avoid SLP burnout

Avoid SLP Burnout by Practicing these 10 Necessary Self-Care Tips

Unfortunately, it is no longer a secret that some online speech therapists are struggling with severe burnout. These folks juggle seemingly endless paperwork, helping children with a variety of complex needs, and growing caseloads.

 

Add to that a possible lack of appreciation of the value of their work, and you have the perfect recipe for burnout. While it may be impossible to control all of these contributing factors, that doesn't necessarily mean that nothing significant can be done to change the outcome.

 

If this is you, here are a few suggestions that have a track record of success for online speech therapists who find themselves in the same boat as you.

 

1. Exercise

Evidence shows that regular physical activity not only diminishes a person's vulnerability to serious health problems but increases energy and a sense of well-being by releasing endorphins. What's more, it may be the perfect solution to just releasing frustration or pent up energy accumulated from the sessions throughout the day.

 

Those who exercise regularly experience decreased anxiety and enhanced mental clarity, as well. And don't be discouraged by thinking that the exercise needs to be strenuous. Sometimes merely stretching for a few minutes can increase blood circulation and get your energy flowing again.

 

2. Sleep

Getting enough sleep is neither indulgent nor optional. Research consistently shows that sleep is a prerequisite for both the mind and the body to function optimally. Alternatively, sleep deprivation is often the cause of many short-term and long-term problems. If you fall asleep within the first few moments you lay your head upon the pillow, you are probably sleep-deprived. Do yourself a favor and assure yourself of 6-7 hours of sleep.

 

There is another crucial benefit of getting enough sleep. With a clearer mind, you have increased the odds that you will make other healthy choices throughout the day, which will undoubtedly contribute to reducing your stress.

 

3. Eating

Your mother was right. When you eat better, you feel better, and your performance is enhanced. Your body is starving to be adequately nourished with healthy and nutritional foods, which will fuel your online speech therapy sessions throughout the day. You will see your focus sharpen and feel less drained although you are working hard.

 

4. Self-Awareness

When you feel overwhelmed, your mind is telling you to slow down; you're moving too fast. Perhaps you bit off more than you could chew, or what you bit off wasn't as chewable as it seemed. Whatever the case, your feelings of overwhelm are your mind's way of protecting you from harm. Self-awareness can be one of your most valuable assets.

 

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5. Boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries, while sometimes difficult, is often one of the essential ways to relieve yourself from burnout. It's tricky because setting a boundary on the surface may seem like capitulation or weakness. However, it is a sign of strength. An online speech therapist often works long hours, so the ability to say no to work at night or on the weekends is honoring and validating yourself as a person.

 

Successful and wealthy entrepreneurs understand that the single most important word in their vocabulary is "no." Those two letters are what preserve their strength and allow them to focus on the best way to use their time. It has been said that the "good" is often the enemy of the "best." As a dedicated online speech therapist, you deserve the "best" and the surest way to get it is to learn how to say "no."

 

6. Mental decompression

You may require emotional or mental decompressing. In other words, at some point, you need to shut down your therapist brain, which is akin to a hamster on a treadmill. Similarly, set a specific time to stop checking social media and checking email messages. Permit yourself to relax by entering the word "Nothing" into your schedule. That's right, time to do absolutely nothing!

 

7. Meditation

Don't think that meditation is just a fad. It may seem like one, but there is a lot to it. It has been said that meditating does for your brain what flossing does for your teeth. You need to periodically clean out those things from your mind that you don't need while creating the necessary pathways for the things that you do need.

 

Recent brain research has shown that regular meditation actually alters the architecture of your brain by rewiring the neural pathways to promote more positive thought patterns. In other words, the negative thoughts that keep spiraling through your mind can be reduced, and the consequent stress lessened.

 

8. Downtime

Don't just take breaks but be engaged in those precious moments of downtime. Whether it's going for a relaxing jog, reading your favorite novel, or listening to music, allow yourself to become fully engaged in that activity. The release you will feel is not only pleasurable but therapeutic as well.

 

9. Hobbies

Sometimes you need to do something entirely different, something you want to do. It might not seem to be "constructive," but indulging yourself in a hobby or some creative outlet such as music, art, or writing will be energizing. But don't leave it up to chance, carve that hour or two out of your schedule every week.

