3 Tips To Not Panic with Adult Voice Clients

3 Tips To Not Panic with Adult Voice Clients

When I attended voice therapy as a patient, I had worries that a “Speech Therapist” would know nothing about voice or music. When I arrived at my first session and my SLP not only could sing, but could play piano, she was speaking my language. I had never felt so comforted and I knew that I was in the right place.

Fast forward to my career as a voice-specialized SLP now, my biggest desire is to help all SLPs understand more about voice. Historically, it is not a very popular sect of the profession, and it can be so intimidating that SLPs either try with the limited knowledge they have and sometimes harm the patient, or they refer out and the patient ends up not getting any care. 

The “Don’t Panic” Adult Voice Starter Kit is something that I made mid 2021 for pediatric populations with voice disorders, but now I’ve modified it to serve you as you specifically see adult voice patients.

This began as a conversation with a school-based SLP friend that I am friends with. She was telling me that every single time a voice client POPS up on her caseload, she begins to freak out. She told me that when that happened, because it was so infrequent, she would immediately begin doubting her clinical expertise and start scrambling for her student notes. She wanted something to help her feel confident when her mind went blank, and something she could easily save to her hard drive to refer to.

As part of my life goal of making voice science more accessible, I finished up my “Don’t Panic” Adult Voice Starter Kit. What’s that? It’s a 7 page free download that can give you tips/pointers to remember that get you set up for success when you find a voice client on your caseload.

But to get you started, here’s 3 tips that you can use right away:

A basic voice evaluation consists of imaging, perceptual and acoustic evaluations. 

Imaging is getting your eyes on the vocal cords. This can be a videostroboscopy (a slow motion video of the vocal cords) or flexible endoscopy. This is usually done by an ENT but can be performed by a specially trained SLP. Perceptual assessment is what you hear with your ears, and there are multiple ways you can rate this (CAPE V, GRBAS) so you can track progress in the future. Even without special training, you have the ability to give feedback on what you can hear. Acoustic assessment is when you record things like connected speech and/or singing sample, a voice range profile (high, low, loud and soft vocal variations), and other measurable numbers that detect roughness or clarity in the voice.  

There are 2 types of voice therapy: Indirect and Direct.

Indirect voice therapy is all the things you suggest that would have an indirect effect on the voice and laryngeal areas. These are things you could help address with the ENT and other physician providers as a team. Direct voice therapy consists of techniques you use to change things such as vocal placement, style, volume, or coordination to improve function.

Your patients are human beings.

It’s important to remember that all the textbooks, research articles, observation hours and class projects you have completed to try and learn what you can about voice disorders are just that. Direct patient care requires you to listen to your patients and respond to their unique needs and desires with your knowledge. It requires you to be honest and to admit your biases and shortcomings. If you’re in doubt? Seek mentorship in this area or refer to a more specialized SLP.

Grab your copy of the  “Don’t Panic” Adult Voice Starter Kit now!

Link to the picture below: https://www.atempovoicecenter.com/freebie-library/free-dont-panic-kit-adult-voice/

Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She rehabilitates voice and swallowing at her private practice, a tempo Voice Center, and lectures on voice science nationally. She is part of the Professional Development Committee for ASHA Special Interest Group 3, Voice and Upper Airway Disorders, and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Pan-American Vocology Association. Knickerbocker blogs on her website at  www.atempovoicecenter.com. She has developed a line of instantly downloadable voice assessment and voice therapy materials on TPT or her website. Follow her on Pinterest, on Instagram or like her on Facebook. Also check out what she and her partners are building at www.confidentclinician.com.


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