Other patients may complete a course of speech therapy, but then fail to continue the home practice necessary to maintain the improvements, and in a few months time be struggling once again to be communicating effectively. In both instances, individuals often talk about these "failures" with a sense of embarrassment or shame, as if they lacked the necessary willpower or skills to complete or maintain the recommended course of treatment. Since many of these individuals are also dependent in some way on other people ( spouses or other family members) for help with transportation to and from therapy, they may feel they have let others down, adding another layer of guilt.
If you, too, have attempted speech therapy and "dropped out," but communication is still an important goal, I encourage you to consider re-enrolling in speech therapy. In doing so, it is important for you to recognize that inherent in every effort to complete a program of behavioral change are failures, setbacks and backslides. Think of the number of people you may know who have repeatedly tried to undertake a weight loss diet, or another health regimen.
The inability to complete a program or the failure to maintain improvements through the necessary home practice is an obstacle for most patients dealing with problems from a chronic disease.Talking openly with your therapist about what you liked and did not like about previous treatment, or what the obstacles are for you to practice effectively on your own, can help you be successful as you undertake another course of treatment.
Patients are not all alike. This is a statement I make over and over again, and while appropriate treatment for your speech and voice impairment needs to address the underlying physiology and reflect current information from the research, Successful treatment will include whatever it takes to help you to reach your goals.
If something you are being asked to do in therapy "doesn't feel right" , then it may not be right for you. Develop realistic goals that are based on what you want, and what you can do.
The New Year seems to be the time of year when many of us establish new goals. Setting goals for the future cannot be mired in past experiences of failure. So, as you think about how you might develop some better communication skills this year, write down a few of your own goals. Goals that are:
- Specific ( Think about what behavior/s you wish to change or improve)
- Realistic and potentially achievable ( Can you do this?)
- Measureable ( How will you know that you are speaking better?)
- Lead to some meaningful reward for you ( How will people respond to you? How will you feel about yourself? )
Good Luck and Happy and Healthy New Year!