The Speech Pathologist is In
Words from Jen Walentas Lewon, MS, CCC-SLP
As a speech pathologist in the United States, I work with clients with voice impairments due to physical, neurological or functional voice disorders.
When I first learned about Beth and Chelsea’s program to support young women in using their empowered voices, I realized that some of the techniques we use with clients with voice disorders may be effective in supporting these young women. Certainly, these young women do not have voice disorders, yet they may be limited in their ability to use their voice in family, educational, vocational or community situations.
To support young women in using an empowered voice, we examined empirical evidence on vocal training techniques to support and improve voice. We focused on techniques to improve breathing, resonance, phonation, and effort that had direct effects on the (hyperlink) 10 Characteristics of an Empowered Voice. Vocal training techniques were integrated into group building exercises and activities to practice using the voice for self and community advocacy.
In my client sessions, I try to regularly use personally-salient vocabulary and activities to encourage generalization of the target skills from the treatment room into the client’s community and daily life. The 12-week Vocal Empowerment program culminates in a final performance for participants to share their voices with their own communities. This performance encourages young women to generalize their empowered voice and also includes the community to encourage and applaud women in using their voices.