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HealthInfo Canterbury

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 baby or child if they are having difficulty with swallowing or developing normal feeding skills.

Difficulty with communication or swallowing can affect all aspects of your life and increase the risk of social isolation. Swallowing difficulties can also lead to complications such as chest infections or poor nutrition. This is why it's a good idea to see experts who can help you communicate more easily or eat safely, and continue to be part of your school, workplace, or community.

Finding a speech-language therapist

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

The New Zealand Speech-language Therapists' Association (NZSTA) has an online database of members available in the area.

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 of the NZSTA must have the necessary qualifications, meet professional development requirements, sign annual ethical declarations and sign annual declarations that they have worked as an SLT for the required hours in recent years.

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 individually or in a group. They may also provide support, training, or education to your friends and whānau/family.

After they assess you or your child, they may suggest different approaches to support your ability to communicate and to ensure you can eat or drink safely. This may include:

Cost of seeing a speech-language therapist

If you meet criteria for funded speech-language therapy your GP can refer you. There is no cost for these services.

If you don't meet the criteria, or you want to be seen more quickly, you can pay to see a private speech-language therapist.

If speech-language therapy is needed 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 November 2020.

Page reference: 298375

Review key: HISCD-79694