Orthophonie / Logopaedics / Speech and language therapy

These three terms cover the same concept in all countries, with small differences in individual countries reflected in areas of competence or professional practice.

Definition and areas of competence

Speech Language Pathology and Logopaedics is both a scientific domain and an autonomous profession. As a science, it is at the intersection of medical, linguistic, educational and psychological sciences and focuses on etiology, assessment* and intervention** of communication and swallowing disorders***.

* including screening, identification, evaluation, and diagnosis
** including promotion, prevention, counselling, treatment, consultation, management, (re-)habilitation and education
*** see professional profile of the logopedist, definition of the logopedist, and role & function of the logopedist in “CPLOL, 1988-1998, 10 Years of Activity”

To see the Professional Profile, please go to Documents

Speech and language therapists / logopedists provide treatment in the following areas:

  • disorders of articulation
  • speech disorders
  • voice disorders (with a functional cause, as a result of trauma or organic, developmental or acquired)
  • spoken language disorders
  • written language disorders (dyslexia, dysorthographia, dysgraphia)
  • disorders affecting mathematical and logical reasoning
  • early education and therapy for a variety of disabilities in young children
  • teaching of lip-reading to people who have developed a hearing impairment
  • teaching deaf children to speak, and language therapy for people with acquired hearing impairment
  • aphasia therapy and other speech and language disorders with a neurological origin
  • feeding and swallowing therapy
  • therapy for disorders affecting the Eustachian tube

Increasingly, speech and language therapists-logopedists are involved in prevention work (training and informing health professionals and health promotion) and in screening (early screening for language disorders in children).

Through their work, speech and language therapists-logopedists help people to return to educational, professional, social and cultural life. They are also involved in disorders arising in the aging adult population, and in the field of illiteracy (through their specific areas of expertise).

They collaborate with the patient's medical practitioner, their family, and educational, work or social contacts.

They undertake a preliminary assessment, examining and assessing the disorders observed, identifying as far as possible their cause and making both diagnosis and prognosis; they then decide whether therapy is required.

Using individual or group therapy, speech and language therapists-logopedists draw on their clinical experience to employ techniques which will enable all clients to maximise their verbal or non-verbal communicative potential.

Professional practice

Speech and language therapists-logopedists across Europe may practise in different sectors and settings, according to the particular
socio-economic circumstances in their own country:

- in the health sector, in particular in:

  • maintaining communication for people with cerebral disorders associated with aging
  • hospitals
  • therapeutic and rehabilitation centres
  • special medical-educational institutions
  • special centres for children with disabilities (the deaf and hard of hearing, those with motor disabilities, blind and partially sighted, learning disabilities
  • child psychiatric units
  • nursing homes
  • private practice (this sector has a long history in France and is now becoming established in all other countries).

- in the education sector:

  • special units
  • mainstream schools which integrate children with disabilities.

- in the area of prevention (special services for prevention and screening for health and social problems)

- in the area of combatting illiteracy

Funding for therapy

In different countries, therapy is usually financed either by:

  • social security systems (sickness insurance)
  • individual private health insurance
  • by the State or other public authorities

In many countries, because of the statutory basis of the profession, therapy must be prescribed by a medical practitioner and the costs are then covered with their agreement.