Speech Pathology

Speech pathology refers to an area of health medicine that deals with the study, evaluation and treatment of conditions related to language and speech.  The word ‘speech’ means conversation, articulation of thought and vocal expression.  ‘Pathology’ is based on the Greek words ‘pathos’ meaning suffering or disease and ‘logos’ meaning word or the study of.

Speech pathology assesses a wide variety of speech issues such as word pronunciation, voice fluency (stuttering), and vocal motor skills and language impairments including social language skills, comprehension, and delays in language development.  Language can be further categorized into (1) ‘expressive’ - problems in producing speech and (2)‘receptive’ - problems in understanding what is being said or heard.  Issues can arise from semantics, grammatical structure and context.  Speech pathology can also include swallowing disorders which can affect both children and adults.

Evaluation begins with an initial consultation but may continue through therapy sessions as well. It is difficult for parents to know whether or not their child is developing in their communication skills in an age appropriate way or if intervention is needed.  Delays in development can be attributed to such things as hearing loss, premature birth, or problems with oral motor skills. Sometimes a consultation can be helpful if even just as a source of valuable information. Therapy can seek to address specific skills but in the end bring greater benefits.  In the words of one parent “….not only did speech improve dramatically, but she (the child) also gained self-confidence”2

Early clinical work in speech pathology in Canada began in the 1930’s and was done in a hospital setting.  Later in the 50’s and 60’s qualified speech therapists coming to Canada from Britain began to practice.  Professional associations formed.  In 1953 the GF Strong Rehabilitation Center was built in Vancouver.  A preschool hearing program and subsequently a school age program were both initiated. Later education programs were developed at UBC.

There are several speech pathologists working out of private practice as well as local agencies which have therapists on staff who offer services in speech, hearing or language or a combination thereof.   

Specific Techniques


Select a region to view to corresponding Speech Pathology professionals operating there: