Many speech-language pathologists utilize scripting when treating clients, as scripting can help patients with aphasia communicate more effectively in common scenarios. By preparing and practicing dialogue for everyday situations, scripting can help clients improve their speech and their self-esteem. It’s less common to see SLPs using scripting to hone their own dialogue within treatment. However, that’s one of the resources Fresh SLP founder Mattie Murrey-Tegels encourages clinicians to take advantage of.
There’s no denying that SLPs are faced with difficult conversations over the course of their careers. From speaking with parents and caregivers about their child’s speech delays to addressing stroke patients, clinicians must take care in the way they approach such discussions. Emotions can be high when delivering a diagnosis or speaking with someone after trauma has occurred. Not only do SLPs need to ensure they provide facts and resources, but they also need to build rapport. This is especially true if such conversations are occurring early on in treatment.
As Mattie mentions in the most recent episode of The Missing Link for SLPs, clients and their caregivers begin forming an opinion of a clinician from the moment an introduction takes place. Leading these introductions and hard conversations with compassion is crucial to building trust. And SLPs will need a trusting relationship to effectively treat their clients.
Although conversations like this can be difficult, having a loose script of what your dialogue might look like can help significantly. Mattie recommends taking advantage of the acronym AIDET when building your own script. This stands for: Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explanation, and Thank you.
So, for example, if an SLP is treating a stroke patient, they should first enter the room and say hello using the person’s name. After acknowledging the patient, they can introduce themselves and explain why they’re there. For duration and explanation, the SLP can estimate how long they’re going to take and give more details about what they’re there to do. Answering any questions the patient may have will also help build trust. Finally, saying thank you at the end can go a long way toward building rapport. Here’s the example Mattie gave of a completed script:
“Hello, Jim. My name is Mattie. I’m the speech therapist working with you today because you’ve had a stroke, and you’re having some trouble swallowing. I just want to look and see how you’re doing today eating and drinking, and seeing if you’re safe and making sure nothing’s going down into your lungs. This will take about 20 minutes. Do you have any questions before we start?”
Since SLPs are typically required to identify their patients, that’s something that can be worked into the script. (In the case of the above scenario, it can also be added in after.) Mattie also suggests working in humor when appropriate. Making a patient laugh or smile will give them a positive first impression of you. The same applies to parents or caregivers.
SLPs can alter their scripts depending on the situation, but they offer a jumping-off point for what might otherwise be an overwhelming conversation. The knowledge of script training is already ingrained in many clinicians, so why not use it to improve treatment on your end as well?