SLTs’ conceptions about their own and parents’ roles during intervention with preschool children

Karen Davies, Julie Marshall, Laura Brown, Juliet Goldbart

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Background Current research investigating collaboration between parents and speech and language therapists (SLT) indicates that the SLT role is characterised by therapist-led practice. Co-working with parents of children with speech and language difficulties is less frequently described. In order to embrace co-working during intervention, the SLT role may need to be reframed, focusing on acquiring skills in the role of coach as well as the role of planning intervention and treating children.
Aims This paper reports (i) SLT conceptions of their own roles during intervention for pre-school children with speech and language difficulties and (ii) SLTs’ conceptions of parents’ roles during intervention.
Methods and procedures A qualitative study used individual, semi structured interviews with twelve SLTs working with pre-school children. Open ended questions investigated SLTs’ expectation of parents, experience of working with families, and the SLTs’ conception of their roles during assessment, intervention and decision-making. Thematic Network Analysis was used to identify basic, organisational and global themes.
Results and outcomes SLTs had three conceptions of their own role during intervention: treating, planning and coaching. The roles of treating and planning were clearly formulated but the conception of their role as coach was more implicit in their discourse. SLTs’ conception of parents’ roles focused on parents as implementers of activities and only occasionally as change agents.
Conclusions and implications Collaboration that reflects co-working may necessitate changes in conception of role for both SLTs and parents. SLTs and parents may need to negotiate roles, with parents assuming learner and adaptor roles and SLTs adopting a coaching role to activate greater involvement of parents. Applying conceptual change theory offers new possibilities of understanding and enabling changes in SLTs’ conception of roles, potentially initiating a deeper understanding of how to achieve co-working during speech and language intervention.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Early online date19 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • SLT role
  • co-working
  • conception of roles
  • parents
  • pre-school children


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