News • December 08, 2022

Speech-language pathology students connect with clients

Speech-language pathology students connect with clients Riverside, Calif. (Dec. 8, 2022) – In pursuing a master’s in speech-language pathology, Annalyese Fausel, a student at California Baptist University, learned how to assess clients, develop a treatment plan and counsel families.

She also learned a lot about the Beatles this fall. One of her clients, Mike Morales, is a fan of the band, so she fills their sessions with Beatles trivia to engage him. She finds photos of the band and asks him questions. They listen to music videos and he sings along.

“It was really cool because I tapped into an area he really enjoys. It’s an easy motivator for him because it's like he's teaching me,” Fausel said.

Morales has aphasia, a language disorder that affects a person's ability to communicate, after having a stroke in 2014.

“I’ve learned how to have patience. He has so much to say; he has had such a wonderful life,” Fausel said. “When you work with people who have aphasia, there are a lot of awkward silences because they're thinking things over. They're trying to come up with their sentence.”

Along with talking about the Beatles, Fausel helps Morales work on spontaneous speech. Morales, who started painting and drawing after his stroke, often goes to art expos, but he is nervous about talking with new people.

“If they don't know what aphasia is, they don't really give him the time to come up with the answer and sometimes they don't understand what he says,” Fausel said. “I came up with a script for him. The biggest questions that he was asked, he has an answer to and we practice those.”

They practiced the script for a month. Early in November at an art show, he made an effort to talk to all the people who came up to him, Fausel said.

“I am just so proud that Mike gained the confidence to start speaking to people and saw that his own words matter,” Fausel said.

Making a connection

Fausel said she tries to find ways to connect with each of her clients and uses their interests in therapy.

“I think it's helpful because they then start to trust you more and they are enjoying themselves and they want to come to session versus it just being this drill of me trying to get something out of them and it doesn't roll over into everyday society,” Fausel said.

Making a connection is important, said Dr. Danette Bonillo, director of clinical education. With each new client, the student clinician finds out what they are interested in and their background. That helps in creating conversation and knowing questions to ask to prompt dialogue, she said.

Bonillo also matches clinicians and clients. For instance, Fausel understands sarcasm and Morales has a sense of humor.

“Annalyese’s passion to provide services is strong and sometimes it’s hard to rotate to another practicum site,” Bonillo said. “And that's what we want student clinicians to feel. That passion that leads to a sense of sadness when you're done at your practicum site because you want to spend more time with your clients.”

The student clinicians have clients for one semester. At the end, they write up a progress report to pass on and will collaborate with the next student clinician.

“It's a nice smooth transition,” Bonillo said. “People have said how much they enjoy being able to go from different clinicians every semester because it's important to be able to adjust to new people.”

Telepractice continues

Morales and his wife, Royce, connected with Dr. Candace Vickers, founding director of CBU’s graduate program, about seven years ago and Morales has received speech therapy from CBU since.

The students and supervisors “exude true caring. They're all just incredible,” Royce said.

The couple live in Rimforest, California. His twice weekly sessions with Fausel are online. The clinician and client finally met in person in October. Morales received an award from Able Arts Work, an organization in Long Beach, California, for his art. Fausel and a fellow student went to the awards event to meet Morales and celebrate his achievement.

“It was heartwarming,” Fausel said. “I felt like, in a lot of ways, it solidifies to our patients that they're not just a person on our checklist, but they're a human being we want to help cultivate a relationship with. We want the best for them. We want to see them succeed, whether it's with speech but also with other things that they really like to do.”

Before COVID, students had never done telepractice. When everything shut down, the graduate program taught students how to use technology to conduct virtual speech therapy sessions in telepractice, Bonillo said. Those skills are still being taught.

While sessions are back in person, some clients are choosing the telepractice option. For adults who have limited mobility, telepractice eliminates an exhausting drive, Bonillo said. Also, therapists have more opportunity to talk with family members about strategies.

Telepractice works better for Morales, his wife said.

“It's so much easier. He was always so exhausted after driving four hours a day,” Royce said. “He's so much happier doing it this way.”

Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504