3 Keys to Speech Therapy Success for Adults
Congratulations on taking the first step in your journey to improved communication. Every person deserves the ability to be a clear and confident communicator. And you’ve recognized that you are worth this investment in speech therapy. Your speech therapist will be there to guide you through the process and cheer you on as you reach new goals.
But first, we want you to have the information you need to hit the ground running and get the most out of therapy. So let’s walk through three important keys to speech therapy success.
First of all, knowing what to expect is a big part of being set up for success. Your speech therapist will begin by performing an evaluation in your first session. The goal is to assess the areas that need to be targeted in therapy. These may include foundational speaking skills, speech sounds, language abilities, accent modification, social pragmatics, fluency, voice production, or professional speaking skills.
Your speech therapist will also ask about your specific concerns and areas you’d like to address.
After the evaluation, your speech therapist will build a treatment plan for you with specific, personalized goals. These are the goals that you’ll target in therapy together and that your speech therapist will use to measure and assess your progress.
Rest assured that as you meet goals, or as you discover more about your needs, your speech therapist can adjust your treatment plan as necessary.
The second key to speech therapy success is having a bit of patience. The process of speech therapy is very much a journey, and it looks different for each person. I’m sure you have some questions: How quickly will I see progress? How long will therapy take?
Improvement in any area of communication is incremental–each step builds upon the one before. No matter what you’re working on–whether it’s exercises for your voice, learning to say speech sounds correctly, or even improving your ability to express your thoughts and needs–every area of speech therapy takes time.
Think about it like this: Say you were in an accident, and you needed physical therapy to improve your strength so you could walk again. Your physical therapist would evaluate your current strengths and weaknesses, create a plan of exercises to get you going, and then recommend the necessary amount of treatment.
Depending on the severity of the accident, it’s likely that you wouldn’t begin walking during your very first physical therapy session. It would probably take several sessions to get even somewhat close to this goal.
The same is true with speech therapy. It will take some time to get closer to your communication goals. The amount of time is different for every person, and it depends on factors such as your communication issue, how often you attend sessions, and how often you practice your new skills at home. We’ll discuss this in more detail in just a few minutes.
But rest assured, your speech therapist will provide a roadmap to success and help get you there. Think of your speech therapist as your partner. They contribute their skills, knowledge, and experience to the partnership, but you bring the knowledge you have about yourself–your own experiences, motivation, and learning style! Never be afraid to ask your speech therapist any questions you have. Your partnership should be built on trust and open communication. The knowledge you each bring to the table is important.
Here’s one more tip for your speech therapy journey: It may help to start a journal, or make notes throughout the week about your communication progress. Write down anything you notice between sessions–maybe things that are still hard for you, or things that are improving. You can share these with your speech therapist at your next session.
The third key to speech therapy success is regular attendance and practice. I frequently get asked how long speech therapy will take. I wish there was one easy answer, but there just isn’t. So many factors affect this, such as the severity of the communication issue and how long a person has been living with it.
One of the best things you can do to reduce your time in speech therapy is to attend sessions regularly. We all have jam-packed schedules and a variety of responsibilities. It can be tempting to skip a session here and there. But missed sessions really do add up over time!
If you attend speech therapy once a week, skipping a session means you won’t receive therapy for two whole weeks. There’s so much progress that can be made at each session and with its related home practice. And the flip side is also true, that your progress might slip backward in those two weeks. Attending sessions consistently helps you keep the momentum going.
Make the most of each session by choosing a comfortable, distraction-free location and using a computer or tablet, rather than a phone. It might be tempting to call in to therapy from a coffee shop or while you’re driving, but it’s best to be in a quiet location where you can truly focus.
Finally, I can’t discuss tips for speech therapy success and let this one slip by: consistent practice. Your speech therapist will make this easy by giving you an activity to work on after every session. You may feel some echoes back to your school days, but trust me when I say this type of homework is more than worth it!
When you practice regularly, you reinforce what you learned in previous sessions. By the time you get to your next session, you’re ready to keep moving forward. The time you have face-to-face with your speech therapist is valuable, and practicing regularly will help you get the most out of it!
Try to practice several times per week. If you can, practicing daily is ideal! Short bursts work great–think 10 to 20 minutes at a time. You’ll see more improvement with shorter daily practice, as opposed to big blocks of practice only a few times per week.
So, before we wrap up, here’s a quick recap of the three keys to speech therapy success.
The first is to understand how therapy goals are set. Your therapist will start with an evaluation and create a personalized treatment plan for you. They can make changes to your care plan as needed at any time.
The second is to have patience for the speech therapy journey. Know that it will take some time to make noticeable progress. Trust your speech therapist–they’re your partner on this journey.
The third tip for success is to commit to consistent attendance and home practice. When you attend sessions and practice regularly, you’re more likely to make faster progress. And who doesn’t want that!
Remember, our goal is to help you get the most out of your speech therapy experience. And you play an essential role in helping that happen. You’re the expert in your own needs and motivations. We’re experts in communication. Let’s work to improve your speech, language, and communication abilities together!