teletherapy for rural schools

Teletherapy for Rural Schools: 3 Reasons to Become a Generalist

Advantage of Being a Specialist

Excluding those at the very top or bottom on the employment spectrum, society, in general, seems to place a premium on specialists over generalists. So it’s understandable that when fresh graduates enter the workforce, they're naturally inclined to seek a specialty in their field of choice.

In fact, one marketing study after the next reveals that we're indeed a “boutique” society. Consumers of services and products greatly value and are willing to pay for something unique. So it certainly seems to be a “no-brainer” for a therapist to specialize.

Beyond choosing what appears to be “financially intelligent,” another key benefit to specializing is that specializing allows therapists to develop an expertise through study and clinical experience, thus reducing risks of making mistakes in their work.

Rural Schools Require Generalists

However, this discounts an important market for therapists to consider. Whereas in the past Rural America was beyond the pale of consideration for many,  teletherapy for rural schools has changed all that. The accelerating need for qualified therapists in Rural America coupled with online therapy has completely transformed the equation.

These same clinicians who wouldn’t think of moving to a small town can now provide those residents therapeutic services from the comfort of their home at their convenience. What’s more, since rural areas require the therapist to serve the needs of a diversified clientele, it is the generalist, not the specialist who is more valuable.

Advantages of Generalist

But don’t think that the benefit of becoming a generalist is limited to providing teletherapy for rural schools. It is important to become a generalist for other reasons as well.

1. Expertise

Becoming a generalist provides exposure to multiple dimensions. Generalizing helps the therapist gain significant insight into different types of prognoses and develop an array of modalities to serve various types of clients. Generalizing is invaluable to developing one’s career–irrespective of what direction it will end up going in.

Get your free copy of our groundbreaking ebook: Teletherapy Diminishes Client Engagement: Debunking The Myths

Additionally, what isn’t appreciated is that being a generalist is a specialty itself. Generalists are forced to be more creative, flexible, and comfortable with change. These are valuable skills. Lastly, being a generalist cultivates the need and ability to be open-minded and attack new problems with a fresh perspective.

2. Refreshment

A fringe benefit is that being a generalist protects the therapist from getting bored and even more importantly significantly reduces the risk of burn-out. There is always somewhere new to turn to try previously unexplored options when you're a generalist.

3. Survival

Perhaps most importantly, being a generalist is one of the greatest insurances against being sidelined by changing markets, which is particularly relevant in our uncertain times. Whereas there is security in knowing a specialty, should the situation dictate a lateral move, while the specialist may be ill-prepared, the generalist is poised and ready.

Even in the animal kingdom, certain species can only survive in a specific environment, where the conditions must be perfect. If those conditions are sufficiently altered, they risk extinction. However, more adaptable species, which aren’t bound by the same limitations to survive and thrive can “go with the flow.”  Employment is no different.

Teletherapy for Rural Schools

To make it simple, Rural America’s diverse needs are advantageous for generalists. Now, with the wonders of technology, these therapists can provide teletherapy for rural schools from the comfort of their homes.  It’s a win-win-win: for the therapists, clients, and school administrators. Are you ready to become a generalist?

teletherapy rural schools

Online Therapy for Rural Schools

teletherapy rural schools

Image courtesy of Teach.com.

The Problem: The Vanishing Rural Therapist

An accelerating therapist shortage in Rural America is creating higher caseloads for therapists.  Consequently, this is causing unprecedented therapist burnout, unwelcomed recruiting and turnover expenses, and impeding students from making progress against their IEP goals. The unhappy result–many innocent children, left to suffer in silence.

1. Just Not Enough Therapists

Take SLPs for example: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, “there is a considerable national shortage of SLPs projected over the next 5 years. An additional 28,800 SLPs will be needed to fill the demand between 2010 and 2020.”  These shortages are exacerbated in rural areas where 80% of rural schools have shortages in special education teachers and staff.

2. Not Enough Money

An equally imposing hurdle to solving the deficit is money or not enough of it. Compounding budget shortfalls are inadequate tax revenues, which take a heavy toll on special education and therapy.  Add to this the higher recruitment fees charged by staffing agencies to find “distant and elusive” therapists, and the heartbreaking reality is this: the children are being sacrificed.

