The Dark Art of Speech and Language Therapy

This month marks 2 years since I started my blog and although I don’t post so often these days interest doesn’t seem to have dwindled if the number of hits each week is anything to go by. Although overall I am enjoying this journey, there are times when the sheer size of the job can feel quite overwhelming. The range of valuable roles that a Speech and Language Therapist can play in the context of adult mental health is what keeps this job interesting and challenging all at the same time.

I seldom take the time these days to reflect on the breadth of roles I undertake on a day to day basis but I have a had recent cause to consider exactly that. I was asked last week what my “elevator pitch” for my service would be. If I had 10 seconds to sell myself (in a professional context obviously) what would I say?

Mental health and communication are very closely linked. The way a person communicates can tell us a lot about their mental health or even diagnosis, and conversely a person’s ability to communicate can significantly impact on their mental wellbeing. Equally, mental health workers’ ability to make appropriate adaptations to the way they communicate according to each individual’s need can make or break important therapeutic relationships.

Speech and Language Therapy has been described to me as being a bit of a “dark art” as people aren’t entirely sure what we do, and I believe that is because communication is the foundation of everything we do, not only in mental health, but in life. A Speech and Language Therapy assessment can make sure you get the right treatment by gathering information that leads to the right diagnosis. A Speech and Language Therapist can work alongside your Occupational Therapist to help you get a job. A Speech and Language Therapist can work with you to increase your self-esteem and confidence by improving your communication skills or addressing a specific speech or language difficulty you experience. The list goes on.

So what would my “elevator pitch” be?

Communication is a fundamental human right and forms the basis of all our interactions and relationships. Mental health services need Speech and Language Therapists because without the support we can offer there will be people whom services fail by not adequately addressing their communication needs. Without specialist knowledge from Speech and Language Therapists the risk of individuals becoming stuck in a downward spiral of poor communication and poor mental health increases. Services need Speech and Language Therapists because without effective communication what do we have?


5 thoughts on “The Dark Art of Speech and Language Therapy

  1. Hi Susan,

    As a generalist SLT working in general medicine I love the perspective your blog brings to my work. So much of what you have talked about here rings true with the aims of the International Communication Project 2014 – if you haven’t already heard about this Project have a look at

    • Hi Libby, Thanks for taking time to comment. I am glad my blog resonates with SLTs from a variety of fields. The Communication Project is a great advertisement for why what we do is so important.

  2. “Communication is a fundamental human right and forms the basis of all our interactions and relationships”

    Oh, how I wish that were true! Until this concept is enshrined in law, I think the “right” to communicate will be just a pipe dream as long as some people control others’ ability to communicate.

  3. Hello, my name is Susan Inglis and I am a Mental Health Nurse. A very good friend of mine shared me your blog and I have to say, I am so glad he did. I have recently started my own blog:
    I would be very much interested in speaking to you in regards to the effectiveness of your blog and would really love to read more of yours.

    If you have the time, please email me at:

    Thank you so much for sharing, what an interesting and enlightening read!

    Kind Regards,

    Susan Inglis

  4. Hi Susan! I love your blog post shedding light on mental health disorders and communication/language abilities. I started my doctorate degree in behavioral health so that I can specialize in just that; early intervention of speech so that mental health disorders do not need to develop or to catch mental health disorders before a client gets in too deep. My current focus is to try to get the discussion going within ASHA and hopefully write some blog posts through them! I would like to be able to contact you further via email to get your opinion on some topics!

    My email is!

    Have a happy new year,

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