How can I see a speech therapist for free in Vancouver and beyond?
Have you been Googling "speech therapist Vancouver" or "speech therapy Vancouver" in hopes of finding publicly funded speech therapy services? If so, you're in the right place!
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.
Accessing public health speech therapy services can be challenging if you do not know where to go, read through to learn more about accessing free speech therapy services in BC.
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.
If you are wondering whether your child is meeting their language milestones, you can grab my free language milestones guide for children 0-5. As long as children are not meeting their developmental milestones, a referral to a speech-language pathologist is always warranted. It is also warranted if YOU ARE CONCERNED.
How can I self-refer to see a speech therapist in Vancouver or other parts of BC?
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 - Provides public speech therapy services in Vancouver, North Shore (North Vancouver and West Vancouver, Bowen Island, etc.), Richmond, and in upper regions like Squamish and Whistler.
2) Fraser Health - Provides speech therapy in Burnaby, Coquitlam, Surrey, North Delta, New Westminster, Abbotsford, and so on.
You can learn more about general public health services that the Fraser Health Units provide here.
3) Interior Health
4) Northern Health
5) Island Health
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". For example, "Vancouver child development center".
These are some local child development centers in the Lower Mainland:
BC Centre for Ability: https://bc-cfa.org/programs/early-intervention/
The Centre for Child Development: https://the-centre.org/
The great thing about child development centers are that they are a one-stop shop! They provide many other services including some of the following:
- Supported Child Development Programs
- Infant Development Program
- Social Workers
- Occupational Therapy
- Key Workers
- Support Workers
- Inclusive Preschools
You can learn more about early childhood intervention programs in British Columbia by clicking the link.
What do I do once my child is referred for public speech therapy services?
The unfortunate answer is wait. Depending on where you are located, there is most likely wait time for consultation, assessment and treatment. Sometimes, family think that they are attending an assessment session or therapy session, but sometimes you may start with a consultation session (e.g., a public speech therapist will provide a general summary of your child's communication strengths and weaknesses, but diagnostic statements are typically not made). Sometimes, you do start with an assessment session! This may be a complete speech-language assessment depending on your child's needs.
Every public health unit provides speech therapy services differently in BC. You should always ask what type of service you will be receiving and what wait times look like at the get go so that you are prepared.
I wanted to find private speech therapy in Vancouver near me!
You have come to the right place. We provide private speech-language assessments, consultation, and therapy services to children in Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond. We also provide virtual speech therapy services to ANYONE in BC! If you live in a remote region in BC, we can support you to meet your child's communication needs.
If you are looking for funding to support speech therapy services, you can find our guide here.
If you are unsure if you child may benefit from speech therapy, please grab our free language milestones guide!
Finding a private Vancouver speech therapist can be easy. If you feel like you are ready to start speech therapy, book a free phone consultation to learn more! We provide language services, early intervention therapy, speech sound therapy, assess children's language development abilities, support children with social communication challenges...the list goes on. We currently have no waitlist for speech therapy. Get in touch today.