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Speech pathology

4-minute read

What is a speech pathologist?

A speech pathologist or speech therapist is an allied health professional. They are trained to diagnose and treat communication disorders. This includes problems with:

  • speaking
  • listening
  • reading
  • social skills
  • stuttering
  • understanding language
  • using voice
  • writing

They also help people with swallowing and feeding problems.

Speech pathologists need to have a degree in speech pathology. Many speech pathologists are members of Speech Pathology Australia (SPA). This means that they have an appropriate qualification.

A Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist has met certain standards of practice. You can check if a speech pathologist is certified by searching the SPA website.

What conditions can a speech pathologist help me with?

Speech pathologists can help people who have difficulty communicating because of:

Speech Pathologists can also help people who have difficulty swallowing and eating.

How do I find a speech pathologist?

You can find a speech pathologist by:

  • using Speech Pathology Australia’s ‘Find a speech pathologist’ service
  • calling Speech Pathology Australia on 1300 368 835

You don’t usually need a referral from your doctor to see a speech pathologist. In some situations, Medicare will cover some of the costs of your appointment, but you need to have a chronic disease management plan prepared by your doctor.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find speech pathologists and other health services in your area.

What should I ask the speech pathologist before making an appointment?

Before making an appointment, you might want to ask the speech pathologist what they charge. Speech pathologists set their own fees and may charge different fees for different services.

It’s a good idea to ask the speech pathologist if they have worked with people with problems like yours. Speech pathologists often develop special interest areas or age groups that they like to work with. For example, some may have extra training in: literacy for children with learning disabilities or helping people with accents.

You might also want to ask where you will see them.

Where do speech pathologists work?

Speech pathologists work in many different settings. You might find a speech pathologist in a:

  • hospital
  • aged care facility
  • school or early childhood education service
  • private practice
  • community health centre

Some speech pathologists will do home visits.

How much does it cost to see a speech pathologist?

The cost of seeing a speech pathologist can vary. It’s best to ask the cost before you make an appointment.

In some cases, Medicare might cover some of the costs, but only if your doctor refers you.

If you have private health insurance, some of your costs might be covered. Check with your health fund to see what is covered.

People with a disability might be entitled to help with the cost of a speech pathologist through programs like the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). You can call the NDIS to learn more on 1800 800 110.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2022

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