Philosophy, beliefs and attitudes impact practice, regardless of our level of awareness of those underpinnings. By bringing our practice philosophy to a conscious level, we can strengthen our decision-making and collaborations with others by being clear about our framework. Engaging in this self-reflective process should result in an increased understanding of our underlying beliefs about the nature of our clinical work. A Clinical Practice Philosophy statement also allows us to construct a framework within which to illustrate what we believe to be important factors in our role as speech/language pathologists. Developing such a statement can serve several important functions:
- provide a mechanism for overall reflection on your practice
- help synthesize your individual perspective on key beliefs or "mission" as a speech/language pathologist
- serve as a framework to guide and justify everyday clinical decisions
- act as a vehicle of expression on the nature of your clinical work which can be communicated with clients, families, co-workers, administrators, etc.
- serve as a "guidepost" in your professional development
There are recent indications of increasing attention to issues related to practice philosophy in speech language pathology. Muma (2004) for example, stated:
"....those who render clinical services and CEU offerings, should state which philosophical views and theoretical perspectives underwrite their services..." Additionally, he suggested "Philosophical views and theoretical perspectives comprise rationale evidence. Such evidence should underwrite clinical services because it provides disciplined understanding of issues. " (Muma, 2004).
In a Letter to the Editor of the ASHA Leader in 2003 Jay B. McSpaden made a similar request for increased focus on philosophy of practice for our professions, stating:
"It is true that "philosophy dictates practice," but it is also true that these ethical questions, and decisions about them, dictate philosophy. I encourage the members (or anyone reading this letter) to watch for and participate in discussions on these matters. More even than our skills or training, they determine "who we are." (McSpaden, 2003)