What is a speech and language therapist?

Speech and language therapists (SLTs) are allied health professionals (AHPs) who provide diagnosis, treatment, support and care for children and adults who have difficulties with communication, or with eating, drinking and swallowing.

Using specialist skills, SLTs work directly with clients and their carers and provide them with tailored support. They also work closely with other professionals in health, education and social care to develop individual treatment programmes.


SLTs work with people who have speech, language and communication difficulties.

Communication difficulties can happen to anybody at any time of their life and might include difficulties with: speech, fluency, voice, understanding language, expressing yourself and social communication.

SLTs might work with clients to help develop their communication skills, to look at other ways to communicate or to help carers to create environments that promote communication.


Eating, drinking and swallowing

Dysphagia is used to describe difficulty with swallowing caused by neurological or structural damage which interferes with the movement of food or fluid from the mouth to the stomach. SLTs are involved in the assessment, diagnosis and monitoring of eating, drinking and swallowing problems.

We provide recommendations regarding appropriate food and drink textures and education and advice to clients and carers.

We work closely with other health professional such as dieticians, physiotherapists and occupational therapists to support people to eat and drink safely and maximise independence and enjoyment at mealtimes.

Speech and language therapy at our Trust

The Trust’s speech and language therapy team includes registered therapists, therapy assistants and associate practitioners who work across Teesside, North Yorkshire, York and Selby, County Durham and Darlington.

SLTs currently work in the following clinical areas:

  • learning disabilities
  • forensic services
  • mental health services for older people (MHSOP)
  • adult autism service
  • child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)
  • offender health.

SLTs are also involved in clinical research, Trust policy and pathway development, teaching and training. They also provide clinical placements and supervision for student speech and language therapists from local universities.

Making a referral to speech and language therapy

Anybody can make a referral to speech and language therapy.

You can contact a speech and language therapist yourself or you can ask someone to contact the speech and language therapist for you.

Your care co-ordinator, GP, carer or other professional may ask a speech and language therapist to come and see you.

Where do we work?

SLTs see people in a variety of settings including:

  • clients’ own homes
  • day centres
  • schools and colleges
  • clinics
  • hospitals
  • police stations and
  • prisons.

More information

For more information about speech and language therapy go to the:

Easy read version of this leaflet
An easy read version of this leaflet is available: L999E Speech and language therapy.

Reference:  L1000
Version:  V1
Last updated:  30 / 04 / 2018
Archive date:  30 / 04 / 2021