Teletherapy: Expanding Access
Teletherapy involves using the Internet or other technologies to remotely connect speech therapists with clients, and this practice is on the rise as teletherapy can improve access to services and increases flexibility for therapists to meet caseload demands. While teletherapy can assist both therapists and families, it isn't always the most appropriate route for speech and language services. This article discusses client selection for teletherapy and environmental considerations for sessions.
For clients with access to an Internet connection, appropriate devices, and the skills necessary for teletherapy (e.g., visual/hearing ability, attention skills, technological literacy, etc.), this service option may offer tangible benefits. However, teletherapy may offer fresh challenges to some clients, and it is worthwhile to consider the appropriateness of teletherapy on an individual basis. This includes considerations for sensory and/or behavioral characteristics, as well as access to support resources during the session if needed. Therapists may consider using a trial period for teletherapy in ambiguous cases.
Teletherapy can often require advance planning, including positioning the monitor, camera, and therapy materials in a helpful way. More than this, clinicians may also consider modifying other aspects of the session to better accommodate clients. For example, clinicians may consider:
- Changing camera positioning to provide different views of the clinician and to provide better eye contact if needed.
- Using different verbal strategies, such as a slower speech rate, more pauses, and an emphasis on suprasegmental features in speech.
- Exaggerated facial and hand gestures to emphasize nonverbal communication.
- Captioning regardless of hearing status to stimulate greater communication.
A neutral background in a quiet and private environment is also considered optimal in most teletherapy settings.
Teletherapy is an exciting service that is expanding access to treatment options for many. However, it may require considerations and modifications for some clients. For more information on facilitating teletherapy, reach out to a Sidekick therapist today!