3. Hard to Attract or Hold Therapists

But it isn’t only that salaries are not competitive. Rural areas are far from urban cultural centers and universities, thus restricting teachers from participating in training and development programs that would enhance therapists professionally. Rural clinicians often complain of feeling isolated both socially and culturally.

The Optimal Solution: Online Therapy for Rural Schools

Given this sad state of affairs, it certainly would be understandable and even well justified for rural school administrators to wave their white flags in surrender. Where can they possibly go to solve this seemingly insurmountable problem?

Enter online therapy for rural schools which provides anytime, anywhere access to licensed, credentialed Mental Health, Occupational, and Speech Language Therapists. Furthermore, it saves critical financial resources by eliminating recruitment hassles and expenses, screening, contracting, training, managing clinicians, and transportation costs.

Get your free copy of our groundbreaking ebook: Teletherapy Diminishes Client Engagement: Debunking The Myths

It’s a Win Win Win!

The Kids

Computers are part of the very tapestry of our children’s lives. They love game-based activities such as video interactions and computerized learning. As technology advances, and children become more adept with computers at a young age, the expectation of being motivated by the computer; the monitor, games, and images will provide a seamless transition into online therapy.

School Administrators

1. Solving the Staffing Shortage

Online therapy for rural schools is viable, evidence-based, and cost-effective practice for districts. These districts can hire high-quality clinicians at reasonable rates, and ensure that their students receive consistent therapy by eliminating barriers to distance, mobility, and time. And they will fully comply with The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

2. Flexibility

By eliminating geographic and logistical barriers, there is unprecedented flexibility regarding when therapy sessions take place. While onsite contractors control the timing and may lock schools into rigid schedules, the network of therapists and the online delivery model allows for therapy to be provided when it’s convenient for the school and the students.

3. Consistency

Online therapy for rural schools ensures uninterrupted service. Since the online therapy agency has a pool of therapists ready, it’s no longer a hassle to finds replacements when therapists leave, move away or are just absent. And this benefits the student as well, being that success is often directly linked to the therapist’s consistency.

Therapists

Online therapy for rural schools allow you to be your boss, enjoy flexible, convenient hours and eliminate travel. You can work as much as you want, and grow your career while working from the comfort of your home. It promotes productivity, managing caseload and workload more efficiently, and the chance to spend more time working with kids and less time in the car.

The Future is Already Here

So, while the challenge is daunting, and perhaps even overwhelming at times, online therapy for rural schools offers an effective, nationally endorsed solution that brings new hope and promise for children in rural districts...and their school administrators who want to help them!

SLP services

5 Signs Your Preschooler Needs SLP Services

Before Even Considering SLP Services

As you can imagine, knowing the difference between what is and what isn't standard regarding a child’s speech and language development is vital. While important at every stage, it's perhaps even more so for a preschooler. If problems can be nipped in the bud, a tender young child could be spared potential life-altering challenges as she grows. Here are some of the signs:

1 - Mispronunciation

One of the most common (and often adorable) hallmarks of preschoolers’ speech are mistakes with pronunciation. For the most part, this is completely normal. Who hasn’t heard a little child substitute an f or d sound for th ("I'm taking a baf" for "I'm taking a bath") However just be aware that these cute mispronunciations are common (and normal) only until about six years old.

What is key is to watch your preschooler's pronunciation gradually improve over time. The truth is that by the time she is 3, most of what comes out of her mouth should be understandable, give or take a lapse here and there. But if your kid isn’t talking so much, not to mention remaining pretty silent, this is your cue to solicit SLP services.

2 - A Lisp

A lisp is pronouncing the "s" sound like a "th." The correct pronunciation of an "s" is produced with the tongue behind the top teeth. A kid who lisps incorrectly pushes his tongue out. This may push air out the side of his mouth. Don’t worry! Many children lisp as they're learning to talk, and will self-correct by 7. But seek SLP services by age five before the lisp becomes habitual.

3 - Language Expression

It isn’t uncommon for kids to struggle with their language and speech until the age of 3. Often this can be attributed to the child’s eagerness to communicate, which causes her to stumble when she feels that she isn’t being understood. However if when she turns four years old, her thoughts aren’t flowing in complete sentences with less effort there may be cause for concern.

