Teletherapy is one of the hottest, new service delivery models hitting the scene, and if you are still a little unclear about what it is, you can check out my previous blog, Teletherapy: What’s all the Buzz About?, to learn what exactly teletherapy is. But for those who already have a preliminary understanding of teletherapy, I want to delve a little deeper and explain what the teletherapy process looks like. Granted, this is just a quick and dirty rundown, and different companies may have slightly different practices, but you’ll leave this blog with a solid overview of the general process.
Teletherapy is delivered using a HIPPA-compliant video-conferencing software, such as Zoom (this is just one platform, but there are countless others and this is not an endorsement of any platform. Therapists and families utilize a computer, phone or tablet to run the software for the teletherapy sessions. Some companies also require patients to use headphones to reduce background noise and make focusing easier. Ideally, both you and the therapist should be located in areas that are free of noise and distractions. Most kids will require the use of a ‘speech helper’. This helper is responsible for helping to ensure the therapist is able to implement therapy as efficiently and problem-free as possible. The helper may be responsible for making sure equipment is functioning properly, gathering any toys or materials that may be needed for therapy and keeping the child physically present if necessary.
Lesson plans are usually created a few days before each session and discussed prior to therapy to allow families to prepare any necessary items needed, though teletherapists do have an arsenal of online games and activities to use as well. Once the child and therapist are in place, therapy is done as usual, though depending on the age and ability of the child, sometimes more a coaching model is implemented, wherein the therapist relays instructions to the speech helper to implement therapeutic techniques.
Many families and therapists are initially aversive to teletherapy. They have concerns ranging from being able to build rapport and maintaining client attention, to wondering if patients actually make progress. Parents and professionals can rest assured, because research has shown that teletherapy can be just as effective as traditional therapy and many teletherapists feel certain children do better with teletherapy due to the increased use of technology. While it’s true that teletherapy may not be the best fit for everyone, more children are able to utilize this valuable tool than many parents may think, making it, in my professional opinion, something worth learning more about.
If you have any additional questions about teletherapy, speech or occupational therapy, please give us a call at 404-606-3755 for more information.