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Speech therapy

General overview

Speech therapy comes from the Greek ortho (correct) and phonè (voice). This word was coined in 1828, when Doctor Colombat created the Institut Orthophonique de paris for the "recovery of speech and in particular stuttering".


Speech therapy experienced a real boom thanks to Mrs Borel-Maisonny who extended the scope of the method to include the rehabilitation of language disorders. It also created training centres that issued the first certificates of speech and language therapy studies in 1955. The legal status of the profession of speech and language therapist was established by the law of 10 July 1964 creating the Certificate of Competence in Speech and Language Therapy. Today, the Certificate of Competence as a Speech-Language Pathologist (CCO) is prepared in 5 years in a Master's degree attached to a medical UFR, following a very selective competition.

Main objectives of the method

The main objective of speech-language pathology is to treat abnormalities of a pathological nature, voice, speech and oral or written language. The method thus makes it possible to prevent, evaluate and treat difficulties or disorders: 

  • Oral and written language and communication, 

  • Oro-myo-faial functions

  • Other cognitive activities, such as those related to phonation, speech, oral and written language, mathematical cognition. 

The method may also consist of 

  • Maintain communication and oral functions in degenerative and neurodegenerative diseases 

  • Provide training in other forms of non-verbal communication to complement or supplement verbal functions. 

Specificities of the method

Speech-language pathology is a profession of care that has the particularity of acting on and through language, and not only on language as a tool for communication and information, but also on language as a power of evocation. 

The psychological dimension can be an important element of language impairment and any intervention to address it.

Each speech therapy assessment is therefore strictly personal and often multidisciplinary and coordinated by a specialised doctor. 

Who is this method for ?

The method is intended for children with a disorder that disrupts language or oral or written communication.


  • In children aged 3 to 4 years there is an indication of speech and language therapy assessment in the absence of intelligible language for unfamiliar people, in the absence of grammatical structure or comprehension disorders.

  • In children aged 4 to 5 years, the speech and language therapy assessment may be indicated in the event of a delay in expression

  • For any child over 5 years of age, the speech and language therapy assessment is justified not only in the cases mentioned above, but also in the face of any language disorder of any kind (in particular phonological disorders that may hinder the learning of reading)

Scientific references

Oral language: current data and perspectives in speech and language therapy, Thierry Rousseau, 2010,


Speech and language therapy, the springboard of the past, the dynamism of the present, the development of the future, Françoise Estienne, Dominique Mrosomme, 2004,

Evaluation and rehabilitation of the voice: clinical and objective approach, Anne Ménin-Sicard, 2016,

To know more about the topic

The official website of the National Federation of Speech-Language Pathologists,


The official website of the National Federation of Speech-Language Pathologists of France (FOF),


The health passport sheet on speech therapy,


Specificities of early therapies with young children without language, Anne Lainé, Enfances et Psy 2009 / 1,


Study on the fields of intervention of speech and language therapists, the specificities

 and cooperation with other professions, National Observatory of the Demography of the Health Professions, 2011,


Speech and language therapy in specific disorders of oral language development in children aged 3 to 6 years, National Agency for Accreditation and Health Assessment, May 2001,


The follow-up in speech therapy of a young child in an erééducation service for the rehabilitation of neurological pathologies acquired from the child, Pauline Steck-Bajon, Contrast, 2014,


Legislative texts


The definition of speech-language pathology was published in the law in January 2016: Article L4341-1 of the Public Health Code is amended by Law n°2016-41 of 26 January 2016 - art. 126.

Decree 2002-721 of 2 May 2002 on professional acts and the practice of the speech and language therapy profession

Any remarks or comments ?

This work is based on a collaborative approach to sharing research and family experience.

If you have any comments, suggestions for modifications or corrections or clarifications to make, please let us know by email at

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