How do I get started with voice therapy?
May 23, 2023 10:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in pursuing voice therapy for the effects of GERD and other problems. What sort of specialist do I need, and how can I get therapy covered by insurance?

The problems I want to address are related to sound quality and volume. GERD is making them worse, but I wonder whether I have underlying physical issues or patterns of misuse. Should I look for an otolaryngologist? A Speech Language Pathologist with a music/theatre background? From what I can tell, not all SLPs work on voice, but the ones with a music background sometimes do. Where should I start? Will I need a referral? Is there anything I can do to maximize the chance my insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield) will cover therapy?
posted by Comet Bug to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have done voice therapy to help with the changes caused by a neurogenic chronic cough.

I was once accidentally sent to a speech pathologist, who wanted to work on GERD issues but did not know anything about voice therapy.

I'd recommend starting with an otolaryngologist and they can help direct you. A lot of it will depend on where you live, tbh, voice therapy is more easily acquired in areas near teaching hospitals. It's much more likely your insurance will cover voice or speech therapy and not any kind of vocal coaching.

They may have some other ideas for your voice or want to have an endoscopy done to assess your GERD damage. I have an uncommon kind of neurogenic cough and have been getting Botox injections every few months. They've done wonders to stabilize my voice, but I still have problems with my cough. I go to UVA for that treatment.
posted by mermaidcafe at 11:49 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

SLP here. Start with a visit to the ENT to assess any physical damage, and then get a referral to a speech language pathologist. We're all trained in basic voice treatment but it not everyone's specialty. If you came to me, for example, I'd definitely try to help you find someone else. If you live near a decent-sized hospital that does outpatient therapy they probably have someone on staff who can help. A university with a Communication Sciences & Disorders program could help too. But starting with an ENT to get an idea of what's going on physically is a good plan.
posted by christinetheslp at 3:43 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]

As a result of a (very, very, very successful!) surgery to remove a brain tumor, I have a paralyzed vocal cord.

My job recently has involved more talking, and this has started to impact my voice. I wanted to see somebody. For me, it looked like this:

1. Primary care physician referred me to ENT.
2. ENT doctor stuck a camera up my nose and down my throat and was like, "Yep, that's a paralyzed vocal cord." She called in an on-staff SLP to watch the procedure so they could discuss it while it was happening.
3. On-staff Speech-Language Pathologist then booked 8 appointments with me and we met every 2 weeks to work on different exercises, etc, etc.

Because it was the same practice as my ENT, it really wasn't a big deal. It billed to my insurance just like my other appointments at the ENT.

Good luck!
posted by kbanas at 5:48 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

@kabanas Very very very successful is wonderful! My friend has a paralyzed vocal cord as well, hers from a tumor. She gets hyaluronic acid injections. My ENT is one of 20 providers of a surgery to correct it.

Just some bonus info it case it helps anyone.
posted by mermaidcafe at 6:55 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]

Holy shit.
posted by kbanas at 7:14 AM on May 24

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