The Power of Mindset in Speech TherapyHeather Gross, M.S., CCC-SLP
Do you have a fixed or a growth mindset? When you experience a challenge or setback, do you think, “I failed and there’s nothing I can do about it!” Or do you learn from it and brainstorm ways to improve?
The terms “growth mindset” and “fixed mindset” were coined by the psychologist Carol Dweck over 30 years ago. These terms are used to describe the underlying beliefs that people have about learning, growth, and intelligence.
With a fixed mindset, you may think there’s nothing you can do to change. But if you believe you can hone a skill or improve in any area, you’ll likely feel more motivated to invest the time and energy it takes to reach your goals. That growth mindset can be a big help in many parts of your life, including speech therapy.
What is a growth mindset, and why do you need it in speech therapy?
Growth mindset is a way of viewing challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth. Any kind of therapy requires a growth mindset. That’s because therapy requires evolution, healing, rehabilitation, and lasting change.
Whether you’re a kindergartener working on pronouncing the /r/ sound, or an adult learning techniques for a stutter or a lisp, therapy isn’t always an easy process. In order to heal or improve your speech, voice, or language, you have to be willing to embrace change.
Many adults spend years, or even decades, experiencing difficulty with their speech, voice, and communication. When asked, “What inspired you to reach out to a speech-language pathologist now?,” they answer, “Well, I didn’t realize I could change my speech or voice. I thought this was just the way my speech is!” This is a perfect example of moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
6 tips to cultivate a growth mindset
We each have unique strengths, abilities, and skills. However, we can cultivate any strength or skill that we’d like to improve. Truly, anything is possible for you!
1 Practice mindful awareness
Become aware of your thought patterns. Do you tend to think, “I will never be good at this,” “I am always going to be this way,” or “I can’t change the way I am”?
2 Explore where these beliefs come from
Did someone tell you that you weren’t good in this particular area? What led you to hold this belief?
3 Discover the areas in which you want to grow
Is there a skill you’d like to gain or a strength you’d like to develop?
4 Change your thought patterns
Tell yourself “I can grow in this area” or “I can improve on this.”
5 Ask for constructive feedback, and be willing to make a change
Humans do best with a ratio of at least three pieces of positive feedback to one piece of constructive feedback. Acknowledge what you’re doing well and how far you’ve come. Then, be willing to reflect on constructive feedback and make any changes needed for growth.
6 Continue to acknowledge your progress
Celebrate where you are, and set new goals to grow and improve.
How a growth mindset can help in speech therapy
What are your goals in the areas of speech, voice, language, and communication? Perhaps you want to make your speech clearer, improve your vocal health, or communicate with more confidence. Or perhaps you’re a parent or caregiver of a child who needs help with communication. Having a growth mindset can benefit both kids and adults! Here’s how:
A growth mindset can help to increase confidence. When you’re working on communication, confidence is key! Having the courage to speak and share your voice and ideas requires an inner sense of self-love and assurance.
As children grow and develop, having a growth mindset can increase their mental flexibility and problem-solving skills.
Having a growth mindset leads to greater feelings of optimism. If we feel optimistic about the outcomes of speech therapy, we’ll likely be more motivated to put in the hard work!
Growth mindset increases resilience among both children and adults. Those with a growth mindset are less likely to “give up.” They tend to try multiple options and paths to reach their goals.
People with a growth mindset tend to enter speech therapy with more open-mindedness. Establishing trust, safety, and rapport with your speech therapist is critical for progress in therapy.
What you bring to speech therapy matters. One way of looking at it is the evidence-based practice triangle, which is the integration of three things:
The speech therapist’s expertise
The use of research-based techniques
The client or caregiver’s perspectives
When these three areas are aligned, high-quality speech therapy is provided and functional, sustainable changes are made.
Your speech therapist should help you develop a growth mindset. Together, you’ll reflect on the progress you’re making in speech therapy and make informed decisions as your personal wants, needs, and goals evolve.