If you’re a speech-language pathologist, at some point in your career, you may have the good fortune of being assigned a speech-language pathology assistant, or SLPA. Working with an SLPA can be a rewarding opportunity to form a mutually beneficial professional relationship and can significantly ease your daily workload.
Having the help of an SLPA will require some supervisory responsibilities on your part. These best practices for SLPA supervision can help you ensure the relationship is productive and positive, meets state regulations, and supports student success.
SLPA Supervision Best Practices
1. Establish ground rules.
Make sure you and your SLPA are both familiar with your state’s SLPA supervision requirements. See the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) state-by-state guidelines for details. When you and the SLPA first meet, discuss expectations upfront.
- What will communication look like?
- Will you and your SLPA have scheduled weekly check-ins, or will they occur as needed?
- Is it best to communicate by text, email, or phone?
- How would your SLPA prefer to receive feedback?
- How many hours per month will direct supervision occur?
2. Invite your SLPA to observe your therapy.
SLPAs are often observed during therapy but can benefit tremendously from watching their supervisors in action. Describing a therapy technique will never be as effective as demonstrating it in real time. Additionally, watching someone else work with a student without the pressure of interacting can help a person see things in a new light. SLP supervisors know this because we often observe our assistants. It makes sense to provide your assistant with the same opportunity.
3. Learn your strengths and weaknesses as a supervisor.
To discover areas in which you can grow with regard to supervision, you can use ASHA’s self-assessment tool. Once you know your areas of need, you can form a plan for continuing education in these areas.
4. Treat your SLPA as a colleague.
It might be your SLPA’s first year, or it might be their 25th year. Either way, you are on the same team, working to meet the needs of the students. Showing your appreciation for all the work they do, from handling a large swath of your caseload to staying on top of documentation, will help them feel valued, as they should.
Other SLP and SLPA Resources
We hope you find these best practices for SLPA supervision (compiled by SLPs on our team of educational professionals) a useful addition to your speech-language pathology toolkit. For further reading on the SLP-SLPA relationship, visit ASHA’s page on speech-language pathology assistants.