10. Connecting

While solitude is essential, allowing yourself to tune into both your mind and your body, connecting with others is critical as well. It can be with close friends, family members with whom you feel a special kinship or even colleagues in the workplace with whom you can share your professional ambitions. Regardless, that connection and attachment can sometimes breathe new life into a worn-out soul.

 

Bottom Line

Don't think that you need to implement all of these ideas at once. Take one suggestion, do it for a few days, see how it feels, and if you are deriving any benefit from it, try to make it into a habit. And then perhaps try another. Slowly but surely, your burnout is bound to diminish. The result could very well be that becoming the rejuvenated online speech therapist of your dreams may no longer be merely a dream!

Dear Speech Therapists: 4 Ways to Help Children Suffering from Trauma

Just the Facts, Please

Please consider these alarming statistics found on the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) website. As reported by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), the number of child abuse and neglect victims in 2015 was 683,000, or 9.2 victims per 1,000 children.

 

  • Each year, the number of youth requiring hospital treatment for physical assault-related injuries would fill every seat in 9 stadiums

  • 60% of adults report experiencing abuse or other difficult family circumstances during childhood

  • 26% of children in the United States will witness or experience a traumatic event before they turn four

  • 1 in 4 high school students was in at least one physical fight

  • 1 in 5 high school students was bullied at school; 1 in 6 experienced cyberbullying

  • 19% of injured and 12% of physically ill youth have a post-traumatic stress disorder

  • More than half of U.S. families have been affected by some disaster (54%)

 

Research studies continue to show that traumatic experiences suffered in childhood have a destructive impact on numerous levels, such as altering brain function and compromising the child socially, emotionally, behaviorally, and academically. Toxic levels of stress and anxiety can often be equivalent to deeply traumatic experiences and may present as the child being unresponsive, angry, depressed, distracted, or defiant.

 

Often, children receiving speech therapy are misdiagnosed with anxiety, behavior, or attention disorders rather than understood to have trauma that’s driving those symptoms and reactions.

 

1. The ABC’s

Children who have suffered trauma may find it difficult to fully participate and engage in a speech therapy session unless they feel supported and safe. Aside from the intrinsic value of helping the child, it has been shown that the child’s therapeutic performance will be enhanced if the child is less anxious. Therapeutic outcomes and lowering stress go hand in hand.

 

If you see that the child is finding it difficult to respond to cues during the session, don’t jump to the conclusion that a child is disinterested or defiant. Instead, consider the source of the problem. There may be a problem at home that is causing distress. Be sensitive and accommodating, and the session will get back on track.

 

Remain flexible when responding to “good” and “bad” behaviors. It is essential to keep in mind that “trauma babies” often react disproportionately to minor mishaps and are quite vulnerable to becoming easily frustrated or triggered. By adopting a trauma-informed perspective, you will relate to the child with openness and curiosity.

 

The sense of being out of control is a hallmark of traumatic experiences and post-traumatic stress disorder. Therefore it behooves the therapist to establish and adhere to a precise and predictable routine throughout the session. This predictability will provide the child with a sense of stability and promote calm. Consider as well that, since words may not sink in for a trauma baby, she may need other sensory cues as well.

2. Don’t Judge the Trauma

One of the cardinal rules of working with those who have suffered trauma is that the trauma shouldn’t be judged. Although from the perspective of the therapist, the situation may not seem all that bad, it is the child’s perception that counts. For no apparent reason, that child may feel extremely vulnerable and that his life or safety is at risk.

 

And sometimes, the trauma may not be borne of one particular incident but rather the culmination of chronic stress. For example, a child whose family lives in poverty may be overwhelmed with the worry that there won’t be enough money to pay the rent, or enough money to buy food.

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Such incessant stressors can be the cause of trauma. So, rather than assuming that this child is a problem, it would be far more helpful to ask, “What may this child be going through to cause such behavior”?

 

3. Build the Relationship

You as a speech therapist intuitively know that it is critical to establish and maintain a good relationship with your clients. When it comes to children who have suffered trauma, this need is amplified. The connection will do more for the child than you realize. Aside from enhancing therapeutic outcomes, you may become another solid pillar in this child’s shaky life.

 

Don’t be afraid before jumping into the session to spend a moment or two developing that rapport, asking questions which the child will be comfortable answering. While the time you spend trying to establish a connection with the child may detract from the lesson plan, it may prove invaluable in the long run.