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4 - Stuttering

It is quite common for young children to go through a phase where they stutter–perhaps even painfully. Stuttering at this age is a function of the child’s brainpower overwhelming verbal dexterity. So excited to tell you what he’s thinking, or so tired, or so angry, or so upset, the words just don’t come out so easily. But for most kids, the stuttering won’t persist.

5 - Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Childhood Apraxia of Speech, or CAS, is a nervous system disorder that impairs a child's ability to speak and may require intensive SLP services. This disorder isn’t due to muscle weakness, but the brain’s inability to direct the body to produce speech. If you hear your kid inconsistent in enunciating simple sounds, this may be a sign of apraxia.

Difference Between Speech and Language Disorders

Speech and Language, while often used interchangeably, are entirely different. Speech refers to the sound of spoken language whereas Language refers to the expression of meaning. A child with a language disorder may have difficulty either understanding what’s being said or communicating thoughts. This may be seen in learning new words or having conversations.

Why it is Important for an SLP to be an Educator

It is important for therapists that provide SLP Services be keenly aware of these warning signs and educate parents. The SLP who sees herself as an educator, above and beyond the clinical session, will become a valuable resource for her clients and others. Parents feel more confident with those who educate them and more likely to refer such a clinician to others.

online therapy jobs

5 Ways Therapists Can Maximize Their Online Therapy Jobs

If your client has never been in mental health therapy before, the experience can be daunting,
mysterious, and perhaps even frightening.  She may wonder, what do you talk about? Is she allowed to be completely honest? How long will it take to get better?  Those with online therapy jobs can be very helpful, right from the onset of therapy by following some simple rules.

1. Have an Order of Operations

Although it may seem awkward, it is best for those with online therapy jobs to handle all of the business at the session’s beginning.  The “business” includes scheduling, insurance, payment and other technicalities and logistics necessary for the therapy to proceed smoothly.  Otherwise, this may need to be dealt with later at a more sensitive moment with disastrous consequences.

Then the clinician should inquire about any issues the client may be having with the therapist. Leaving these unresolved may impact any future clinical effectiveness.  If the previous session ended with a question or concern, this must be addressed before proceeding.  Believe it or not, often when the client confronts the clinician, this strengthens the therapeutic bond.

2. Encourage Your Client To See The Session as a Collaborative Effort

Effective therapy is an interactive process. The client needs to be helped to participate as much as possible.  Encourage your client to ask questions during the session, and after the session to “do the homework” and take the supplementary reading seriously.

3. Create Comfort and Be Poised to Exploit Opportunity

Those with online therapy jobs need to constantly encourage their clients to express themselves without inhibition, as this is the best way to ensure long-term progress.  Your client needs to be relieved of the fear of appearing impolite or of your negative judgment.  A successful client is not one who is always behaving, but rather one who is exerting herself to be genuine and real.

You will often find that the client’s deeper issues will become revealed inadvertently in the course of the session.  These “revelations” can be of great therapeutic benefit as it will allow you, the therapist, to identify the problem in experiential rather than conceptual terms.  Once you can connect with the client in this way, it is often easier to suggest ideas and teach necessary skills.

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4. Help Your Client to Set Markers for Change

It is crucial that the clinician helps the client establish attainable goals with clear markers along the way.  Tracking progress will motivate and energize the client.  These aims and markers can be in most any realm––be it attitudinal, emotional or behavioral.  The markers are like signs on the highway: they indicate your direction and are constantly reinforcing the forward movement.

5. Help Your Client Beyond the Sessions

There is work for your client to do between sessions.  While a typical session lasts less than an hour, the client’s mentality needs to be that the therapeutic process is 24/7. Journals can be very helpful in this regard, as they help the client pay attention to their thoughts and feelings throughout the week, encourage reflection of the previous session, and help prepare for the next.

On a related note, it is imperative that your client “protect” the therapeutic process by drawing boundaries as to with whom she will share. The key is to avoid communicating with those who increase stress, offer unhelpful advice, or reduce the trust and confidence in the therapist.  If the client isn’t careful, your job may not only become more complicated, but undermined completely.

The Dual Role of Those with Online Therapy Jobs

Those who heal others through their online therapy jobs need to see their role as going beyond being an excellent therapist. They need to help their client become amazing in her role as well.