After a decade and a half of working in the field of speech language pathology, I finally discovered the key to SLP happiness. This is our final, and most important, installment of our five-part series: How to Happily be an SLP. We have talked about what you need to know and how you can do it (e.g., making your efforts more cumulative, doing intensive speech therapy , using great speech therapy materials and hanging out with teachers). Now, folks, it’s time to remember your why.
What Keeps You in the Field of Speech-Language Pathology?
What is your why? It’s the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do (Senek, 2015). Why did you get into this field in the first place? For me, my closest friend growing up was a person who stuttered. I remember him changing his order at restaurants to make sure he would not stutter on a word. At times, I would sit across from him knowing that he was eating something he did not enjoy. I remember spending time rehearsing his high school presentations late into the evening. It was the catalyst to my profession, and I grateful for that gift from him. So, my why is that I am an SLP because, at the end of the day, I helped human hearts feel better by giving them opportunities to tell their stories.
Know Why You Got into the Field of Speech Language Pathology
I know our field is not easy. In fact, there are days when you guys tell me that you want to quit. I have too many on my caseload. I have no idea how to test a person who is non-verbal. Am I making a difference? In those moments, remember your WHY. You tell me that you got into the field to help others. You surely are. You tell me you got into the field to support children with autism. You already have, and your student and his family are thankful for you. You tell me that your adult client is now able to get a job because of the communication device you helped support. You were a (BIG) part of his success. When we are bogged down with the daily paperwork, bureaucracy and documentation, it is easy to dwell in the land of the what I need to do and how the heck do I do this. Take a long breath, and remember your why.
Create a Feel-Good Folder
One way I do this is by keeping a Feel Good folder. This brilliant idea was given to me by my awesome co-lead Tammy Qualls years ago. Keep all of the comments, notes, feel-goods about your job in one place. Then, when you need a kind reminder about your why, take a journey through your Feel Good folder. At the end of the day, know that you are living a great SLP story, and your work is meaningful and significant.
So, there you have it, friends. These 5 reasons keep me afloat as an SLP int the field of speech language pathology. We are surely a part of the most fulfilling profession to exist on this planet.
And, for good measure, here are 10 Awesome Reasons Why Being a Speech Pathologist Rocks!