 

4. Help the Child Through the Therapy Session

A. Focus on Support

Assuming that you aren’t doubling as a mental health therapist, it isn’t your place to focus on what caused the trauma nor on the specifics of the situation. Instead, all of your attention should be directed to providing support for the child who is suffering. Reacting with flexibility and empathy doesn’t require that you dig deeper into the trauma nor explore the details.

 

B. Recognize the Child’s Need for Control

Children who have suffered trauma have experienced a lack of control. It is critical to provide ways for these children to exercise their choice and control within an activity. One way is to find materials that promote the opportunity for the user to choose which activities and materials to use.

 

Also, don’t unilaterally set goals for the child; instead, include the child in the process. In so doing, you will promote a sense of control which the trauma baby so desperately needs. In much the same vein, choose games and exercises that will practically assure the child’s success.

 

And finally, rather than telling the child she is succeeding, make this success experiential. As trauma is such a sensory experience, kids who have suffered trauma need more than words; they need positive experiences to heal.

 

C. Allow the Child to Self-Regulate

Many children who suffer trauma are plagued with emotionally unavailable parents; therefore, these children have never learned how to soothe themselves. One common consequence is that focusing may be difficult. Help them cope by working breaks such as a stretch or a short game into the session.

5 Questions to Help You Choose Your Ideal Online Speech Therapy Job

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be choosing between two jobs that they want. If this is your situation, then congratulations! Your tireless efforts have paid off. However, once you have finished celebrating, the dilemma begins. How can you be sure to make the right choice?

Here are five important questions that will guide you in that critical decision.

 

1. How Does Each Job Fit Into Your Career Goals?

Now that you are in the driver’s seat, it’s time to think beyond this job and become somewhat of a visionary about the future. How does each of these offers fit into your career goals?

It’s time to turn the tables a bit by changing the focus from your value to the company to the company’s worth to you. As you review your notes regarding the online speech therapy job being offered, pay particular attention to the organization as a whole and the culture where you will place yourself, and consider the following:

  1. Seeing beyond the moment, which job is more aligned with your career goals?

  2. Do you see more potential for growth in one of the offers?

  3. Will one of the jobs require you to develop new skills?

  4. Does one of the positions seem to be more challenging?

Thinking beyond the moment in terms of your long-term goals can give you an entirely new perspective regarding the decision.

2. Salary and Benefits Or Personal Satisfaction?

Initially, the choice of which job to select may be a no-brainer.  After all, you are working for money, so why not accept the offer that pays more?  Add to that the compensation packages, health care coverage, paid vacations, and 401(k) contributions, and you may be able to save yourself all kinds of time in deciding. Just do the math, and you’ll have your decision in no time.

But it’s not as simple as it seems. You’ve neglected to factor in “the satisfaction quotient.” Don’t forget that paramount to your happiness is job satisfaction. So let’s say that the job that pays more won’t satisfy you as much as the other. Now the decision becomes a bit more complicated, as you need to weigh whether or not higher financial remuneration to do a job you will enjoy less is worth it at the end of the day.

Should you decide that your satisfaction is more important, this might inspire you to negotiate that offer for a higher salary. Remember that both offers are on the table, and it is your choice if you want to accept either of them, so take your time to crack the best deal.

3. Which Boss Do You Want To Work For?

Many disgruntled employees claim that they didn’t leave the company; they left the manager. The person in the company who directly manages your online speech therapy position on a day-to-day basis will have a considerable impact on your experience at work.

Bad managers can drain the enthusiasm and motivation out of employees, even to the point that they want to quit. On the other hand, a good manager will not only inspire and motivate you but will facilitate your growth in the position and perhaps in the company as well. Consider very carefully under whom you will be working.

Before making that fateful decision as to which job to choose, learn as much as you can about your potential new managers. If possible, seek out current employees to speak to about their experiences with the manager to get greater insight as to what to expect.

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4. Should You Trust Your Gut?

As you review your notes before making that decision, it’s essential to recall the feelings you had during the interview and the seemingly insignificant details associated with those first interactions. Were there any red flags that you need to consider?

Be careful not to become too analytical. You need to trust your instincts before you make a choice. Sometimes a dynamic that you can’t put your finger on, but intuitively understand, can make the difference between your future happiness and misery!

When it comes to trusting your gut, there are no right or wrong answers. It is entirely subjective. What is problematic to you may be just what another candidate is looking for, and vice versa. Some online speech therapy jobs allow for more independence, which may suit you just fine, while others may be more structured. Which do you prefer?

