Making the Most of Your Initial Consultation

Written by: Megan Smith / Treatment / June 2019

If you are reading this blog, you have likely been thinking about your speech or communication recently. Speech-language pathologists are trained in the assessment and treatment of many types of communication (and swallowing!) difficulties. Clients visit our clinic to work on social skills, stuttering, voice, aphasia or other language disorders, pronunciation, enunciation, accent, and more!

When visiting many other kinds of healthcare professionals, the general public has a good sense of what will happen.

When visiting a physiotherapist, you will sit in the waiting area, and the assessment will include a history of your injury/issue, some movement, and potentially manual manipulation of the area involved. At the dentist, it is assumed that they will look in your mouth and clean your teeth. You also know not to expect dental surgery unless you are warned in advance. For speech-language pathologists, people often have no idea of what their first appointment, or any other appointment, might look like. For a brief explanation, read ahead.

BEFORE THE APPOINTMENT:

After booking your appointment, either through our online booking system or our Director of Service, you will receive a confirmation by email. Congratulations, you’ve just started the treatment process!

 

Here is what to do next:

  • Complete our Intake Form: This will be sent out by email. The intake form speeds up the administrative and case history requirements of this appointment, and allows more time to focus on assessing your communication skills and setting personalized goals.

  • Bring what you need (if applicable): Have a medical report that you want us to see? A communication aid that you use regularly? Or maybe a written list of things to cover during the appointment to keep yourself on track? Bring them!

  • Think about your goals: What are you hoping to accomplish in speech therapy? If you have multiple goals (e.g. a louder and more confident voice as well as a modified accent), then what are your priorities? Some thinking about this will help your speech-language pathologist choose the best treatment strategies for you.

ADMINISTRATIVE TASKS:

These are the things that must be completed during this appointment. Because they are required by our regulatory body, or for administrative reasons, they cannot be skipped.

  • Confirming your information: Most of our files are personal health information, and as such are required to be accurate to the standards outlined in the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA).

  • Reviewing consent and confidentiality: You will have read about these if you completed your intake form, but a quick review to ensure that you understood is required. Understanding your rights as a client will help you advocate for the best care possible.

  • Describing our clinic’s policies: You will have read about these in the intake form as well, but much like consent and confidentiality, it will be important to know this information well. Having a good understanding of our cancellation window, invoicing procedures and payment options will help you decide whether our clinic will be the best fit for you.

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YOUR AREA OF CONCERN:

This section of the appointment will begin with a prompt to describe the reason why you booked your appointment. Tell us whatever you think is important, even if you aren’t sure how it relates. We will follow up with our questions or activities as needed:

  • Medical history: Depending on the reason why you came in, we may have many follow-up questions about not only your current issue, but any other medical conditions or other diagnoses that you may have.

  • Information about your life: Communication skills are often highly dependent upon their context. We will ask some questions about you to learn about how you communicate with others, what your background is, what your work or school life is like, and what your hobbies and interests are.

  • Structured Assessment? Maybe! Depending on how long everything else takes to cover, we may be able to begin the assessment process during this appointment! Assessment looks very different for different areas of interest, and can include asking questions about the issue, taking recordings, measuring different features of your voice (such as pitch), or having you read words and sentences out loud. Even if more structured assessment cannot take place, you speech-language pathologist is always listening, and may be able to suggest some areas for exploration at your next appointment.

  • Referrals: In some cases (for example, if you came to the clinic because of chronic hoarseness in your voice), we may need to refer you to an audiologist, laryngologist, or other medical professional for assessment before we can begin direct treatment of your problem. In these cases, we will try to give you some names to choose from, or point you to somewhere to look to find your own options.

  • Ask YOUR questions too! We will do our best to provide any information that you need to know (or, at the very least, describe our plan to get that information during the rest of the assessment process).

BEFORE YOU LEAVE:

These are the final items to cover during your appointment time.

  • Payment information: Because our clinicians and administrative staff work different hours, your speech-language pathologist will collect your payment at the end of the appointment.

  • Scheduling: This is an important step if you plan to return for multiple appointments! For clients with complex scheduling needs, our online booking tool may be a better scheduling alternative.

  • Our gift to you: We provide our clients with a welcome package, including some written information about our rates and policies, your clinician’s contact information, and any helpful information or tools from the assessment process so far. We may also provide an assignment to complete before your next appointment: tracking examples of your communication in action, completing screening or assessment questionnaires, or something to practice at home to help bring you closer to your goals.

There is a great deal of information to cover during only a half hour of time, but our initial consultations will set the stage for the remainder of the treatment or consultation process. From here on out, your clinician will be available to answer any questions that you may have about the treatment process.


To book your initial consultation at Well Said, call (647) 795-5277 or use the link below. We look forward to meeting you!