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?

One Year On

365 days, 21 posts, 2133 views in 36 countries, 28 comments, 23 mentions, 28 followers, 202 shares, 25 ‘likes’, and a partridge in a pear tree!

It doesn’t seem like a year since I started my blog, but they do say that the years get shorter the older you get. As I had a significant birthday this year it appears that this particular adage is holding true. Yet, despite the fact that the year has disappeared at lightening speed, I feel that I have learned a lot.

I have learned that blogging is a powerful and effective way to promote and discuss the professional issues I feel passionate about, and make connections with like minded people.

I have learned that I place exceptionally high expectations upon myself and need to moderate these to an acceptable level – Out with the Old, In with the New.

I have learned that people are actually interested in what I do – A Tweet in the Life – and that I can write in a way others find entertaining and thought provoking – What’s in a Name?.

I have learned that I can inspire others to contribute to my blog and share their thoughts and experiences too – Therapy Through the Looking Glass – and that I can be quite persuasive as well (more guest blogs expected later this year).

I have learned that writing a good blog is a craft and takes time; and gauging the right length to make it interesting and informative without boring the reader to tears is not easy.

I have learned that it is challenging to write in a professional capacity and ensure that I am not breeching anyone’s confidentiality or trust – Adding Fuel to the Flames and Communication Matters.

I have learned that I am part of a growing community of Allied Health Professionals who are spreading our message about the vital role we play in supporting the mental and physical health of people in our communities – AHPScot Blog and Ayrshire Health to name but a few.

But most of all I have learned that blogging is something I really enjoy doing and want to continue, and I intend to bring as many other people along for the journey with me as I can. So buckle up people; here comes Year 2!