What is Voice Therapy?
The goal of voice therapy is to improve or completely eliminate challenges related to the production of vocal sounds (also known as phonation) in the larynx or voice box. Once therapy has been completed, the voice should sound strong and free of any hoarseness. Voice therapy can also be used as a preventive measure, aiming to strengthen and train the voice so as to avoid any such problems completely. Voice therapy can include a variety of customized techniques and exercises that are provided by an experienced and knowledgeable speech therapist.
Voice therapy can be incredibly helpful when treating most types of voice disorders. A voice disorder is defined as a continuous change in one’s speaking or singing voice. In many cases of a voice disorder, the voice often becomes hoarse, but in other cases, it may also be husky, strained, or completely without sound. The voice also becomes weaker and less powerful, resulting in difficulties keeping in key or reaching very high or low notes when singing. You can learn more about voice therapy and how it works by scheduling your free introductory call today!
What Kind of Voice Disorders are There?
There is a wide variety of things that can cause a voice disorder. There are three main types of voice disorders:
Functional Voice Disorders: A functional voice disorder can result from loud and frequent speaking. In some cases, a functional voice disorder is caused by the use of too much force or tension in the voice when speaking. Sometimes this is the result of stress, emotional upset, or the development of an abnormal breathing pattern or technique. For others, a functional voice disorder is a result of speaking in a register that isn’t right for them.
Organic Voice Disorders: Organic voice disorders are the result of changes that affect the voice box (or larynx.) Physical changes (such as vocal nodules) may also result from a functional voice disorder. Sometimes the vocal cords become paralyzed as a result of surgery (thyroid surgery, for example), and this is another often seen organic voice disorder. Other causes of organic voice disorders are inflammation, smoking, stroke, traumatic brain injury, or laryngeal (larynx) cancer.
Psychogenic Voice Disorders: in these cases, the voice becomes hoarse, cracked, or completely soundless after an upsetting or distressing event, chronic stress, or as a result of a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety.
Learn more about different voice disorders and how they are treated by scheduling your free introductory call today!
What are Voice Therapy Techniques? How Long Does it Take for Voice Therapy to Work?
Voice therapy appointments normally occur once or twice a week over the course of a few months; with each session usually lasting 30 minutes.
Voice Therapy appointments typically include some (or all) of the following exercises and techniques:
Breathing Exercises: The speech therapist will help you practice engaging the diaphragm properly when breathing, as well as learning to improve the coordination between your breathing patterns and speech.
Relaxation Exercises to Reduce Tension: Often a voice disorder can be improved simply by focusing on relaxation and calmness. Meditation and breathing exercises can be highly beneficial.
Movement or Posture Exercises: In some cases, voice disorders can be improved by focusing on the person’s posture. When posture is correct, the chest is open and full of space, making breathing, speaking, and singing easier.
Exercises for the Mouth and Jaw Muscles: Intentional stretching and movement of the mouth and jaw can do wonders for strengthening the voice. Exercises such as using chewing movements or forced yawning and sighing are simple and effective.
For those who struggle to speak in the right register, an SLP can help them practice speaking in a better, more appropriate register.
How Does Voice Therapy Work?
There are many different kinds of approaches to therapy and exercises when treating a voice disorder, and no two treatment plans are the same. Certain exercises will be suitable for some people, depending on the individual and the underlying cause of the voice disorder: If anxiety or fear plays a significant role, that must also be taken into consideration when determining the best treatment plan. In some cases like this, it may be a good idea to consider having psychological treatment as well to help eliminate or reduce the anxiety.
Can I Do Voice Therapy at Home?
If you are undergoing voice therapy, practicing at home is very important to help you meet your goals. Even once voice therapy is completed, making the exercises provided by your therapist a part of your daily routine is a good idea.
You should also be very careful not to overuse your voice in your everyday life. Try not to raise your voice to compete with background noise or to speak over people. Instead, try to find a quieter place or save the conversation for another time. Whispering as a means to “save” your voice is also not a good idea as whispering actually puts a fair amount of stress on your vocal cords. In general, if you want to take it easy on your voice the best thing to do is to try to speak as little as possible and provide your voice with many opportunities to rest.
All of these things are easy and simple enough and will help to keep your voice strong and healthy. These practices are typically referred to as “vocal hygiene.” You can learn more about voice therapy and how it works by scheduling your free introductory call today!