We recently sat down with Kirsty Mansfield, a Speech and Language Therapist with 12 years of experience in the NHS, specialising in deafness and working with deaf children for the past 8 years. We spoke to Kirsty on her journey training in the Auditory Verbal approach with Auditory Verbal UK’s (AVUK) foundation and advanced courses and qualifying as a certified Auditory Verbal Therapist 

Background and Initial introduction to Auditory Verbal therapy 

Kirsty's journey with Auditory Verbal (AV) therapy began in Autumn 2018 when her supervisor at the NHS service where she was working in South London introduced her to the Auditory Verbal approach. Starting with the foundation course, she aimed to understand its approach to developing spoken language through listening with deaf babies and children. Kirsty firmly believes in providing families with choices, and viewed AV therapy as a valuable tool in her professional toolkit and wanted to learn the approach to support families who want their deaf children to learn to listen and speak. 

Integrating Auditory Verbal therapy into Practice 

Kirsty spoke to us about how she integrates Auditory Verbal therapy into her daily practice, by employing a coaching approach with parents and families.  

Kirsty’s favourite aspect is “supporting and enabling parents to support their children to develop their language skills”. Kirsty described that the parents or caregivers usually come to their appointments looking for answers, and the partnership and involving parents and families to work together to reach goals is what makes this worthwhile.  

“It's nice that it’s an adaptable approach,” Kirsty expressed. She explained that wrapping the techniques around the family in a way that supports them and works for them, and their everyday lives is a great approach 

For Kirsty, the engagement process involves understanding individual circumstances to approach in a truly family centred way. For some families facing additional challenges, such as children with additional needs, Kirsty sits down for conversations to identify priorities and offer tailored support, ensuring that the coaching approach is relevant and effective for each family to support their deaf child in the best way possible. 

Balancing Professional Commitments 

Kirsty mentioned that although there is a “high workload in the NHS and a current shortage of Speech and Language Therapists, she was met with support to be able to balance her training. Kirsty felt supported by her team and managers, as they created opportunities to make sure that she was able to complete the training alongside her day-to-day work 

Kirsty also expressed a positive experience with the AVUK team and her tutor, Susie. The monthly sessions and continued communication with a diverse cohort of both Teachers of the Deaf and Speech and Language Therapists facilitated a supportive learning environment.  

She found value in the monthly tutorials, one-on-one catch ups, and the ability to revisit lectures. The structure, including podcasts and webinars, coupled with the flexibility to revise, worked well for Kirsty, especially considering her day-to-day workload. 

Valuable Insights and Professional Development 

Reflecting on the most valuable aspects of the AV therapy training courses, Kirsty emphasised that it’s hard to pick just one valuable thing – as it’s all very supportive and all the families with deaf children that she works with are making excellent progress developing their listening and spoken language skills and that is a great testament to the training. 

Kirsty also shared aspects of what she has learned with her NHS colleagues and team as well, which have been helpful for them. Kirsty is encouraging her team to learn more about AV therapy, and sharing practical tips and skills required to help even more families with deaf children within the local NHS trust. 

Improving outcomes for deaf children 

Kirsty also shared that many parents who don’t have any experience with deafness or don’t understand the diversity of deafness, they often come in anxious and now her team know there are various ways to support them - this is a valuable aspect of the training. AV therapy training is all about supporting professionals to ensure that they are getting better outcomes for families who want their child to use spoken language.  

Continued development 

Kirsty is still in touch with the other professionals who were in training at the same time as her due to the Continued Membership Programme (CMP) at AVUK. The CMP provides group sessions where Auditory Verbal Therapists can bring questions and discuss their cases. With the CMP, Kirsty continues to get rich insight into AV therapy and advice from other professionals.  
Kirsty shared that after qualification, it’s nice to know that there is continued support and people that you can check in with about AV therapy and how to best tailor it to the families you are supporting.  

Advice for Prospective AV therapy Trainees 

For those considering training in Auditory Verbal Therapy, Kirsty advises to go start with the foundation course as a first set to understanding what AV therapy is, including speech acoustics and checking understanding through listening. Kirsty advises immersing yourself in the journey, with the foundation course as your trusty stepping stone and continue the journey further by becoming a qualified Auditory Verbal Therapist through the advanced course.  

Reading up on the literature, engaging with current AV Therapists, and considering it as a long-term commitment will provide a comprehensive understanding. The foundation course serves not just as a learning experience but as a solid groundwork for more advanced stages of Auditory Verbal therapy. 

Celebrating Success 

We asked Kirsty how she celebrated post-certification - with a well-deserved takeaway!  
We look forward to keeping up with Kirsty and her journey as a Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist.  
Get in touch to start your journey now.