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5 Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Speech Therapy in Schools and Private Practice

A woman with two thought bubbles with the words private practice in one and schools in the other.

When it comes to speech therapy, one size does not fit all. Understanding the differences between school-based therapy and private practice can help you make an informed decision about the best path for your child. Let’s explore the key aspects of each setting.

1.) Access and Eligibility

Schools: School services provide a child with speech-language therapy services as part of the public education system, meaning they’re available at no direct cost to families. However a child must qualify for services by meeting the school’s criteria for a speech or language disorder and that it directly affects a child's educational performance.

Private Practice: Available to anyone, regardless of whether their condition impacts their academic achievement. Costs are typically covered by insurance or out-of-pocket payments, offering more flexibility in accessing services.

2.) Focus of Therapy

Schools: The primary goal of school-based speech therapy services is to ensure a child’s speech or language challenges do not hinder their academic success. Therapy is often integrated into the educational context, focusing on skills that facilitate learning and classroom participation.

Private Practice: Therapists can address a broader range of concerns, not limited to educational impact. This includes social communication, mild articulation errors, voice and swallowing disorders, and early intervention, tailored to the child's unique needs.

3.) Environment and Resources

Schools: Therapy is conducted within the school environment, during or around school hours, which can be convenient for families. However, resources and session frequencies might be limited due to caseloads , staffing, and school budgets.

Private Practice: Offers a more controlled environment, potentially with access to a wider range of therapeutic tools and technologies. Therapy can take place in an office, in-home, in-rehab, etc. Scheduling is more flexible, with the possibility of more frequent or intensive sessions.

4.) Parental Involvement

Schools: Parents are an integral part of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and are involved in the process of creating a speech therapy intervention plan. Limitations of parental involvement include participating in speech therapy sessions and communication between parents and therapists may vary based on school policies.

Private Practice: Often encourages active parental participation, offering more opportunities for parents to observe sessions, receive training, and engage in their child’s therapy process directly.

5.) Collaboration with Other Professionals

Schools: Therapists work closely with teachers, special education professionals, and other school staff, facilitating a multidisciplinary approach to support the child’s overall educational experience.

Private Practice: While also capable of a multidisciplinary approach, collaboration requires more coordination as therapists might need to communicate with school personnel, pediatricians, and other involved professionals separately.


Choosing between school-based speech therapy and private practice depends on various factors, including your child’s specific needs, the severity of their speech or language challenges, and what you envision as the most supportive environment for their growth. Some families find a combination of both settings works best, maximizing the benefits each has to offer.

Remember, the goal is to support your child’s communication skills in a way that enhances their confidence, effectiveness, and joy in connecting with the world around them. Whatever path you choose, the right support can make all the difference in your child’s development and daily life.

Your Partners in Navigating Speech and Language Success,

Compass Communication Group

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