Counseling practices of speech-language pathologists serving persons with aphasia: Examining training and preparedness within clinical practice
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Purpose: This study examined Speech-Language Pathologists' (SLPs') perspectives on the counseling training they have received, and the counseling skills they are implementing into their practice with individuals with aphasia. The American Speech Language Hearing Association depicts counseling as one of the eight main domains of service delivery of speech-language pathology (2016), however there is a limited research base of counseling within the field. There is evidence that SLPs do not feel confident in their counseling skills, and may unintentionally avoid counseling moments when they arise in practice (Simmons-Mackie & Damico, 2011). Method: This study collected qualitative and quantitative data through an online, Qualtrics survey as well as six semi structured interviews. Participants included SLPs working in medical settings with individuals with aphasia. Results: Approximately 47% of SLPs that participated in the survey reported that they took a course on counseling as a graduate student. Despite some education in counseling that participants have received, only 25% of participants engaged in hands-on training as a part of that education. Five points of emphasis arose from the qualitative coding of interviews, including: ambiguity of scope of practice as it relates to counseling, not being prepared for counseling moments in practice, SLPs being the professionals to typically evoke counseling moments from patients, perspective taking when working with patients, and the need for self-care as an SLP. Conclusions: The percentage of counseling courses taken was consistent with the percentage of counseling courses offered found in Doud, Hoepner, & Holland (under revision). However, the small percentage of hands-on training as a part of education suggests the ineffectiveness of counseling training. Feelings of unpreparedness for counseling moments that arise in practice are consistent with that found in Simmons-Mackie & Damico (2011), making the argument for more consistent and effective counseling training for future SLPs.