The following is a case study of Lizel Mc Duling, a speech therapist based in Bloemfontein.
We chat with Liezl Mc Duling, a speech therapist about what speech therapy is and everything private practice management related.
What is a speech therapist.
Alright, so basically, a speech therapist is a person who studies human communication, and also the development of communication, and then the different disorders that you can get. And then what we do is we can assess speech and language and cognitive-communication, as well as feeding and swallowing disorders. And then once we’ve assessed these different types of categories, we also work on our plan on how to treat these different categories.
What made you decide to become a speech therapist.
In that exactly, as you said, people don’t realize the scope of practice that we have. Usually, they only think it’s to help a child say a sound correctly, it etcetera. But we have such a broad category. And it’s very interesting to see the different types of disorders that you get. And also, there’s actually a big need for speech therapists in South Africa. And it’s especially the area that I’m in, I’m in the Free State, and there’s not a lot of speech therapists. So that made me decide to become a speech therapist.
Did you have any role models or mentors perhaps growing up that led you towards the speech therapy field?
I think it’s a bit of both. So when you become a speech therapist, you must have some kind of, you know, love for languages and the rules of languages. And my mum is a language teacher. So I think I just always loved languages and the rules that go with them. And then also, while actually doing a bit of research on speech therapy, it just all fitted together like a puzzle and then that made me decide to do it.
Do you have any role models or mentors at the moment that you look up to in the field?
Yes, so I mainly work with children. And I have a special interest in working with children who are classified as late talkers. So that can be because of any reason. And Corinne Moray is a very experienced speech therapist in this area, she also works a lot with cerebral palsy children, children on the autistic spectrum, etc. So I really look up to her, and I can learn a lot from her. So I, she’s a person that I usually follow.
How long have you been in private practice for now?
I have been in private practice for three years now.
Were there any challenges that you faced when you were opening up your practice.
Yes. So basically, the first challenge would be just building a caseload because it’s a, it was a brand new practice. So building the caseload was quite challenging, but also very fun, in a way. So you know, you can, you can do things your way. So that was the first challenge. And then also the admin part of it, because there’s a lot of admin coming into starting the private practice. And then also, when you get new clients, there’s a lot of admin going into that. Because yes, you need to load them onto your system, same claims through medical aids, do your filing, and then you still have to therapy part as well, you need to plan for sessions. And then also send out the HOME program. So especially in the starting stages, it’s a lot of admin going into it.
So, did you have anyone assisting you when you were starting out, you know, an office admin person.
Yeah, so I didn’t have an office admin person, but I’ve previously worked for another speech therapist in private practice. So at least I could depend on her to just give me a few guidelines. And so I was not completely on my own.
Where would people start looking to get into contact with a speech therapist?
So I think the main thing is parents, so parents would usually call you most often if I can put it like that. So when when they see the little one is not speaking and other children are speaking, or not saying enough words, according to them. Or, you know, if they’re not as fluent or pronouncing words differently or not correctly, then they would reach out to a speech therapist. Also, adults after suffering a stroke or a traumatic brain injury. And they will also, you know, then call you if the patient has problems with speaking or talking after the event.