Are SLPs Worth Their Fees?

Downs Syndrome boyhaving speech therapy

Absolutely. Two of the greatest pleasures in life are communicating with others to get your wants and needs met and eating, especially in a social setting for many.

What does an SLP do?

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP’s) are highly-trained professionals who evaluate and treat children and adults who have difficulty with speech, language (including pragmatic-language/social skills), communication and/or feeding. Often times, when I meet someone I get the “oh you help people talk!” or “oh so you help people with lisps”. While the answer is, yes, for some clients, it is far more complex than it sounds. And for me, this is a small percentage of the clientele I treat.

[For a deeper understanding of what we work on you can read about the difference between speech and language here]

WHO does an SLP work with?

SLP’s work with children and adults across the lifespan and have been highly-trained to do so. Some SLP’s will specialize in a specific age group (e.g., early intervention (birth to 5), school-aged, adults, geriatric), while others will specialize in working with clients or patients with specific delays and/or disorders (e.g., autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, language delays, ADHD, etc.). Others prefer to work with various clients across ages with various disorders.

I for one, specialize in working with the birth to 5 population and absolutely LOVE working with preschoolers. Taking it one step further, I love working with children with severe language delays, autism and/or feeding disorders. And I am highly skilled and trained in working with this population, so my fee’s reflect that.

What should my SLP charge me?

This is a tough question to answer. It depends on the therapist’s experience, areas of expertise, the area you live in (cost of living), and business expenses need to be taken into account as well. After all, SLP’s are running a business just like any other business owner. Living just outside of Washington, DC the going rates for a 50-minute session typically ranges from $120-150 (and it can be higher, but wont be lower!).

So why do SLP’s charge “high” rates?

As previously mentioned, we are highly-trained professionals. We hold Master degrees in speech-language pathology, state licensures and a national certification. To maintain licensure and certification we are required to participate in continuing education. Just like any other business owner, we charge what our time is worth based on various factors previously mentioned. Once you start working with us, you will come to understand the value of what we do and how we can help you and/or your child or family member.

Why don’t some SLP’s take insurance?

It’s really quite simple. If you have ever submitted anything to insurance then you know that you often have to battle the insurance company to process your claim and reimburse you. And at what rate? Often times, it’s a small percentage of the amount billed. SLPs just like any business owner, cannot afford to stay in business and run a private practice if they aren’t making what they are worth in an effort to cover expenses and pay their bills! It just wouldn’t be worth it.

Of course there are some SLP’s that do take insurance. But for me, that just was not and is not possible right now. I would have to hire a full-time assistant just to sit on the phone all day with insurance companies to fight for reimbursement. The salary and benefits for that person would put me out of business, even with a 6-figure practice.

While many SLPs have a heart of gold (I know quite a large community of SLPs and I know this to be true of those that I consult with) it is not fair to expect them to work for less than what their time is worth. This is true of ANY profession.

SLP’s wear many hats…

Just like any business owner, we wear many hats. Many of us are parents, daughters, sons, etc but that is not what I am referring to. I am referring to the administrative duties that come along with running a private practice. Often times we are the therapist, the billing department, the administrator, the supervisor, and more, in addition to of course being the owner of the practice. Yes, many of us hire other therapists to work with us and outside help for advertising, tax preparation and other consulting needs but we are responsible for the day-to-day operations of our business. This is even true when some of us have administrative assistants. For example, when I go into a session, I have to spend time preparing for each client as well as maintaining documentation for what we worked on, how the child performed and make reasonable suggestions as to what you can work on for the week outside of therapy. Sometimes materials are created that are individualized to the client. This takes time. And as in any profession, we deserve to be compensated for our time.

What we are NOT:

We are not teachers, tutoring on the side or graduate students looking to make some extra money. And this is in no way a hit to those that fit this description. The point is, we have gone through extensive schooling and training to receive our degree and gain the expertise needed to help you or your child communicate and/or eat. So while a tutor may charge anywhere from $20-75 an hour depending on where you live in the U.S., an SLP will charge anywhere from $75-150+ per session.

Should I ask my SLP for a discount?

You can always ask but chances are they are going to tell you they don’t offer discounts. Unless there is a TRUE hardship and you have the tax documents to prove your financial situation, SLP’s will most likely not offer a sliding scale for payment.

Can a graduate student work with us for a discounted rate?

If you live near a university that has a SLP program, call them. They may be able to get you into their clinic where you will be able to work with a graduate student. That said, the rate will depend on the clinic, and not all take insurance either. You cannot, however, work with a graduate student unless they are being supervised for your or your child’s sessions (in which case you are most likely still paying the supervisors rates).

For more questions on SLP services and fees comment below! We are happy to answer your questions.

With Love,
Hallie Bulkin