Speech & Language Therapist

What does a speech and language therapist (SLT) do?

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) describe speech and language therapy as helping manage disorders of speech, language, communication and swallowing in children and adults.

Speech and language therapists assess and treat a person with specific speech, language and communication problems to enable them to communicate to the best of their ability. They work directly with people of all ages. As allied health professionals they also work closely with parents, carers and other professionals, including teachers, nurses and occupational therapists.

There are around 13,000 practising SLTs in the UK and around 2.5 million people in the UK have a speech or language difficulty:

  • 5% of children enter school with difficulties in speech and language

  • 30% of people who have had a stroke have a persisting speech and language disorder

Examples of when an SLT can help


  • early play and communication skills

  • feeding and swallowing difficulties


  • mild, moderate or severe learning difficulties

  • physical disabilities

  • language delay

  • specific language impairment

  • specific difficulties in producing sounds

  • hearing impairment

  • cleft palate

  • stammering

  • autism/social interaction difficulties

  • dyslexia

  • voice disorders

  • selective mutism

  • swallowing difficulties


  • communication and swallowing problems following acquired neurological impairments and degenerative conditions, including stroke, head injury, Parkinson’s disease and dementia

  • head and neck cancer

  • voice problems

  • mental health issues

  • learning difficulties

  • physical disabilities

  • stammering

  • hearing impairment

Where do speech and language therapists work?

  • community health centres

  • hospital wards

  • outpatient departments

  • schools

  • children’s centres

  • day centres

  • clients’ homes

  • courtrooms

  • prisons

  • young offenders’ institutions

  • independent/private practice

Speech and language therapy also has support roles such as assistant practitioner, assistant speech and language therapist, support worker and bilingual co-worker.


You can refer yourself to your local NHS speech and language therapy service. Or ask your GP, district nurse, health visitor, nursery staff or teacher to make a referral. Contact your local primary care trust (PCT) or GP surgery for the phone number of your local NHS speech and language therapy service.