What is Voice Therapy?

In voice therapy, you will learn how to use your voice in the most efficient and healthy way possible. The therapy program is tailored to address your unique needs with the overarching goal of reducing/resolving vocal complaints and preventing vocal injury. This is achieved through incorporation of voice therapy techniques, increased body awareness to identify and reduce areas of tension impacting your voice, and optimization of vocal hygiene.

Voice therapy can help to resolve or stabilize the size of certain types of vocal fold lesions, thus reducing the need for surgery. Your vocal folds don’t have to look “perfect” for them to still do everything you want of them.  

Our voice-specialized speech-language pathologists (voice pathologists) at the Center for Voice and Swallowing Disorders, recognize that everyone’s voice and vocal needs are unique. The voice transmits emotion, our thoughts, and allows us to connect with others through song. Thus changes in the sound, range, volume, or ease of voicing, however slight it might appear to others, can have a profound impact on our sense of self. We see you as an individual and create personalized treatment plans to best fit your needs.

Techniques Used

Vocal exercises: These exercises help patients connect the breath to the voice, optimize vocal fold vibration, and improve resonance. Techniques include: resonant voicing, diaphragmatic/low abdominal breathing, unloading (releasing tension in the throat), semi-occluded vocal tract exercises, phonation resistance training exercises (PhoRTE), vocal function exercises (VFEs), conversation training therapy (CTT), vocalises, and straw phonation.

Dr. Morris with patient, checking her throat.

Body awareness/reducing areas of tension impacting phonation: Manual therapy can involve circumlaryngeal massage (massage techniques for the muscles surrounding the voice box), and/or a variety of stretches or postural adjustments to help you achieve a relaxed and healthy voice. 

Laryngeal hygiene: Your voice can only be at its best when your throat is as healthy as possible. We identify environmental and behavioral factors that may be contributing to your voice problems, such as hydration, medications, chronic throat clearing/coughing, patterns of voice use (volume/duration), reflux and allergies. If your job requires extended periods of loud voice use, we can offer strategies to reduce your vocal load and reduce your risk for injury.

Kathryn Ruckart with patient.

How long would I need to attend voice therapy?

People with voice disorders are usually scheduled for voice therapy on a weekly basis to establish the behavioral changes needed to correct the voice problem (these can be spaced farther out if necessary). Our voice pathologists have a high success rate of treating most voice conditions in three to six sessions.

Specialty Voice Therapy Services

Professional Voice Services

Amy Morris at piano with patient.Professional voice users have unique vocal needs and as such, require specialized voice services that can only be provided by a multidisciplinary voice center. Some careers depend on the consistency of vocal production and the ability to routinely perform highly technical vocal tasks, be it from the stage, pulpit, boardroom, or classroom. Changes in the singing voice, even if it doesn’t impact the speaking voice, can have a profound impact on quality of life. The importance of every voice is the same, regardless as to whether the outlet is singing in the church choir, in the car, to children, or to thousands of people.

We offer same day in-office consultations to address vocal performance concerns, along with emergency vocal rehabilitation. This can include work with a singing voice rehabilitation specialist, a voice pathologist with a masters in vocal performance and pedagogy. She works with the laryngologist to differentiate between complaints due to a voice disorder, unconscious compensatory techniques, or ones that can be part of the typically developing singing voice. 

We are committed to vocal health, partnering with local colleges and universities to educate young performers (actors and singers of all genres) on ways to keep their instruments healthy. If you would like to schedule a vocal health workshop, please e-mail amy.k.morris@wakehealth.edu. 

Gender-Affirming Voice Services

Our voice pathologists offer gender-affirming voice therapy to help individuals across the gender spectrum achieve their voice and communication goals. If you are experiencing voice complaints that prevent you from communicating in a manner that does not align with your gender identity, we offer a safe and welcoming space to address these concerns. After a comprehensive evaluation with one of our specialists, you will participate in an individualized voice therapy program with your unique communication needs at the center of our focus. You and your voice pathologist will work hand in hand in safely developing a vocal system that reliably and authentically represents your identity.

Gender Affirming Voice Care