A people person
By its nature, speech and language therapy (speech-language pathology) is a people profession that involves a great deal of social interaction. You should, therefore, be someone who likes working with people of all ages. The following are core skills:
- well-developed interpersonal personal communication skills (able to communicate effectively)
- ability to engage in conversation
- good listening skills
- ability to empathize
- ability to relate to a wide range of people from varied backgrounds
- capable of adopting a non-judgmental approach when interacting with people
- good problem-solving skills
- good organizational and time management skills
- proficient investigative and researching skills
- a commitment to life-long learning
- team-working skills
Some speech and language therapy jobs involve peripatetic work (i.e. travelling to and from clinics, hospitals, individual’s homes, and so on). You may, therefore, require a full, valid driving license.
Finally, something that is often overlooked but which is essential for success in both training to become a speech and language therapist and to practicing once qualified – one’s own health. It is essential that we look after ourselves. Good health, combined with a healthy body weight, will enhance our general wellbeing, increase our energy levels and maximize our ability to cope with the physical and mental demands of a rigorous and demanding profession. You will need to demonstrate good stamina, as you will be a student for the remainder of your career: lifelong learning is essential to maintaining high standards of care.
Having said this, the rewards for those who pursue a career in speech and language therapy are wide-ranging. There is a great deal of satisfaction to be found in knowing that you have personally contributed to someone’s welfare and that you have aided them to meet the needs of daily living and reduce the effects of any handicap. Moreover, the knowledge and stimulation of belonging to a dynamic profession which draws on the latest research in medicine, science, education and sociology is life-enriching.