10 Qualities that Every Speech Language Pathologist Should Have
Being a speech language pathologist for the past fifteen years has been a rewarding career for me. I have learned so much already, but continue to learn every day from my clients, students, and people around me. As a speech language pathologist, I am proud to be able to help my clients communicate more effectively with others around them.
When asked to write about this topic, I had to think extensively about all the qualities that make speech pathologists successful with their clients and within their careers. I think these qualities that I discuss below apply to any health care professional and within other fields as well.
1. Be compassionate
As a speech language pathologist, I have been in many situations that require me to be compassionate. Many families have been through extremely difficult situations. For parents of young children, a speech language pathologist can be one of the first therapists working with their child. Many parents are fearful and concerned at this stage regarding the future of their child’s speech and language abilities and need guidance and comfort from a therapist.
I have also worked with adults for many years, and I talk to parents that feel hopeless and need someone to listen and guide them through the challenges that their child is facing at that time. Having empathy helps create a special and trusting relationship between you, the family and client.
2. Be open minded
I have worked in many different environments which have required me to be open minded. I think once you close your mind to any new ideas, you don’t leave yourself open to many wonderful and unexpected things that can occur. A couple of years ago, I found myself learning a new type of therapy. I felt a little uncomfortable beginning something new, but after about six months of learning it, I loved it and was able to use it and modify it to make it my own. It was an empowering experience!
3. Be a team player
As with all other health professions, we should rarely work alone. Working as a team with parents, therapists, paraprofessionals, doctors, etc. is optimal. The more the team works together cohesively, the better the results for the client who is receiving the services.
4. Be organized
With the amount of paperwork and scheduling involved, being organized is key. Being on time and staying on top of paperwork is an important part of the job.
5. Be a people person
Whether your caseload is with children or the geriatric population, enjoying and loving to work with people is key.
6. Be flexible
Being flexible is important. I work in a day habilitation program where many of my clients go out in the community. When things get switched around, I try to be flexible with my schedule. When working in the school system for many years, I had to be flexible about my work space and caseload.
7. Be willing to learn and make mistakes
When teaching my graduate class, I always tell my students that you never stop learning no matter how many years you are in the field. Each client that I work with teaches me something new, and I am lucky to add that to my knowledge base. As with any job, we are human and make mistakes. The most important thing about making mistakes is to learn from them and to not repeat them.
8. Be hard working
As with all health care professionals, we are hard workers. We work hard with our clients because we care and love helping people with their communication, speech and feeding goals.
9. Be motivated so that you can empower others
Each year, I share an excellent article with my class called Empowering Nonvocal Populations: An Emerging Concept by Sandy Damico. I wrote a guest post in January 2014, on ASHAsphere discussing this article and how to empower your clients.
10. Be problem solvers
As speech language pathologists, each client that we work with is different. Being able to navigate what therapy and strategies work best for that particular person is key.