what is teletherapy telepractice

What is Teletherapy?

If you're a school administrator or a therapist wondering, "What is teletherapy?" you've come to the right place! Teletherapy and what it offers opens up an exciting world of possibilities both for you and for children across the globe. By the time you've finished this post, you'll know everything you need to about teletherapy and how to get started with it today.

1. What is Teletherapy?

Teletherapy, or telepractice as it's otherwise known, is the online delivery of therapy services via two-way video conferencing. Sessions are nearly identical to traditional speech sessions save for one major exception. Instead of sitting together in the same room, students and therapists interact via live video conferencing.

2. Is there a need for teletherapy?

In a word: Yes. Over 10% of America’s school-age population—between 6 and 7 million children—require special education; many of them requiring therapy. Statistical research reveals that there is a growing shortage of therapists to meet this demand, and this is increasing annually.

Further exacerbating the problem, these clinicians are unequally distributed geographically; many are concentrated in certain regions, leaving other areas with a shortage of available therapists. This worsening shortage, particularly in rural districts, makes it difficult for schools to provide adequately for many of the children who desperately need therapy services.

The shortage has increased the cost of therapy and put a heavy burden on already overstretched school budgets and personnel who must spend inordinate amounts of time and energy searching for and managing scarce therapists. In some cases, schools have fallen short of federal mandates. Teletherapy is the perfect solution to this painful and growing problem.

3. Does research show that teletherapy is effective?

Online therapy has been used successfully since the late 1990’s in tens of thousands of therapy sessions across the United States. It has been found to be an effective and appropriate treatment for speech disorders in 20 years of research by over 40 academic published peer-reviewed studies beginning with a landmark paper by the Mayo Clinic in 1997.

4. Does ASHA endorse teletherapy?

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has recognized telepractice as an appropriate method of service delivery since 2005. Based on the substantial body of peer-reviewed research supporting it as an effective way of delivering speech therapy service, ASHA has declared, "Telepractice is an appropriate model of service delivery for audiologists and speech-language pathologists."

5. How does teletherapy compare to traditional onsite therapy?

Greater access to high-quality therapists, anytime/anywhere scheduling, and high-tech tools yield equal or better outcomes compared to national norms for traditional speech therapy. These findings have been validated by recent research funded by the Department of Education. Also, teletherapy promotes a better match between child and clinician - making it easier to access therapists with appropriate linguistic or cultural backgrounds when required.

6. What is the technical setup for teletherapy?

Installation is simple and straightforward! A representative from the online agency will walk you through the process and provide the necessary support. All that is required is a computer, an internet connection, a webcam, and an audio headset. The confidentiality and privacy of all student data and secure information is protected by a reliable provider whose system is secure and encrypted per HIPAA and FERPA regulations.

7. Is teletherapy for everyone?

While study after study demonstrates the effectiveness of this excellent alternative, nevertheless some students will still benefit more from traditional on-site therapy. For example, online therapy is not the preferred option for students with extremely limited attention skills or alertness. In some instances, a “hybrid” option (combining on-site with online therapy) may be optimal.

8. Where will I find materials to provide teletherapy?

The good news is that there is an expanding universe of both websites and apps specifically geared to provide materials, games, exercises, you name it, for online therapy providers. The possibilities seem to be endless!

Truth be told, there is no way for any clinician to stay abreast of the accelerating rate of invention. This acceleration coupled with the ease of access to the online venue assure that both the clinician and child alike will enjoy a constant array of fresh and exciting choices, enhancing the clinical experience for everyone involved.

9. Why are schools increasingly more interested in teletherapy?

Online therapy affords schools unprecedented flexibility and access to top-notch therapists, as the schools are no longer constrained to locally-based clinicians, but can draw from an extensive nationwide network of highly qualified, certified therapists.

Additionally, the technology allows for optimal reporting and communications, which leads to increased parent satisfaction. Schools are overjoyed to be relieved of seemingly inescapable administrative headaches and expense.

Districts no longer have to recruit, screen, and manage therapists, pay transportation costs, or worry about interruptions in therapy when clinicians are absent, leave, or no longer reside within the district. Top-notch online therapy agencies handle all these functions while helping to ensure uninterrupted service, freeing up staff time for other educational priorities.

10. How does teletherapy benefit therapists?

Teletherapy is a dream come true for therapists as well. It offers convenient work hours with no need to travel. You can serve children nationwide while working from the comfort of your home. Other benefits include a single point of contact: contracting directly with the online therapy agency–simplifying scheduling, paperwork, and payment.

User-friendly EMR software makes progress monitoring easy and efficient through streamlining data with IEP objectives. You have easy access to records to review student progress with school administrators, parents, and teachers and provide them with graphs that visually represent the student’s progress over time.

Scheduling and conferences with parents and schools are easy to manage by using the agency’s online tools and video conferencing environment. And if you already hold an on-site clinical position, you can integrate additional hours of online therapy into your schedule.

what is teletherapy11. How do kids feel about teletherapy?

