to bring out the best in your loved one? It is certainly not rude to ask a therapist a few questions.
Interview them to see if they will be a good fit for you or your family member. It is up to you to find the best treatment possible.
We have compiled a few questions to ask your prospective speech therapist/pathologist to help get you on the right track to success.
1. What are your credentials and where did you receive your education?
Do not be afraid to ask this question. Is there education from a university in your country that you are familiar with or did they study abroad?
This can make a big difference in the quality of education received and the treatment paths they may choose.
2. Have you worked with patients with this condition before?
This is an important question as it gives you some idea of their experience. You want a therapist that has experience with your individual need.
Ask them how long have you been practicing. This gives you some idea of their expertise in their field and if they are new to the practice.
3. Do you have an individualized treatment plan for my family member or just a generic plan for everyone with this condition?
Speech therapists should have a plan that is individualized for the patient incorporating his own strengths and weaknesses.
An assessment should be taken to pinpoint those unique aspects and use them to custom a treatment plan with the patient in mind.
4. Will the speech pathologist work with your other medical providers to join a team effort keeping all medical persons onboard?
This question should always be asked. Do they work with your physicians? Will they give reports to your doctors?
Does the pathologist have their own team that they work with?
If so ask to meet the therapy team. It is good to get to know the people who will be working with your loved one.
How many members there are and how often they will be working with your family member.
5. What can you do at home to aid treatment and therapy?
If it is your child that needs the therapy, then ask what you can do to help your child away from the therapist’s office.
Are there games to play to have fun with the learning process? Is there a way you can help your child and make it fun at the same time?
If the therapy is for yourself, ask for exercises to do at home in between sessions to boost success.
Ask for practical tips and advice. This therapy is for you, take control and ask your questions.
If this therapy is for a loved one, ask the therapists what you can do to help. Are there exercises to do at home?
Should you help or allow the patient to go it on his own. How far should you help then allow them to do it themselves to learn and improve?
6. Will you be allowed to observe the sessions?
If the therapy is for a loved one, then it is important that the caregiver observe sessions so they can pick up on tips and tricks to help the patient at home.
You can become more familiar with the exercises and can ask any questions you might have at the time they have them at home when you go over the material.
A lot of children feel more comfortable with a loved one in the room especially when there is a stranger, until they get to know the therapist and feel comfortable.
It does happen that the child does not want the parent in the room and feels more independent. In this case, ask if you can sit outside the room and silently observe.
7. Do you give progress reports?
Speech therapists are great at communicating with loved ones on the progress of the patient.
However, if yours does not it is safe and reasonable to ask for progress reports to see how the patient is improving.
How often will you be able to talk to the therapist about your loved one’s progress? What is their communication plan for family members?
8. What are the fees?
It is practical and not considered rude to ask what the therapist’s fees are. What are their fees for and will your insurance (if applicable) pick up the cost?
Are there other fees that will be applied? Do they have payment plans if insurance is not applied?
Find out the financial burden, if any, that is charged before treatment begins.
9. What is the best way to stay in contact with the therapist?
Of course, we all know that therapists have phone numbers. But, sometimes they cannot be reached on the phone or it is hard to get a return call once a message is left because the therapist is busy with patients.
Is there an alternate way to get in touch with the therapist that might get a better response? Do they have an email address that they answer daily after hours? Do they have a website that has a questions section?
Is there another phone number they can be reached on or an extension that you do not know about?
10. If the therapy is for a child, will the therapist connect with the school or teacher for help for your child in the classroom?
A lot of child speech therapists work within the schools. If yours does, will they contact and communicate with your child’s teacher on your child’s behalf or is it your job to do so?
Many times, the speech therapist will keep in communication with the school and teachers but in some cases, this is not applied.
If your child is going to a private therapist then you need to ask if they will communicate with the teacher if you give the teacher’s name and phone number; or is it your job to keep the teacher in the communication loop.
Try to provide your child’s therapist with notes from his teacher on areas where he struggles in class. Learning difficulties are important cues for the speech therapy.
For instance, if your child is struggling with verbal instruction, the therapist needs to know this to help correct the problem
11. How will you assess the success of my loved one?
What is their evaluation process? What will they look for and how will they determine a diagnosis?
Get to know the therapists’ methods. Observe the assessment so you know that a thorough examination was administered and not just a few questions asked and a diagnosis determined.
12. Are there support groups or other resources we should know about to help our loved one?
If there are support groups then they might help your loved one feel not so alone in their therapy. The use of support groups is amazing in the rehabilitation of a patient.
Try to find other resources as well, to help your loved one recover faster. They improve at a faster rate when their interest is engaged. Make the therapy more interesting by utilizing any outside resources that might be beneficial.
13. Will a communication device help my loved one? If so, can we meet with an augmentative and alternative communication specialist?
Ther are several different types of communication devices and some are beneficial depending on your loved one’s diagnosis.
Talk to your speech therapist about these options to see if they are right for your family member.
Be diligent and brave when interviewing a speech therapist. It is up to you to find the right one to bring out the best in your loved one.