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How can I see a speech therapist for free in BC?

The million dollar question!


In BC, you can access early intervention (0-kindergarten entry) with a registered speech-language pathologist at your local public health unit or child development center. Each health authority has their own network of public health units or centers that serve the community.



Two things every parent should know about accessing early intervention speech therapy services in BC:

1) You can self-refer! I needed to bold, italicized AND underline this because it is SO important! The wait times for seeing a physician may be long. There may be even more wait time if they do not agree that your child may benefit from speech therapy services. What you can do if you are concerned is self-refer! We always advocate for early assessment so self-refer if you have concerns.


Early referral never really hurts. The best case scenario is that there are no concerns and that's confirmed!


2) There is unfortunately, most likely, some sort of wait time. This will vary health unit by health unit and health authority by health authority. Sometimes the wait time is for an initial consultation, or an assessment, or even therapy afterwards. In this case, it never really hurts to refer. There's going to be wait time anyways. If you find that you're not concerned anymore, you can always just say "no" when the time comes to book an assessment.


How can I self-refer to see a speech therapist?

The short answer is Google your local health authority and speech therapy.


Fortunately, I've already Googled some local health authorities in BC for you! Take a look. :)


1) Vancouver Coastal Health

Vancouver - http://www.vch.ca/locations-services/result?res_id=505 North Shore -http://www.vch.ca/locations-services/result?res_id=509 Richmond - http://www.vch.ca/locations-services/result?res_id=502

2) Fraser Health

https://www.fraserhealth.ca/health-topics-a-to-z/pregnancy-and-baby/life-with-your-baby-0-6-months/speech-and-language-development-for-children#.Yh2uZejMJhE


3) Interior Health

https://www.interiorhealth.ca/services/speech-language-pathology-infant-child


4) Northern Health

https://www.northernhealth.ca/services/programs/speech-and-language-program


5) Island Health

https://www.islandhealth.ca/our-services/children-youth-rehabilitation-services/prevention-speech


Sometimes, families choose to refer themselves to child development centers instead. Families may make this decision if they feel like their child would also benefit from other therapies as well such as occupational or physiotherapy. Typically, the service you receive here is multidisciplinary so you can access other service providers as well. When in doubt, Google "your city + child development center".


These are some local child development centers:

Sometimes, families do decide to see a private speech-language pathologist instead due to wait times and frequency of service.


If you are looking for virtual speech therapy services in BC, feel free to get in touch with me! There are currently no wait times.