Our Story
Communicating from the Heart
Evelyn Chen
Speech-Language Therapist, NULL
Published on 10/07/19
Meet Evelyn Chen, a speech-language therapist who enables people with communication and/or swallowing difficulties to communicate to the best of their ability. This is her story. 

What sparked your interest in social service?

While in university, I volunteered with adults with varying disabilities. I realised how their communication difficulties affected their relationships with others and consequently, their quality of life. I became inspired to help people communicate better and working in social service offers me the best opportunity to do so.
Why did you choose your specialisation? What are your roles and responsibilities?

Communication is a crucial aspect of our lives that we often take for granted. I realised how frustrating it can be for children facing communication difficulties to understand their world and express themselves. I saw meaning in being the bridge of communication for them. I am a Speech-Language Therapist at a social service organisation where I assess communicative difficulties and provide therapy based on individual needs. 

What are some challenges you face at work? How do you overcome them?

My main challenge is getting various stakeholders involved. Most people may see therapy as the sole responsibility of the therapist, but it is most effective when stakeholders, such as parents and teachers, also work on common goals for the child. I often share with stakeholders the importance of a collaborative and supportive working relationship, and keep in regular contact with them throughout the therapy process.  

What are some memorable experiences in your career?

I worked with a client with autism whose mother needed support in understanding her child’s challenging behaviourial traits. I helped her realise that her child was probably demonstrating these traits to communicate a need or frustration, and not because of bad behaviour. After sharing with her on how to communicate with her child at a level that he understood better, she was able to connect with her child better and saw an improvement in the way he expressed himself.

What is one myth that you would like to dispel about the social service profession?

The perception is that the social service sector is an unexciting one with limited opportunities for development. On the contrary, it is growing at a fast pace, with attractive remuneration, and opportunities for career development. As more attention is placed on the sector, and as it gears up to serve the increasing needs of our society, we can only look forward to exciting times ahead. 

How has the social service scholarship benefitted you?

The social service scholarship allowed me to pursue my master’s in speech-language therapy overseas. This broadened my exposure to how speech-language therapy is practised internationally. With a diversified pool of knowledge and skills acquired, I can contribute more back here in Singapore. The scholarship also provides rotation opportunities to different agencies every two years. Through this, I gain a variety of clinical experiences with different agencies and client demographics which gives me a macro perspective of various therapy models and organisational structures.

What advice would you give to those considering a scholarship with NCSS?

 A social service scholar should have the heart to serve. With the passion to serve your clients, you will continuously strive to do your best for them even during difficult times. Having an openness to learn is another crucial quality that would improve your skills as a clinician and improve your service. 

A role in speech-language therapy is one of many in social service. To find out more, read about a career in therapy.
Pictured is Evelyn with her picture tools in a therapy session.