Speech Therapist vs Speech Pathologist
As a private Speech Therapy practice, one question we get asked a lot (by clients and students!) is ‘What is the difference between a Speech Therapist and a Speech Pathologist?’.
You may have already noticed when scouring the internet that there are many different terms used; from Speech Therapist and Speech Pathologist through to Speech Language Pathologist and, a fun one, Speechies!
The truth is all of these terms can be used interchangeably. That means that there is no real difference between someone who calls themselves a Speech Therapist, a Speech Pathologist, or a Speech Language Pathologist.
No matter the title, someone working as a Speech Pathologist or Speech Therapist will need to complete a university qualification to practice. In Australia, they’ll also need to register with Speech Pathology Australia.
Which Term to Use: Speech Therapist vs Speech Pathologist
In Australia, the term ‘Speech Pathologist’ seems to be the most popular when referring to someone in this profession. In other countries, Speech Language Pathologist, or the acronym ‘SLP’ are widely used.
Some individuals and clinics may prefer to call themselves Speech Therapists. Speech Therapists as a term makes sense as we develop, plan, and deliver targeted Speech Therapy sessions for our clients.
As a rule of thumb, when working with a speech professional it’s best to use the terminology that they use to describe themselves either on their business card, website, or when they introduce themselves on your first visit.
What Do Speech Pathologists Do?
While there is no difference between how Speech Therapists and Speech Pathologists approach their work, some say that the term ‘Pathologist’ is an important addition to the title.
The reason being that the term ‘Pathology’ describes the study of the causes and effects of disease or injury. As Speech Language Pathologists, we are trained in a variety of developmental and acquired disorders ranging from speech and language to voice and swallowing.
Through careful assessment and comprehensive evaluation, qualified Speech Therapists and Speech Pathologists alike can determine the cause of speech, language, literacy, swallowing and/or feeding difficulties. From there, these incredible clinicians are then able to develop personalised therapy plans to support clients in achieving their goals.
Why Would Someone Call Themselves a Speech Therapist?
With so many terms to choose from, you may be wondering why a clinician may choose to refer to themselves as a Speech Therapist (especially when pathologist sounds so fancy!). At the end of the day, the treatment and support we offer our clients is referred to as Speech Therapy. This is a big reason why some clinicians prefer to be known as Speech Therapists.
The more we think about it, even the term ‘Speech Language Pathologist’ doesn’t quite capture the entirety of our scope of practice. For example, we work with so many different individuals – including those who don’t need direct speech and language support! Speech Pathologists and Speech Therapists alike can support individuals with attention, memory, problem-solving and social interaction challenges.
With such a wide scope of practice, perhaps in the future we’ll find a new term to describe who we are and what we do!
Are you thinking about becoming a Speech Therapist or Speech Pathologist? Take a look at our helpful guide to see what a career in Speech Therapy could look like for you!
More interested in the Speech Therapy options available at SpeechEase? Take a look at our services here.