The speech-language pathologist is the professional who engages in clinical services, prevention, advocacy, education, administration, and research in the areas of communication and swallowing across the life span from infancy through geriatrics.
— The American Speech And Hearing Association (ASHA) (2007:1)
- Etymological root refers to sameness but often seen as what makes me unique – who I am.
- Medical model/social model.
- Narrative Practice – viewed as “public and social achievement”.
- Co-constructed in “the trafficking of stories about our own and each other’s lives” White (2007, 182).
The process of professional identity
- Individual process but co-constructed.
- Multiple identities.
- Fluid, dynamic.
- Therapeutic exchanges.
- Stories told and interpreted.
- Cultural Influences.
How are identities constructed?
O’Dwyer and Leahy (2015)
- Postmodernist thinking – multiple identities are available to an individual at any given time.
- Narratives play a large role in how we construct and re-construct these identities for ourselves and for others.
- Narratives are how we make sense of our experiences and this meaning-making in turn leads to a sense of identity. Bruner (1986: 143) explained that ‘narrative structures organise and give meaning to experience’. Riessman(2008: 8) states that ‘individuals and groups construct identities through storytelling’ and that these identities are fluid.
SLTs – multiple identities*
- An individual speech and language therapist has multiple identities available to them at any time.
- More aware of some than others and how conscious/aware they are of any identity at a given time varies.
- Intrapersonal and interpersonal factors influence how these identities are negotiated and renegotiated.
- These identities are negotiated in their interaction with the people they see for therapy and their families/carers.
- “Through clinical interaction clients and clinicians negotiate who they are and the roles they play in the therapy story.” Simmons-Mackie and Damico (2011:44)
- If a particular identity gets validated through these interactions, it takes hold and is performed regularly, If not validated, gets renegotiated.
*O’Dwyer, M. and Leahy, M.M. (2016). There is no cure for this: An exploration of the professional identities of speech and language therapists’, Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, 2, 149-167.