Do you really have to be super chatty & extroverted to be an SLT/SALT?

(15 Posts)
brokenkettle Wed 14-Apr-21 22:53:46

If you're an SLT or have experience of working closely with them, any insight on this would be welcome!

I'm considering a career change to become a speech & language therapist. It's been very difficult to get any volunteer/work experience because of the pandemic, so I'm trying to gather as much info as possible!

There's a stereotype that I've noticed - that SLTs are generally very talkative and extroverted. I'm more introverted but perfectly sociable & a good communicator (though not someone who talks & talks...). I have always had a knack for language-related subjects & have experience of supporting individuals.

I find I thrive in a role that has both people-focused/face-to-face interaction AND solo work (e.g. even just paperwork) in order to decompress a bit, and as far as I'm aware, this is possible as an SLT.

Would this career be suitable for someone like me, do you think? Or would it be difficult to fit in or succeed...?

OP’s posts: |
BackforGood Wed 14-Apr-21 23:06:54

I've worked alongside a lot of SaLTs and never seen any pattern of them being "generally very talkative and extroverted"

weaselwords Wed 14-Apr-21 23:09:44

You’ll be fine. Being a good team worker is more important. If you are pretty cooperative it doesn’t really matter how chatty you are.

Stroller15 Wed 14-Apr-21 23:12:19

Our SLT were not overly chatty or extroverted, you'll be fine

Cazz246 Fri 16-Apr-21 11:14:40

Not in my experience! The SaLT I last worked with was so introverted she also had a really quiet voice ( lovely person though)
One afternoon on x2 patient visit I actually fell asleep, I was sat in a comfy armchair in the afternoon sun, the patient had lost all of his speech and the SaLT was trying to communicate with him in such a quiet voice it lulled me off to sleep! Fortunately, she didn’t grass me to our manager!

CoffeeWithCheese Fri 16-Apr-21 11:31:43

Career changing mature student on a SALT course here! It's a mix on our course - there are some very quiet individuals, and some very bubbly ones. The thing with SLT is it's got soooooo many areas you can go into with it that there's pretty much a niche for everyone and what you start off with the idea you want to go into might not be what you end up becoming fascinated with. I started the course really really interested in paeds, but after one placement - I'm really really drawn toward adult ID and mental health now.

We get a lot of talks from former students and SLT in different areas - and the areas they've gone into are so vast - stroke rehab, dysphagia (not my personal fave area on the course I'll admit), traumatic brain injury, intellectual disabilities, forensic work within the criminal justice system and the youth justice system, dementia and degenerative conditions, AAC... it can feel a bit like Dragons Den with everyone trying to persuade you that their "bit" is the most awesome area going!

The key thing isn't being a huge bubbly chatterbox - but I've found it's much more understanding what is making people tick (which is what's drawing me to the areas I'm more and more interested in - it's like a huge muddled ball of yarn and you're unpicking what's going on in people's lives for them to reach this point - and usually it's that there's some deficit in their communication - and then figuring out a way to work that) - obviously it's a bit more of channelling your inner Cbeebies presenter if you're working with kids.

The language background is handy - lots of my cohort have really found linguistics hard and I've pretty much breezed through it because I did Latin at school and then taught a lot of primary school grammar over the years... phonetics is fucking hard as hell but cool as hell (I have really really enjoyed phonetics) and it's pretty much standard operating procedure to be convinced you're going to fail that and then to make it through and then there's a fair amount of medical sciences and anatomy to get through, lots of psychology and human development - plus then all the various disorders and the like. The amount they get us through is bloody bonkers - but I love it.

I'm quite a natural introvert - I'm in the middle of the diagnosis process for Autism myself - but I'm doing OK with it all.

It is also a really really supportive and very close-knit profession (everyone seems to know everyone else) and very very collaborative on Twitter if you're on there - approaching the RCSLT on there or any of the SLT2be hashtags (there are a couple of different spelling variants) might be a good starting point, and I've found uni admissions departments to be very helpful as well - my department are fabulous and have been amazing during all the disruption of Covid (I'm at DMU and I can't praise the department highly enough).

Killerpinkflamingo Sat 17-Apr-21 17:54:04

I’m a mature student career changing to be a SALT too! There’s definitely a mix of people on my course - there are a lot of bubbly, outgoing people but plenty of quieter people too. I like *@CoffeeWithCheese*’s description of channeling your inner CBeebies presenter if you are going to work with kids - that is so true grin Myself, I’m not that kind of person and I am really enjoying the medical side (such as traumatic brain injury and stroke) so I am definitely going to work with adults when I am qualified.

