Scope

Strengthening the Speaking Voice is a short course aimed at improving the quality and strength of the speaking voice. Specifically, it is aimed at adults with functional dysphonia. It is a therapeutic resource [1] and it is not intended to be a manual that teaches theory of voice disorders, assessment, program planning, intervention or evaluation procedures [2]. The reader is expected to have insights into these areas. Having said this, the included Voice Packs provide a logically structured approach to intervention and they are relatively self-explanatory for anyone with a rudimentary understanding of voice therapy.

The course is, therefore, prescriptive and it fills a niche. It is assumed that the voice therapist has assessed the client and identified that a structured course of this type would meet the client’s needs. No claim is made that this course is suitable in all instances of functional dysphonia or that it addresses every therapeutic need. In sum, it is a resource pack focusing on a limited set of therapeutic activities (see Therapy Focus) that have proven useful for many clients with functional dysphonia and which, being pre-prepared, can save the busy clinician valuable time.

Clients

This course in Strengthening the Speaking Voice is aimed at adults [3] who are experiencing functional voice difficulties. It is, as the name implies, aimed at improving the speaking voice rather than the singing voice. However, in principle, the techniques that are introduced to assist the speaking voice should also aid the singing voice. It is necessary, however, to make it clear to any client primarily concerned about their singing voice that this is not a course aimed specifically at this area. The client can then make an informed decision as to whether he or she considers it worthwhile to attend.

Disclaimer

At all times, and in every instance, the decision as to whether any therapeutic intervention program is suitable and safe for a client, and whether that program should be implemented, remains with the voice therapist/clinician who is legally responsible for the client’s care and welfare.

A note on language use

The Strengthening the Speaking Voice materials, including this manual, attempt to use every day, informal language when describing such things as symptoms, causes, anatomy and the voice exercises themselves. This is because the materials are intended for direct use with clients and it is, therefore, recommended that commonplace, non-jargon vocabulary is used to make therapy sessions as accessible as possible. So, for example, the larynx is referred to as the ‘voice box’, the vocal folds are the ‘vocal cords’, and similar. Likewise, concepts that may have a specific definition within the speech-language therapy community are used more freely. So, for example, ‘aims’ are set out in plain English rather than as SMART objectives and resonance is thought of as the ‘sound quality being deep, full and reverberating’. Clearly, advising clients to produce a “nice, rounded and resonant forward sound” is language appropriate to the therapeutic setting and not academic journals. The overarching aim (presumably, as with all therapeutic interventions) is that vocabulary and concept definition should not be an unnecessary obstacle to clients’ understanding and participation.

Footnotes

[1] A number of the materials and exercises incorporated into Strengthening the Speaking Voice have already been presented on this website. However, this course pulls together what might appear to be disparate assets into one coherent resource aimed at assisting those with functional dysphonia. Consequently, some already-existing resources are reproduced under the rubric of Strengthening the Speaking Voice in order to collate the materials into a logically ordered and self-contained therapeutic resource.

[2] Mathieson, L. (2001) Greene and Mathieson’s The Voice and Its Disorders (6th edn) London: Whurr Publishers, remains an excellent standard text that covers all these domains.

[3] For ideas and suggestions of group working with children see Hunt, J. and Slater, A. (2003) Working with Children’s Voice Disorders Bicester: Speechmark.

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