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When deciding whether to work as a school therapist or at a private clinic, there are a number of things to think about. Each setting has advantages and disadvantages, just like with most educational options.
First, it’s crucial to recognize a commonality between settings: private clinicians and school speech therapists are both equally qualified. They have the same graduate education and attend the same master’s programs. While school SLPs are more generalists, private practitioners may opt to specialize based on their personal interests and professional experience. The differentials of School based Speech Therapy vs Private Practice is elaborated below.
Difference between a school-based speech-language pathologist (SLP) and Private SLP
1. Qualifications of School based and Private Practice SLPs
Although some states require speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to have a certificate that allows them to work in a school setting, there is no difference between school-based and outpatient/private SLPs in terms of the training and qualifications that is required to acquire a degree in speech-language pathology. Both clinicians must obtain a graduate degree that includes clinical therapy experience as well as extensive coursework on a wide range of topics related to speech and language development, disorders, and treatment. Following graduation, both school-based and outpatient/private SLPs must pass the praxis exam and complete a Clinical Fellowship Year to be eligible for the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) awarded by the governing body, The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
2. Individual vs. Group Therapy
In a school setting, most children will be seen in small groups (3-5 children). Children are frequently grouped according to age and/or impairment type, and the school-based therapist must tailor sessions to the needs of ALL children in that group. Most school caseloads are relatively large, and a school-based therapist rarely has time to see those students individually. Most children are seen one-on-one in private practice. This allows the therapist to tailor therapy to the needs and learning style of the individual child.
3. Frequency & Duration
School-based therapists typically see children once or twice a week, for a total of 25-30 minutes per group. To minimise loss of instruction time, the speech schedule in a school setting is scheduled around the child’s class schedule. Individual therapy sessions can last 30-60 minutes and are typically scheduled once or twice a week, depending on the client’s schedule and needs.
4. Service Eligibility
Different states and school districts have different rules or policies about how a child can qualify for school-based services. To be eligible for school-based speech/language services, a child must first be evaluated by the schools, then meet these predetermined requirements before receiving an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) through special education.
Regardless of the severity or whether they would “qualify” for services in a school setting, any person who exhibits some sort of communication impairment may receive treatment from a private therapist. A private SLP can provide therapy if the need for supports is demonstrated through evaluation, observation, and parent/caregiver/child feedback.
5. Price of Services
In case a child is eligible for school-based services, the family will be charged nothing as part of FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education), a guarantee under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Private therapy services must be paid for by the family. Some private SLPs accept insurance, while others do not; however, medically coded invoices/receipts are frequently provided for families to submit to their insurance for reimbursement, if their insurance allows.
6. Working Hours
When it comes to School based Speech Therapy vs Private Practice in terms of working hours, the number of weeks that speech language therapists work in a private practice can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the therapist’s schedule, the demands of the practice, and the needs of the clients. Some speech-language pathologists work part time, but most SLPs that work full time put in 40 hours a week. Speech therapists working in a private practice can work all year round for 48 weeks (1920 hours).
Speech language pathologists in a school setting work for the duration of the school year, which is typically around 36 weeks (1440 hours). However, this can vary depending on the specific school district and the needs of the students. Some speech language therapists may also work during the summer months or on a part-time basis.
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