The children benefit most of all! Growing up with digital technology, kids love online video interactions and digital learning. They’re comfortable with computers and enjoy the fun, game-based activities.

Children often find the experience less intimidating than in-person interactions. And the fact that sessions can be recorded and replayed provides an invaluable gift for both the students and parents, to monitor, critique and offer feedback.

Contact Global Teletherapy to find out how you can harness the power of teletherapy today.



Speech Telepractice: 3 Ways To Duck Lethal Burn Out

Why did you choose speech telepractice in the first place? I doubt it was for fortune or fame.  You probably chose to become an SLP because you love helping people. When that precious child’s face is aglow with the excitement of an amazing communication breakthrough that will change her life forever, you are beside yourself with joy.  This is why you became an SLP!

So why do you awaken some days dreading the thought of going to work?  Think for a moment, is it that your caseload is overloaded?  Or are you overwhelmed with paperwork? Perhaps you have come to the sobering realization that you don’t have what it takes to help some of your kids.

How can you flip this around and salvage your speech telepractice career?

Speech Telepractice: Are you aware of your “Burnout Vulnerability”?

1. Don’t be a hero:  Get help!

Let’s face it; nobody enjoys writing lesson plans for 40 kids. The solution: create fewer lesson plans and take advantage of pre-made lesson plans to lighten your load.  Realize that there is no reason to write a new lesson plan for each and every child since most speech telepractice students don’t progress so rapidly. Use existing templates and modify them when necessary.

Then, if you happen to have a kid whose progress is moving on a fast track, you can adjust lesson plan without revamping the entire caseload. Consumer friendly guides to develop speech and language skills are available online both for free and for a fee.  Just google speech therapy resources, and you will be pleasantly surprised to see what is available.

2. Become Even Greater

Why not treat yourself to a continuing education course or conference?  The excitement of something new can infuse you with the energy to overcome your malaise.  Maybe it’s a fresh insight into your therapeutic population, or a brand new technique to upgrade the particular therapy that you offer. And don’t forget- the courses and conferences are tax deductible!

Another option for enhancing your speech telepractice career is to add certifications or degrees which aside from increasing your knowledge will open the door to new and more lucrative employment opportunities.  Alternatively, this may be the time to move your career to the next level- management. Perhaps the time has come for you to manage other SLPs!

3. Maybe It’s Time for Real Change

Face it, working day in and day out with the same type of client can get quite annoying after a while.  Lacking fresh new challenges, it becomes difficult to maintain your focus and sustain your excitement.  You may need more of a variety of clients to fully maximize your potential and realize the satisfaction that you crave.

Or maybe it’s something else.  Could it be that those unreasonable productivity requirements are slowly extinguishing your flame?  Or is your supervisor bearing down too hard?  If you have had enough aggravation, maybe it’s time just to call it quits and find another job.  Harness the internet to find a better speech telepractice job.

Or better yet, perhaps the time has come for you break out and start your private practice affording you more control over the complexion of your workload.

Remember Why You Got Into the Profession

Instead of questioning why you chose a career of speech telepractice in the first place, realize that you need not throw out the baby with the bath water.  Your clients often desperately need the help you can offer them. If you step back and take a deep breath, and tackle burnout like any other challenge, with self-compassion and insight, know that help is already on the way!

speech telepractice

4 Tips for Managing Challenging Children During Speech Telepractice

What could derail the speech telepractice session?

Most SLPs have confronted challenging children during a speech telepractice session.  And many of you are often at a loss as to how to work with a child who has a problem with motivation, focus, or simply behaving.  While this is the nature of the beast, after all these are children, because these challenges reduce clinical effectiveness they must be addressed.

Face it; frustrations will occur.  So what can you do to mitigate the impact of these problems?  What strategies will assist you in navigating those choppy waters that threaten to capsize the entire session? Implementing the four strategies below will help keep the session on track and perhaps, as importantly, salvage your relationship with the child in those difficult moments.

Establishing Rapport is Critical

Before you begin working with a new child, it is important to conduct a short interview with the parent that contains essentially three fundamental questions.

1 - Does your child have difficulty relating to new people, adults in particular?
2 - Is your child challenged in sustaining attention on a task?
3 - How does your child handle frustration?

You can’t just ask, “Should I expect your child to be challenging?” Explicitly asking if the kid is problematic may affront the parent. Nonetheless, answering these questions will alert you that establishing rapport, so critical in speech telepractice, may take more time, sensitivity and compassion. Surely you will reap the dividends throughout your entire experience with the child.

Don’t Take it Personally

Rule number one is “don’t get into it with the child.”  When those challenging behaviors do arise, don’t take them too seriously, don’t take it personally and whatever you do, don’t escalate it!  Not only will you kill the speech telepractice session, but you may seriously impair that precious rapport you worked so painstakingly to achieve.

