Abby Brooks, B. Ed., M. Sc. A, RSLP is a speech therapist who facilitates Changing Keys on Vancouver Island.
Changing Keys is a free speech and voice feminization training program for adults offered to British Columbia residents by Trans Care BC: Provincial Health Services Authority. For more information or to register please visit:
Additionally, Abby Brooks offers private assessment and voice therapy on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Intensive formats may also be offered in other locations. The speech therapy is personalized to meet the needs of the participant but parameters we may work on include speaking pitch, vocal inflections, voice quality and vocal resonance.
Feminization or Exploring Feminine Speech/Voice Features:
Whether you wish to explore speech therapy to develop a more feminine voice or want to explore feminine aspects of speech and voice, Abby provides an individualized and in-depth speech and language therapy approach to transgender voice therapy. Abby provides a toolbox of speech, voice and communication techniques and gives you the opportunity to develop the areas that are required to meet your personal speech therapy goals. As the techniques are introduced you can explore your voice and all its capacities and then decide what you will take home and continue to practice. This individualized approach to voice therapy gives you the opportunity to learn about each tool, use what is important to you and find a voice that feels right. You are the expert when it comes to gender and your own voice.
Often, when people think about vocal training, vocal therapy, voice therapy and what distinguishes between a more masculine or feminine voice, pitch comes to mind. Although most speech therapist experts and researchers agree that pitch is a main distinguishing feature, there is much more to changing your speech and voice. Understanding and practicing these additional aspects can have a profound effect on the feminine quality of someone's voice. Speech characteristics such as how the pitch changes when speaking (inflection), vocal resonance and voice quality are all part of feminizing voice.
When working with transgender voice feminization, the following areas are introduced and explored:
- Vocal health/conditioning – exercises for the overall health of your vocal folds and to prepare them for practice.
- Resonant voice – work to develop resonance that will add to the feminine quality of voice and help to protect the voice as pitch is increased. This approach is based on resonance voice therapy (Lessac-Madsen Resonance Voice Therapy).
- Higher Pitch – Both average speaking pitch and pitch range are addressed. Average speaking pitch refers to the average pitch that someones speaks at.
- Resonance of the sound once it leaves the vocal folds - this can be done by changing the larynx, tongue and lip placement.
- As part of voice quality, breathiness can also be addressed.
- Inflection can also be worked on - how the pitch changes and varies as someone talks.
- Generalization is discussed - how to incorporate what someone's learned into everyday life.
We can discuss:
- How voice is produced. When participating in voice therapy, it is important to have an understanding of how the voice works.
- Differences between voice production systems.
- Masculine/feminine characteristics of voice and communication.
- Non-verbal communication.
How the therapy process works:
An initial assessment is helpful to acquire base-line data for vocal parameters such as average speaking pitch and voice quality. After the initial assessment, voice therapy can begin.
The number of voice therapy sessions required vary per person. The process of speech and language therapy is very individualized. Some people feel they reach their goals after 9 or less sessions while others wish to continue for many more. Regular daily practice is important for change. First your practice will be to systematically review or explore the material given in therapy and then your job will be to incorporate what you've been practicing into everyday life. Change takes a willingness to experiment with your voice, a period of solid practice and then a conscious effort to use the new elements of your voice in real life. Regardless of how often or in what settings you present in your confirming gender, you can work on your voice.
The timing of sessions varies for individual preference and practice styles. Some people like weeks or months between sessions while others prefer weekly sessions. Sessions vary in length but are most often 1-2 hours. If coming from out of town, intensive formats are often preferred and these can be 3-7 hours in length. Online therapy can also be an option and information regarding this can be found here.
If is important to be aware that transgender people are at risk for problems with their voice. Manipulating your voice without care and professional guidance can increase tension or stress on the vocal folds.
Preparing for therapy:
- Contact Abby to check for session availability and establish a time to begin therapy. An assessment can occur before the actual start of therapy. Voice conditioning exercises can also be introduced before therapy begins.
- Begin to think about your vocal health. Are you drinking enough water? Do you question the presence of acid reflux? Discuss any of these concerns with Abby at your first appointment.
- Come ready to experiment and have fun!
Cost: Contact Abby for current fees. Some or all of the costs may be covered by medical benefits.