About The Book

In Professional Communication in Speech-Language Pathology: How to Write, Talk, and Act Like a Clinician, Fourth Edition, the authors introduce student clinicians to the various types of written and verbal communication they will encounter across three different clinical settings: university clinics, medical settings, and public schools. The text is written in a student-friendly manner, with appendices that provide examples of diagnostic and treatment reports, data sheets, and important acronyms in medical and school settings. Chapters cover verbal interactions with families, allied professionals, and supervisors, as well as written and verbal communication across the university, medical, and school settings. Also included are scenarios written in the form of vignettes that address issues of ethics, interviewing, and procedures for managing protected health information.

New to the Fourth Edition

  • New pedagogical features (chapter learning outcomes and reflection questions).
  • References and content updated throughout to reflect the current state of research and evidence-based practice.
  • Updated information regarding current requirements and policies for written documentation.
  • Expanded information regarding HIPAA and the ASHA Code of Ethics.
  • Expanded content regarding interacting with supervisors and generational differences.
  • Material on methods for improving writing and editing.
  • Numerous additional examples to further clarify the content and portions reorganized for greater flow of information.
  • Content has been edited to be more concise and reader friendly.
  • A PluralPlus companion website which includes PowerPoint lecture slides, reflection questions, and active learning activities.

About The Authors

A. Embry Burrus, MCD, CCC-SLP, is a licensed speech-language pathologist and was an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders at Auburn University for 14 years. Her areas of interest include children with developmental delay, children and adults who stutter, and supervision. She is also the author of a memoir about her family, The Life We Choose: A Sibling’s Story (Solomon & George Publishers, 2017) and is currently a full-time caregiver for her older sister with Down syndrome. 

Laura B. Willis, MCD, CCC-SLP, is a Clinical Professor at Auburn University and certified Speech-Language Pathologist. She enjoys working alongside graduate students in the university clinic to provide high-quality services to clients of all ages and their families. Mrs. Willis also teaches an undergraduate course introducing students to Speech-Language Pathology clinic, clinical writing, and service provision. Prior to joining the Auburn University faculty, she worked at the Roosevelt Institute for Rehabilitation in Warm Springs, Georgia. She has presented numerous local, regional, and national presentations and she has been published in national journals.  

Table oF Contents



Section I. Introduction to Professional Communication, Clinical Practicum Sites, and Ethics

Chapter 1. The Nature of Professionalism and Professional Communication

Learning Outcomes


Professional Written Communication

Professional Verbal Communication

Shared Components of Professional Written and Verbal Communication

Reflection Questions

Chapter 2. Learning as They Change Rules: The Many Faces of Clinical Practicum

Learning Outcomes


Interacting with Supervisors Across Settings

Clinical Settings

            University Setting

            Medical Setting

            School Setting

Reflection Questions


Chapter 3. Ethics, Confidentiality, and Safeguarding Clinical Communications

Learning Outcomes

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

American Speech-Language-Hearing (ASHA) Code of Ethics

The University Speech and Hearing Clinic

Treatment Plans and Progress Notes

Formal Treatment Reports

Formal Diagnostic Report

Test Forms

Information on Flash Drives Used by Students

Electronic Transmissions

Authorization Forms

Therapy Schedules

Verbal Discussions

Audio/Video Recordings

The Medical Setting

The School Setting

Reflection Questions


Section II. Professional Written Communication


Chapter 4. Documentation and Technical Writing

Learning Outcomes

The Basics of Writing

Tone and Language

Common Errors

Remember Your Audience


Reflection Questions

Chapter 5. Diagnostic Reports

Learning Outcomes

The Organizational Framework of a Diagnostic Report

The University Setting

The Medical Setting

The School Setting

Reflection Questions

Chapter 6. Treatment Documentation

Learning Outcomes

What Are Long-Term and Short-Term Goals?

Definition of a Goal

The Importance of Rationales

Data Is Critical

The University Setting

The Integration of Long-Term Goals (LTGs), Short Term Goals (STGs), and Rationales

The Medical Setting

            The Rehabilitation Setting

            The Hospital Setting

            Long-Term Care/Skilled Nursing Facility

The School Setting

            Individualized Education Program (IEP)

            Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP)

            How Is the IFSP Different From the IEP?

            How Does the IEP Reflect Specific Goals?

Similarities and Differences in Goal Writing across Settings

Reflection Questions

Chapter 7. Short-Term Progress Reports

Learning Outcomes

Progress Reports

The University Setting

     Example 1: Aphasia Client

     Example 2: Child Langauge Client

     Example 3: Child Articulation Client

     Example 4: Fluency Client

The Medical Setting

The School Setting

Reflection Questions

Chapter 8. Long-Term Progress Reports

Learning Outcomes

Progress Reports

The University Setting

The Medical Setting

     The Rehabilitation Setting

     The Hospital Setting

     Long-Term Care/Skilled Nursing Facility

The School Setting

Reflection Questions


Chapter 9. Professional Correspondence

Learning Outcomes


Phone Correspondence

Reflection Questions

Section III. Professional Verbal Communication

Chapter 10. Interacting with Clients and Families

Learning Outcomes

Selected Critical Elements of Professional Verbal Communication

Show Respect


Use Professional Tone

Listen and Understand

Attent To Context

Modify Based On Feedback

The Value of Experience

Contexts of Verbal Communication with Clients and Families

Informational Counseling

Three Important Issues Common to All Diagnostic Interviews

Diagnostic Interviews with Parents

Diagnostic Interviews with Adult Clients and Their Family Members

Methods of Maximizing Retention

Conducting Training Sessions for Developing a Home Treatment Program

DIscussing Treatment Progress with Clients and Families

Counseling Clients and Families About Treatment Issues

Personal Adjustment Counseling

Reflection Questions

Chapter 11. Interacting with Other Professionals

Learning Outcomes

Contexts of Verbal Communication with Other Professionals


Staffings and Meetings

Collaboration (Push In and Pull Out)

Solving Problems in Informal Daily Interactions

Making Mistakes

Misunderstandings and Miscommunications

Reflection Questions

Chapter 12. Interacting with Individuals from Diverse Backgrounds

Learning Outcomes


Cultural Competence and the SLP

The Therapeutic Cycle

Reflection Questions

Chapter 13. Interacting with Supervisors

Learning Outcomes

The Evolution of the Student and Supervisor Relationship Through the Practicum Experience

The Supervisory Relationship

     Goals of Supervisors and Students

Critical Differences Between Supervisors and Students

Remember the Principles of Professional Verbal Communication

Communication Issues You May or May Not Encounter

Mistaks Students Make

Generational Differences

     Millennials and Technology

     Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Z

Reflection Questions



Appendix A. Samples of University Clinic Diagnostic Report for a Child Client

Appendix B. Sample of University Clinic Diagnostic Report for an Adult Client

Appendix C. Sample of Inpatient Rehab Assessment Report for Speech/Language/Swallowing

Appendix D. Examples of a University Clinic Daily Treatment Plan

Appendix E. List of Selected Abbreviations Used in School Settings

Appendix F. List of Selected Abbreviations Used in Medical Settings

Appendix G. Examples of a University Clinic Long-Term Treatment Report

Appendix H. Examples of Data Sheets

Appendix I. Examples of Progress Notes in the SOAP format

Appendix J. Examples of Long-Term Graphs




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