A speech and language therapist is an allied health professional who has had training in speech and language therapy.
Who is a speech and language therapist?
A speech and language therapist is a health professional who diagnoses and treats people with communication, eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties.
Some speech and language therapists are more specialised and have additional training in certain areas, such as in working with:
- children with swallowing and speech problems
- adults with communication and swallowing problems following a stroke
- older adults.
(New Zealand Speech-Language Therapists' Association, 2019)
What can a speech and language therapist help with?
A speech and language therapist can help with the following:
- Assessing and diagnosing people with communication and swallowing difficulties.
- Providing treatments or interventions, such as communication aids, to help people with speech and swallowing difficulties.
- Providing advice, information, education and support to people with communication and swallowing difficulties, their carers and their families/whānau.
- Working with other health professionals such as doctors, physiotherapists, nurses or occupational therapists to help develop individualised treatment plans.
People with the following medical conditions may benefit from speech and language therapy:
- cancer such as brain cancer, head and neck cancer or lung cancer
- injury to your head, neck or spine
- palliative care conditions
- neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, dementia and muscular dystrophy
- intellectual disability
- congenital conditions
Ask your GP or doctor whether you need a speech and language therapist.
Where does a speech and language therapist work?
A speech and language therapist can work in many different places, including:
- health centres
- community and sports organisations
- non-governmental organisations
- research institutes
- private clinics.
Talk to your GP or doctor about getting a referral to a speech and language therapist. Or you can pay for a private service. Find a private speech and language therapist here.
What training does a speech and language therapist have?
A speech and language therapist has to do at least 6 years of training and be registered with the New Zealand Speech-Language Therapists' Association to work in New Zealand. Find out about different training options to become a speech and language therapist on the Careers NZ website.