Top 10 Reasons to Use a Person-Centered Approach in Adult Speech Therapy

person-centered therapy

You’ve probably heard the buzz around “tossing the workbooks” and “closing the game closet” in speech therapy. And it may seem like an abrupt change from our hierarchical worksheet flow of traditional speech therapy tasks.

You’re right. This shift is in fact starkly different from the traditional medical model approach. That’s because it’s all about using personally relevant stimuli and goals to make a difference in the things that matter for each individual person.

Are you still on the fence about making the switch? Check out these reasons why you should seriously consider it.

Top 10 Reasons for Making the Switch to Person-Centered Care

1.Improves Your Treatment Quality

Studies show that patients have better recovery, improved self-awareness, and quicker rates of generalization with person-centered care.1 And isn’t that what it is all about?

When patients have more motivation and trust in the therapy process because they’ve had input on it, they are more likely to adhere to their treatment regimens.2

2. Improves Patient Satisfaction

It’s no surprise that with improved recovery and generalization, patients are more satisfied in formal satisfaction scores. Going forward, patient satisfaction will continue to play a large role in funding and hospital systems. Person-centered care is a way we can address this on the “front lines” in speech therapy.3

3. Adds Value

Studies show person-centered plans are less costly across the continuum of care. These patients are less likely to be readmitted, have fewer diagnostic tests and referrals, and have better emotional health at follow-up.2

4. Translates to Real Life

Workbook drills can be over-structured, making them less comparable and less applicable to everyday life. The goal of therapy is to help your patient meet real life goals, so why not use real life in therapy?

5. Improves Therapist Satisfaction

In the daily grind of productivity—completing therapy minutes, whatever takes place at your practice—it’s easy to have shifts in job satisfaction. With person-centered, meaningful therapy, I’ve found that at the end of the day I can list the tangible ways I’ve helped someone. It’s highly satisfying, and I no longer have to answer questions from patients like “What do these drills have to do with anything?” The connection between therapy and their life is immediate and apparent.

6. Embraces the Future

Person-centered therapy is where speech therapy is going. As Swigert, et al., stated in 2013, “{SLPs} should provide value… by delivering services that improve functional outcomes that matter to clients’ everyday lives.”4

7. Promotes Creativity

Everyone needs a creative outlet of some kind. As I started freeing myself up to be creative to meet a unique goal through speech therapy, my creativity grew and became more natural! I love that my work is also a creative outlet for me.

8. Follows Best Practice Guidelines

Using patient values and input is not a new idea in evidence-based practice, but our growing research in cognitive and language therapy continues to show how important it is to use personally relevant and in-context tasks in therapy.1, 5, 6, 7

9. Meets Insurance Requirements

As the trend in the United States continues toward value-based care, we must show how the speech therapy we do meets a real need for proper reimbursement. Some insurance companies already mandate that the documentation clearly states the functional impact of deficits and what functional improvement is expected.8

10. You Will Learn About Amazing Things!

My patients have taught me about the most interesting topics, work, and hobbies—and we work on the cognitive-communication skills required uniquely for that person! I’ve worked with dog trainers, lawyers, grocery stockers, social workers, parents, ministers, teachers… the list goes on and on. And in the end, they each teach me something and give my work even more meaning.

Have you been convinced to learn more about how person-centered care fits into your practice? You can learn more about person-centered speech therapy in my MedBridge course “Close the Game Closet: Evidence & Tools for a Person-Centered Approach for Treatment of Adult Neurogenic Disorders (Recorded Webinar).”

  1. Cloninger, C. R. & Cloninger, K. M. (2015). Person-centered therapeutics. International Journal of Person Centered Medicine, 1(1), 43–52.
  2. Womack, J. L. (2012). The relationship between client-centered goal-setting and treatment outcomes. Perspectives on Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders, 22(1), 28–35.
  3. DeLollo, A. & Favreau, C. (2010). Person-centered care and speech and language therapy. Seminars in Speech and Language, 31(2), 90–97.
  4. Swigert, N. B., Abrams, H., Cornett, B. S., Green, C. M., Kummer, A. k, McNamara, T. W., & Sabo, D. L.. et al. (2013). Reframing the Professions of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology: Final Report. Retrieved from
  5. Velikonja, D., Tate, R., Ponsford, J., McIntyre, A., Janzen, S., & Bayley, M. (2014). INCOG recommendations for management of cognition following traumatic brain injury, part V: memory. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 29(4), 369–386.
  6. Sohlberg, M., & Turkstra, L. (2011). Optimizing Cognitive Rehabilitation. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
  7. Tippett, D. C. (2012). Current concepts in treatment planning: patient centered and evidence-based practice in speech-language pathology. Perspectives on Gerontology, 17(1), 27–33.
  8. Person-centered care. Retrieved from