Let’s say that, after all, is said and done, you decide to accept a particular offer. You are excited that you finally have the clarity and resolve, and are all ready to make the phone call to accept the job. And then, as you dial the number, a sense of dread comes over you. Pay attention to those feelings and find out what they tell you about your decision.

The bottom line is that you need to trust yourself. Although family and friends may be encouraging you to go against your gut for any number of reasons, keep in mind that you are the one who is going to work there day in and day out.

5. What’s The End Game?

Research has shown that, if you are like most people, you will make your decision in the first minute or so and then spend all kinds of time gathering the information and data to give intellectual support to your intuitive choice.

Perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind is to keep things as simple as possible. Don’t suck the life out of yourself with endless details.

Create a short and simple list of your priorities that will keep you focused on those things that you value most. Often, adding layers of complexity adds unnecessary confusion. It may be helpful to consult with someone whose judgment you trust to gain insight and perhaps even a new perspective.

Your ideal outcome of this crucial decision-making process is that you will accept the job offer that is your best fit, while at the same time doesn’t burn any bridges with the second choice in case you need to make a change sometime in the future.

Another, perhaps more creative alternative, is that if the two offers are so close, perhaps you may decide to accept both offers part-time, if possible, and see which one grows and develops to your liking. Besides “keeping your options open,” you may solve that nagging problem of wondering if you made the “right choice” altogether.

Is Today’s Teletherapy Tomorrow’s College Preparation?

1. The Benefits of Being an Effective Communicator

Perhaps the most apparent benefit of effective communication is that you can convey your ideas clearly and make them understood to the listener. This, in turn, results in a better ability to understand others as well. The ramifications of fruitful dialogue are many and profound. Some of the more obvious are:

  1. Communication isn’t a one-way street. As you express yourself more clearly, you become a better listener as well, enhancing your interpersonal interactions and relationships. Face it; everybody wants to be heard. Communicating and connecting with those around you will go far in improving your quality of life.

  2. The clarity in expressing yourself minimizes the chance that you will be misunderstood, and thereby avoid so many of the problems that evolve from misunderstanding. Saving time, avoiding frustration, and eliminating the negative feelings that result from misunderstandings will make you more productive.

  3. Effective communication is a boon for empathy. Lacking the ability to communicate effectively will essentially block your understanding of what the other person is going through, thus rendering empathy practically irrelevant. Increased empathy means increased connection to the other person.

  4. The ability to communicate well both orally and through the written word is a significant component in the development of critical thinking skills. Excellent thinking skills open the doorway to academic and employment opportunities reserved for those who are so endowed. It’s the gift that doesn’t stop giving.

  5. You will become the “go to” person in both stressful times and times of crisis as you will develop a reputation for clarity and reliability.

2. Effective Communication Is Key To College Success

It is essential to understand that the importance of effective communication begins when a child is still very young. It is part in parcel of early social development and critical to laying the foundation for academic success. As the child advances from one level of education to the next, the need for effective communication remains constant.

If a child is unable to develop strong communication skills, that child is at risk of lagging behind peers and is vulnerable to becoming overwhelmed by the experience of being in school with all the problematic repercussions.

It all begins in kindergarten. Making eye contact, speaking with clarity, and listening attentively without interrupting are all hallmarks of a child who is on the road to becoming an effective communicator. When interacting within the group with other children, she is already learning the keys to both verbal and non-verbal communication.

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Oral Language Skills

It is essential that the child learn the art of clear oral communication early on in his school career.  When the child is called upon in the classroom to answer questions, whether they require a simple answer or a more thought-out response, clarity is imperative. If the child cannot adequately communicate, how will the teacher be able to gauge the child’s understanding and knowledge?

Pragmatic and Social Language Skills

There is another dimension of oral communication that is known as pragmatic and social language. Children, like the rest of us, navigate their social lives and the world around them through language. Being successful in the social realm is an essential ingredient for healthy adjustment, positive self-esteem, and happiness.

Written Communication Skills

However, effective communication is not limited to speaking. A child must become adept at being able to communicate through the written word as well. The demand for effective writing increases as the student progresses in his academic career. Knowing how to express ideas, argue points, and synthesize and summarize information becomes a barometer of academic success, not to mention its importance in crafting an important email to a friend, employer, or college admissions officer.