Hearing and Speech Therapy
Speech therapy is a form of therapy which is designed to address language and speech disorders. It is typically provided by a speech therapist, who may work with a psychologist, physiotherapist, or psychiatrist, depending on the patient's condition. Speech therapists can address speech and language issues as they occur, and they may also provide preventative care which is designed to stop such disorders before they start.
Language disorders involve an inability to utilize language. People with language disorders may have psychological issues like stuttering, or they may have cognitive impairments which make it difficult for them to connect critical features of spoken language. Speech therapy for language disorders starts with determining the extent of the disorder, exploring the underlying cause, and then addressing the cause with the patient, using a variety of exercises to help the patient overcome the disorder.
People recovering from strokes and brain injuries may also experience language disorders as a result of cognitive impairments. For these patients, speech therapy can help the patient recover his or her former language faculties, or develop a new method of communication if it is impossible for the patient to fully recover. Speech therapists can also address emotional discomfort caused by slurred speech or difficulty speaking after a stroke, helping patients feel more confident.
Speech disorders involve physical obstacles to speech which create speech impediments or difficulty speaking, such as disorders of the vocal cords. Speech therapy for these types of conditions involves an assessment of the patient, which may be assisted by a doctor who can help the speech therapist determine what is causing the problem, followed by the development of a treatment plan to help the patient learn to speak. Speech therapists can also help patients learn to use various tools which can assist with communication.
Speech therapy can also be used to help people overcome thick accents, or in the treatment of transgendered individuals who want to retrain their voices as part of their transition process. Being able to suppress accents can be important for people who are interested in advancing professionally.
Children can sometimes develop speech impediments which will grow worse over time. Early speech therapy can address such impediments before they become severe, preventing the development of problems in the future. Because speech issues can also be the sign of an underlying medical problem, it is important for parents to take their children to a speech therapist if they develop issues with speech or language.
Hearing therapy is an approach to the treatment of hearing problems, stress, and mental health issues with the use of sound. It is considered a form of alternative medical therapy and may not be covered by insurance providers and government benefits programs. Some people use this therapy in complementary medicine, where they mix conventional and alternative approaches to treatment, and others may use it as a standalone therapy. Practitioners can be found in many regions and have varying qualifications.
Promoters of hearing therapy believe that sound can be relaxing and soothing for people and this can be harnessed in treatment for various conditions. Some people may engage in their own hearing therapy by listening to relaxing, pleasant music while meditating or relaxing at the end of a stressful day. Hearing therapy programs designed for people with stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues may include listening to selected tones, as well as listening to music and nature sounds like waves or animals.
Some practitioners claim this therapy can be used in the treatment of conditions like auditory processing disorder and tinnitus, to retrain the ears. Such programs have varying degrees of success and have not been studied extensively in controlled environments. People with sensory sensitivity sometimes use hearing therapy in systematic desensitization, where they use low-level sound to get used to hearing noises so they can feel more comfortable in loud or chaotic environments. Sensitivity to particular sounds or ranges of sounds may also be addressed in this way.
Approaches to hearing therapy vary, from people who believe it can be applied to everything from stress to cancer to advocates for the use of this therapy as an adjunct medical treatment. A commonly accepted use of hearing therapy in traditional medicine involves the employment of a white noise machine at night to help people sleep. People with sleep disorders sometimes find it easier to sleep with white noise or mild background noises in the bedroom to drown out environmental noises.
People interested in using this technique or integrating it into an existing treatment plan can discuss options with alternative medical providers in their areas. Searching for “hearing therapy” and a specific region in a search engine should also turn up a list of people offering this service. Providers with websites usually provide information about their treatment philosophies, techniques, and services offered to give prospective clients some idea of whether they would be a good fit.