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Traveling the World as a Speech Therapist

“In every new place [I travel] and with every new community, I am firstly a stranger who needs to observe the way of living and communicating. I have to learn how to adapt myself, in the same way as the deaf woman in my childhood memory…”

Tiphaine de Torcy, Speech Therapist
Vietnam

The word “orthophonie” (speech therapy) first appeared in France in 1928. Mrs. Suzanne Borel-Maisonny created the 1st speech rehabilitation in France. Over time, it evolved and was recognised as a real profession in 1964.

A Meeting Between Two People

I work with children, teenagers, adults, and aged people. So far, my youngest patient has been a 3 year old little girl; my oldest patient, a 95 year old woman.

For every new assessment or rehabilitation, I always take the time to learn about the person in front of me:

  • How is their family life?
  • How are things at school or work?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • Do they want to work with me – why and how?

I show them who I am, I explain the way I work, and we talk about it.

The relationship is the basis of rehabilitation and is essential because without a strong degree of trust between the patient and their speech therapist, rehabilitation may not be successful.

Languages, Cultures, and Communities

When I was around eight years old, I met a deaf young woman. She taught me the sign language alphabet and showed me how we could communicate. I was fascinated by her and her abilities to adapt her language and communication skills to suit all situations.

I love traveling and living new adventures. I enjoy working within my profession in different cultures, communities, countries, and, if possible, in varied languages.

My first professional experience was two years in private practice in Martinique. The majority of my patients came from low income families. Collaboration with schools and families—to discuss the difficulties experienced by the children—was an important part of my work and I really enjoyed it. There, I also completed training in therapy for people with autism.

After this, I worked in France for three years—in two private practices and two specialised establishments for deaf people. I learned alternative communications such as sign language and cued speech, and I learned methods to improve language and learning skills.

Now, I have been living in Asia for one and a half years. Actually, I am discovering how different health care is between Europe and Asia! Here, I have needed to become more business-minded, which is not really my cup of tea!

I try hard to maintain my individual style of working—focusing my priorities on communication and human relationships.

In China, I practiced in a French establishment where I provided therapy for French or Franco-Chinese children and adults. I continued to place importance on collaboration with families and the school team. For this reason, I created a discussion-group with parents where we discussed language disorders, solutions for children and other concerns that the parents may raise.

Today, I work in Vietnam in an international Medical Practice, using French and in English for children from varied cultures and communities. My current challenge is to work with children who grow up in a multilingual context.

In every new place and with every new community, I am firstly a stranger who needs to observe the way of living and communicating. I have to learn how to adapt myself, in the same way as the deaf woman in my childhood memory, and it is a fascinating challenge.