Aside from gratifying the child’s impetus to manipulate you with his outbursts, you will be jeopardizing your therapeutic effectiveness.  Being sensitive to the child’s frustration and rewarding inappropriate behavior are two different things.  You need to allow and sometimes even encourage the child to vent his frustrations.  Venting frustration can be very therapeutic.

But instead of that failure triggering a meltdown which will be of no benefit to the child, empower the child to go beyond it bringing him back into the therapy.  Perhaps the task at hand was too much right now.  No problem, either shorten it or move to something else to regain the “therapeutic momentum.” Avoid allowing the outburst to become a prolonged interruption.

Positive Reinforcement and Praise

It seems almost instinctive to react to outbursts by becoming frustrated and dropping a seemingly innocuous comment such as, “we can’t take our break until we finish four more words,” or “I need to tell your mommy that you spoke fresh to me today.”  Why not try, “you almost got it” or “you’re doing great, you’re almost there.”

As child development literature suggests, it is positive rather than negative reinforcement that brings the best results. A corollary to positive reinforcement is the importance of being very generous with praise. Don’t limit heaping on praise to a significant breakthrough, but look for opportunities to recognize and applaud those little seemingly insignificant victories as well.

Consistency with Expectations and Rules

Shifting the expectations or rules can cause the child to become confused. Be sure to establish your standards in a very friendly way at the beginning of the relationship as you are building your rapport with the child, and don’t swerve away from them. Allowing the child to do less opens the door to negotiation; demanding more can cause exasperation and loss of trust.

Take the Lemons and Make Lemonade

It is important to remember that challenging behaviors are generally unrelated to the therapy or the therapist.  That said, they are challenges you cannot ignore.  The effectiveness of your speech telepractice may depend on how well you recognize and react to those challenges.  Keep these strategies in mind and watch your success to grow by leaps and bounds!


3 Reasons Stuttering Children Ignore Speech Telepractice Lessons

What became of those great tools my child learned during speech telepractice?

It seems only logical that if a stuttering child can overcome that stutter during her speech telepractice session that she would apply those same strategies to “real life”? After all, children (teenagers in particular) will do just about anything to avoid stigmatizing themselves. So the obvious question is, “Why do they forsake the very tools that will save them this indignity?”

While those techniques that modify stuttering are learned rather quickly in treatment, many speech therapists became frustrated and discouraged when they see this progress evaporate soon after the session’s conclusion. What is it–the child’s laziness, the family not doing “their homework” with the child, or is it perhaps a deficiency in the SLP's strategy?

It may be helpful to consider that instead of looking for whom to blame, the real answer may be something entirely different...

Reason # 1: Mommy, this is just too hard!

First, you must recognize that implementing the changes made in the speech telepractice session can be exponentially more difficult when considering the factors present in real life that didn't exist during the session. Feeling time pressure of articulating the sound, navigating interruptions, or the fear of “failing”; any of these could cause the child to go blank.

What can you do to help?

It is critical that in addition to teaching the child the strategies to overcome her stuttering that you begin to gradually integrate the implementation of those strategies into real life situations that the child will need to confront. Whether it is the classroom, the playground or even in the home, the child needs practice using the tools and thus gain the confidence that is so essential.

Reason #2: But Mommy, this makes me sound so weird!

All of the various techniques that can help a child to reduce her stuttering have a common denominator– pausing. So while the child may have mastered a technique, she will still sound different from her friends, or in her words, “weird!” Feeling weird is enough to shut up any child and could explain why the child is ignoring her well-taught strategies outside of the sessions.

What can you do to help?

You may want to help to desensitize the child to the negative feedback she will probably receive from her peers when she implements the strategies you taught her. Role play with your client by sharing some of the unintended verbal abuse that she will probably encounter and help her to cope with it by fortifying her with responses, emboldening her to persevere.

Reason #3: Mommy, I know it’s great, but it just isn’t worth it!

Just like we make a cost-benefit analysis in our decisions, the stuttering child will as well.  Superficially, it seems like a no-brainer.  With so many benefits that will improve verbal fluency, why wouldn't the child implement the strategies?  But consider the costs- greater effort, losing focus on the message, and the fear that the strategy won’t work- leaving her with nothing.

How Can I Help?

You need to be straight with the child. Discuss the benefits and the costs of utilizing the strategies in various situations. As the child’s awareness and acceptance of her stuttering grows, her feelings, the discomfort experienced, and other’s reactions become more tolerable which will decrease the stuttering. This will lower the costs of the tools and promote their usage.

The Comprehensive Approach

Although there are many very effective strategies to reduce the pain of stuttering, you must realize that actual speech telepractice accomplishment is only when the child can apply the strategies in “real life.”  Work to understand why your client is failing to implement what she learned, and craft strategies to address those challenges, helping her to be truly successful!