SpeechPathology.com Phone: 800-242-5183

Therapy Source Career Center - June 2019

Counseling in Language Intervention: Building Effective Relationships

Counseling in Language Intervention: Building Effective Relationships
Shari Robertson
April 30, 2007

The primary task of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) is to help their clients learn the skills necessary to establish more effective communication skills, transfer these new behaviors from treatment sessions to the natural environment, and maintain them over time. Consciously or not, speech-language pathologists frequently use a range of methods which have their roots in counseling and psychotherapy to accomplish these goals. The applicability of these techniques cut across virtually all classifications of communicative disorders--voice, hearing, neurogenic pathologies, stuttering, and, as we will discuss in this article, language (Shipley & Roseberry-McKibbin, 2006). After all, SLPs do not treat a communication disorder--they work with people who happen to have a disorder related to communication! Consequently, although some SLPs profess to be uncomfortable entering the realm of human values, feelings, and beliefs, we cannot hope to bring about lasting change if we ignore the personal aspects of a communication problem (English, 2002; Flasher & Fogle, 2004; Luterman, 2001; Shipley & Roseberry-McKibbin, 2006).

This viewpoint is consistent with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's (ASHA) most recent Scope of Practice (2001) document which includes "educating and counseling individuals, families, co-workers, educators, and other persons in the community regarding acceptance, adaptation, and decision making about communication, swallowing, or other upper aerodigestive concerns." Counseling has been variously described as building rapport, providing information, and lending the proverbial "sympathetic ear." While counseling skills are used naturally by many SLPs, the skills and strategies that contribute to building an effective counseling relationship can be learned and incorporated into treatment in all professional settings.

There are a number of theoretical models that have been proposed over the years, such as cognitive-behavioral, rational-emotive, informational-educational, family systems, and client-centered (Flasher & Fogel, 2004). While there are many differences among them, all have in common the basic fundamental concepts of facilitating changes in behavior. While the strategies presented in this paper are generally oriented toward the client-centered approach, as first proposed by Carl Rogers (1942), tenets of other theories that support the overall goal of helping clients make positive changes in their communicative skills and behaviors are blended in as appropriate.

The Nature of Counseling Individuals with Communicative Disorders

Counseling has been described by Rollin (2000) as "the establishment of an effective interpersonal relationship within which client growth and change are fostered." Understanding the characteristics and scope of counseling relationships relevant to the clinical management of communicative disorders is an important first step toward actively incorporating counseling activities into intervention. To alleviate potential concern of some SLPs regarding the possibility of crossing professional boundaries, it is helpful to review characteristics of counseling as it relates to a communicative disorder.

First, counseling in communicative disorders is person-centered rather than disorder-centered. That is, we do not design and implement intervention for a language disorder, but rather to meet the unique needs of a particular child. This is not a new concept. The recent emphasis on using person-first language (e.g., "child with a language disorder" rather than "language-disordered child") when describing our clients reflects our belief in the primary importance of the person over the disorder. Thus, counseling is not employed to "fix" the communicative disorder, per se, but as a means to help clients determine how they can most effectively manage the personal challenges that are posed by the disorder.

shari robertson

Shari Robertson

Related Courses

ApPARENTly This Is Not Going Well: Difficult Conversations with Parents
Presented by Marva Mount, MA, CCC-SLP
Course: #9726Level: Intermediate1 Hour
This course explores emotional intelligence (EQ) and how to "plug in" and use it in situations that go awry with parents of clients. Specific strategies for handling difficult situations and de-escalating arguments are discussed.

Trauma Responsive and Resilience Building Strategies to Support Children
Presented by Julie Kurtz, MS
Course: #1033833Level: Intermediate1 Hour
The neurobiology of trauma, the impacts of toxic stress and trauma on young children's brains and behavior, and the science of resilience and neuroplasticity are described in this course. Trauma-responsive strategies that can help build resilience are also discussed.

Evaluation of Children with Hearing Loss and Suspected Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Early Intervention Perspective
Presented by Wendy Deters, MS, CCC-SLP, LSL Cert AVEd
Course: #8876Level: Intermediate1.5 Hours
This course will examine the similarities and differences between hearing loss (HL) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) so that SLPs can assist in differential diagnosis for children 0-3 years old. Evaluation tools, speech/language characteristics of the degrees of hearing loss, listening skill progression, and typical pragmatic skill development of children with hearing loss will also be discussed.

Back to Basics: IEP and IFSP - Everything You Need to Know from Planning to Implementation
Presented by Laura Ritter, MA
Course: #9148Level: Introductory1 Hour
Related service providers at all levels benefit from learning more about the individualized education program (IEP) and individualized family service program (IFSP) processes. This course will review the legal requirements, cover qualifying disabilities, and establish procedures for meetings with students and families.

Adverse Childhood Experiences: Effects on brain, behavior and clinical practice
Presented by Angela Hein Ciccia, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #8929Level: Advanced1 Hour
This is Part 1 of the five-part series, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE): The Effects of Childhood Trauma on Communication. This course will provide a brief review of conventional and expanded adverse childhood experiences and discuss their implications. Specifically, the impact of ACEs on brain and behavior and the importance of this information to clinical practice for speech-language pathologists will be described. This course is presented in partnership with the American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders (ABCLLD). (Part 2: Course 8981, Part 3: Course 8984, Part 4: Course 8986, Part 5: Course 8992)

Our site uses cookies to improve your experience. By using our site, you agree to our Privacy Policy.