They really do throw so much stuff at you - I had a real wobble at the beginning because it was so overwhelming - but I’m so glad I stuck with it! It’s hard work but so, so interesting. *@CoffeeWithCheese*‘s description is eerily accurate - I was convinced I was going to fail linguistics at first, I found phonetics sooo hard, but then something just clicked and I ended up loving it, and actually doing pretty well in the exam smile Biomedical science is a monster of a module but the stuff you learn is so cool, and I ended up fascinated with my audiology module - who knew the ear and cochlear implants could be so interesting?!

I really recommend the course - it’s very, very hard work but honestly it’s brilliant and I am learning so much! Good luck smile

saraclara Sat 17-Apr-21 17:59:25

All the SALTs I worked with were, if anything, more calm and serious than the average person. It's a job that requires attention to detail and a lot of patience, so (and I know I'm generalising here) rather more introvert traits than extrovert traits.

HoldontoOneMoreDay Sat 17-Apr-21 18:11:17

As the parent of a boy with ASD who has been through speech therapy at various times: no, you don't need to be extroverted. 'Chatty' actually isn't helpful when you're working with a person who has problems processing speech. You do need to be able to engage small children though - whether that's through your voice, facial expressions or whatever. I don't know if that counts as extroverted! smile

HoldontoOneMoreDay Sat 17-Apr-21 18:12:34

To add: SALTS and OTs are my favourite people in the world, so practical and helpful. I never left a session without feeling they were on my side, so I would say empathy is probably the most important thing to me as a parent.

saraclara Sat 17-Apr-21 20:45:13


To add: SALTS and OTs are my favourite people in the world, so practical and helpful. I never left a session without feeling they were on my side, so I would say empathy is probably the most important thing to me as a parent.

I've worked professionally with many SALTs and I can honestly say I've never met one that wasn't thoughtful, intelligent and incredibly helpful. There's definitely an over representation of extremely nice people in the profession, in my experience.

brokenkettle Sat 17-Apr-21 21:06:28

Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences and insights! I suppose I am having doubts as I've worked in other jobs that involve a lot of interaction/talking with people and have little down-time/solo time and I've struggled (as a teaching assistant, for example), whereas the more extroverted staff seemed to thrive.

I'm just trying to get a real feel for the profession in the absence of shadowing opportunities - it'd be a huge risk/commitment for me to give up my salary for 4 years to go back to uni (I can't afford the £18000 required to do the pre-reg MSc!)

For those of you currently studying, have you been able to go on placement? How has it been? How do you find being assessed on clinical work?

OP’s posts: |
weaselwords Sun 18-Apr-21 03:35:33

Our hospital has gad students all the way through the pandemic, but the experience is very different as a lot of assessment and treatment is via video link. It’s a strange time to learn to be an nhs therapist.

brokenkettle Sun 18-Apr-21 13:08:01

Absolutely @weaselwords. Uni is all online too. Not the experience that most undergraduates were hoping to have! (I wouldn't mind though because I'm old now & already did the whole going-to-lectures-hungover thing 15 years ago!)

OP’s posts: |
Sameasiteverwas19 Sun 18-Apr-21 13:32:29

Feel like I'm uniquely placed to answer this as an introverted SLT haha

I'll be honest here, extroverted SLTs are in the majority and I definitely questioned my career path a few times during my MSc. Placements can be tricky if you have a very extroverted educator as I found some expected me to copy their energy and I would come across as awkward and uncomfortable at times. Once I actually started working, I became a lot more confident in being myself - I'm naturally a calm, patient person and I feel this has helped me a lot. You can build great relationships with patients/clients and colleagues without being the loudest one in the room.

I would note though, that I work as a medical SLT - specialized in dysphagia but also did communication work on the stroke wards. I did find that most of the extroverted SLTs went into paeds and quieter/more serious SLTs went into adult work (huge generalization but it's definitely a pattern). I found working with adults really suited me.

If you find that you really need down-time between clients etc, there are lots of community SLT roles in both adults and paediatrics. Community roles with adults often involve driving to see people in their homes so they see less people in a day and have lots of time to themselves in between visits as they drive from place to place. For community paeds you may split your day between different schools or school and clinic etc so still some alone time (in the car!)

Happy to answer any other questions you may have. I have never regretted this career since I started working. I genuinely enjoy my job and I'm never bored!

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