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Speech-language therapists

Ngā Kaihaumanu Reo ā-waha

Speech-language therapists (SLTs) can help you with communication and swallowing difficulties. They can also help your pēpi (baby) or tamaiti (child). For example, if they are having difficulty with swallowing or feeding.

Difficulty with communication or swallowing can affect all aspects of your life. It can also increase your risk of social isolation.

Swallowing difficulties can lead to complications. These can include chest infections or poor nutrition. This is why you should go to a speech-language therapist. The speech-language therapist can help you communicate more easily or eat safely. This will allow you to continue to be part of your school, workplace, or community.

What speech-language therapists do

Speech-language therapists work with people of all ages who have difficulties with:

Speech-language therapists can work with you by yourself or in a group. They may also provide support, training or education to your friends and whānau (family).

They will first assess you or your tamaiti. They may suggest different approaches. These will aim to support your ability to communicate and to ensure you can eat or drink safely. This may include:

Finding a speech-language therapist

Speech-language therapists work in hospitals, schools and aged care facilities. They also work in speech-language clinics. Sometimes they can visit you at home or visit your tamaiti in school. Some speech-language therapists also work with community groups.

The New Zealand Speech-language Therapists' Association (NZSTA) has an online database of members. You can also search on Healthpoint.

Qualifications for speech-language therapists

Speech-language therapists must have an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in speech-language therapy.

The NZSTA has a self-regulatory process. To meet the criteria for membership, registered members must have the necessary qualifications. They must meet professional development requirements and sign annual ethical declarations. They must also sign annual declarations that they have worked as an SLT for the required hours.

Cost of seeing a speech-language therapist

There are criteria for funded speech-language therapy. If you meet the criteria, your general practice team can refer you. There is no cost for these services.

If you do not meet the criteria, you can pay to see a private speech-language therapist. You can also go to a private speech-language therapist if you want to be seen more quickly.

If you need speech-language therapy because of an injury, you may be able to gain funding from ACC.

On the next page: When to see a speech-language therapist

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2023.


Page reference: 298375

Review key: HISCD-79694