Meet Lauren Alley, Speech Pathologist in our Youth and Family Team at Monash Health Community.
What is your role at Monash Health and what does it entail?
My official title is a Speech Pathologist within the Youth and Family team, however I find it easiest to explain my role to my clients by using the term ‘Communication Specialist/ Therapist’. I choose to use this term as I’ve found that many young people associate ‘Speech Pathologists’ with young children.
In my role as a ‘Communication Specialist’, I assist my clients -often adolescents with social and emotional and/or behavioural difficulties, including mental illness- to develop their communicative confidence in the areas that are most impactful for them.
This may entail assisting a client to find the correct words to confidently express themselves and negotiate their communicative exchanges with their peers and family members (expressive language), or conversely, understand, interpret and appropriately respond to these communicative exchanges (receptive language).
For some clients it’s simply being able to make a phone call without stuttering. Whatever the goal may be, my role is to assist a young person to feel confident and properly equipped to engage in their social surroundings.
What has your journey been like at Monash Health?
I have been in this role for 14 months now, working as a Speech Pathologist for the Youth and Family team three days a week, and with the Child and Family Team two days a week. I am incredibly grateful to work across both teams, as it’s allowed me the opportunity to see Speech Pathology implemented across the continuum of care, from early intervention to early adulthood.
This experience has given me a greater appreciation of the impact developmental trauma can have on a child’s social and emotional development, and subsequently their communicative behaviours in early adulthood, as well as a better understanding of a client and family’s journey of care through the health system.
What motivated you to join the Monash Health Community Youth Team?
Prior to applying for this role, I had spent some time volunteering at community run youth mentoring programs and camps, designed specifically for young people who had been affected by trauma and/or abuse.
This experience opened my eyes to the great need for further advocacy, partnership and genuine care for this vulnerable population. When the position at the Monash Youth and Family Team became available, I was excited by an opportunity to combine my love of Speech Pathology with my passion for seeing young people equipped to regain their sense of self and purpose.
What are the main challenges facing young people in our community?
A fractured sense of identity and belonging I believe are the main challenges facing our young people today. Whether this has been born from a traumatic event or series of events in childhood, or from simply trying to navigate genuine connectedness in a society driven by online profiles and personas, I believe the question of ‘who am I?’ has become increasingly difficult for many young people to answer.
As a result, we see young people with a distorted self-concept and poor self-esteem, increased anxiety and depression, and at times, an unhealthy pursuit of anything that may afford them this lost sense of identify and belonging. And for some of my clients this includes avoiding society and social exchanges altogether.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
It’s a joy to be able to assist my clients to challenge their negative self-concepts, specifically in the area of their communicative competence. To see a client achieve a communication goal they previously believed was out of reach, such as making a phone call without stuttering, and to subsequently see their perception of themselves and what they are capable of gradually change, is incredibly rewarding. Seeing a young person grow is the best part of my job.
Tell us more about the Monash Youth and Family Team.
The Monash Health Youth and Family Team consists of a team of multidisciplinary clinicians including Exercise Physiologists, Sexual Health Nurses, a Dietitian, Music Therapist, Social Worker and Psychologist, who are all passionate about improving the health outcomes of young people in our community.
Our team operates out of the ‘Youth Health Hub’ at the Monash Health Community site in Dandenong, with programs running each Tuesday and Thursday, during both school and after school hours. Young people who attend our program have the opportunity to engage in both individual and group programs with our clinicians, while also receiving assistance to access other community and health services.
Our Youth Team also conducts outreach health programs and secondary consults to schools and youth services in the local community, to promote health education and literacy among young people, as well as strength the therapeutic relationship between Monash Health and our wider community.
If you weren’t working in your current role what would you be doing?
I love travelling and experiencing new cultures, so if I weren’t working as a Speech Pathologist with Monash I’d love the opportunity to complete an internship in a rural community overseas.
What is something that your team doesn’t know about you?
While traveling through South America in 2017 with my sister, I spent three days sleeping in the Amazon Jungle where I spotted an anaconda in a watering hole I was about to swim in!