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Let's Philosophize

How to Choose Your Speech Language Pathologist (SLP): Philosophy

Part 3 in our ongoing series How to Choose Your SLP.

You've learned about Setting and Location, two of our six key factors for choosing an SLP who will be the best fit for your child. If you haven't read those yet, check out the links above to see our related posts!

Now, we will delve into our third factor: PHILOSOPHY


No, we aren't talking about Plato or Descartes or Nietzsche. We know nothing about whether God is dead. And sure, 'I think, therefore I am' sounds cool on a T-shirt. But we aren't experts in philosophy tracts.

We are experts in communication, and that includes the philosophy we take when approaching our client's needs.

If you are a parent looking for an SLP, here are the five major philosophies that we suggest parents look for in a potential therapist:


Speech therapists work with kids who have delays and disorders. But when we look at what a child can't do, we can miss so much of what a child is already doing well.

A deficits-based approach is one that focuses on what is disordered or missing. Therapists who use this approach often mean well, trying to fill-in the gaps that they see in expected skills. But this can often cause children to lose confidence, become frustrated, and even withdraw.

In the worst case scenario, therapy is ineffective because the focus is on skills a child 'should' have rather than skills that the child is ready for or interested in.

A strength-based approach, on the other hand, acknowledges what your child is already doing well, integrating those skills into the treatment plan, and building off those skills so your child can access new or more challenging skills.

This type of approach supports your child where they are at and recognizes that treatment should not focus on achieving a predetermined set of skills. Rather, it focuses on what your child needs!

NOTE: Strength-based approaches do not only apply to communication skills. It is also an approach that can be applied to your child's behavior and socio-emotional skills. A child's brain is still developing; they may have tantrums or meltdowns, struggle with attention or impulsivity, and may have avoidant behaviors when things become too difficult. It is essential that we, as therapists, provide supports for the child based on their needs rather than seeing these behaviors as deficits.

When selecting a therapist, parents should ask the clinician about their treatment approach and evaluate whether they focus on your child's deficits or if they notice all of the things your child can do.