I love students. No seriously I do. My role as a clinical educator for student Speech and Language Therapists from Queen Margaret University is one of the favourite parts of my job. I love students because they ask questions. They create a situation where I am required to provide clear, rational and evidence-based reasoning for my clinical decisions. And on that basis my favourite question is WHY?
Laura is a post-graduate student who has just completed a placement with me in Tayside. She has graciously agreed to write a guest blog on her thoughts and experiences of Speech and Language Therapy in Mental Health which will feature when her academic and personal calendar allow, but until that time I wanted to share with you one of the big WHYs of Laura’s placement.
But WHY are we working with him? This isn’t Speech and Language Therapy.
Many Speech and Language Therapists work to a pretty high degree in professional isolation. By that I mean that they either work just with their client and/or that person’s parent/ spouse/ carer, or they have a well defined role within a multi-disciplinary team to tackle the communication aspects of a client’s disorder. I say this from a perspective of personal experience as I have worked as a member of many teams where teamwork is merely making sure we share information and don’t book people in for appointments at the same time! Unlike the fields of Physical Disability or Stroke Rehabilitation, in Mental Health the majority of work carried out by all team members is entirely verbally mediated. So what happens when an individual has communication difficulties that create barriers to therapeutic interaction? In this situation, the team member who can communicate most effectively with that person is most likely to affect positive change and that person may be the Speech and Language Therapist.
Laura is right; I am not doing specific communication skills development work with this client at this point in time – I have in the past and I am sure I will in the future. What I am doing is using my understanding of his subtle and complex communication difficulties to adapt and deliver a psychological based intervention that other members of the team have found it impossible to engage him in effectively. This is an intervention that will benefit his mental wellbeing and keep him positively engaged with the Community Mental Health Team; and that is what being part of a team really means to me.