World Voice Day

Date: 14th July 2014

Posted on: 14-07-2014

This week our guest blogger is ASLTIP member, Heidi de Quincey, sharing her thoughts on her work in the week where we celebrate World Voice Day.


Tuesday April 16th was World Voice Day. Not a day my friends may have heard of until I inform them, but one important to me and some of my clients.


More than 50% of clients referred to me have either an identifiable pathology/something wrong with their larynx or are experiencing a voice which for some reason is not working smoothly. In therapy my task is to find out what is influencing the dis-ease and suggest a combination of life style changes; new muscle movements; laryngeal manipulation and re-education to effect a lasting change. I often think that when it comes to therapy, the proof is in the pudding- if the throat feels easier and the voice sounds ‘better’ then we are doing something right!


The relationship between the mechanics of phonation and the self expression of the speaker is fascinating. When I have a client whose voice has ‘gone’ – their terminology – I like to join with them as an interested informed professional in the search for their voice. We discover together why it’s ‘gone’, how to return it, if possible, and how to prevent it’s further loss. During this search I inform and teach at the pace of the client. Some may have no stomach for movies of vibrating vocal cords; some are as fascinated as I in the subtle working of such a useful valve.


There is no point in creating a voice which pleases the client or myself in the clinic if it can’t be used in awkward situations at home or work. It’s therefore important to explore where the voice will ‘perform’, where the challenges and pitfalls exist. Sometimes these are a new discovery to the client. Some degree of counselling is of course part of this therapy. I consider that sensitive skill as equal to the others that are used to encourage a relaxed yet efficient laryngeal action, and we voice therapists borrow from the world of singing, acting, psychology and gastroenterology to work at a healthy larynx.


I am sometimes told that working with the voice is a ‘specialist’ area of SLT, yet I feel that voice is the final pathway that we all embrace: from the neural planning of language, combining motor control with breath, and adding the sophistication of pace and intonation – it seems the essence of our profession. I’ve worked with the voice for over 20 years now and I still feel I’m learning to affect this subtle balance of muscle and breath.


Heidi de Quincey


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