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What is a speech-language pathologist?

What is a speech-language pathologist or speech therapist? What type of work they do? Find out here.

A speech-language pathologist, also referred to as a speech therapist, evaluates and treats speech, language and swallowing difficulties, which may have resulted from trauma, stroke, hearing loss, developmental delay, birth abnormalities and emotional problems in individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly.

As an integral part of the health care team they:

  • evaluate the person's level of difficulty in communication
  • improve vocal ability
  • provide alternative communication methods such as sign-language
  • prepare a treatment plan
  • help patients follow through to see improvement

Speech-language pathologists often work with:

  • physicians
  • social workers
  • psychologists
  • parents
  • teachers and school staff
  • other health care professionals

The role of speech-language pathologist requires a master’s degree, and a current state license is required to see patients. Licensing requirements vary by state.

Speech-language pathologists are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) is the internationally recognized professional credentialing body for speech-language pathologists. Certification satisfies some or all of the requirements for licensure and may be required by some employers.

KU School of Health Professions