How Online Therapy Works
Online therapy sessions such as online speech therapy are very similar to traditional therapy sessions, with one major exception. Instead of sitting in the same room, students and therapists interact via high-resolution live video conferencing. And as the usage of telemedicine continues to rise in general, in addition to the impetus generated by COVID-19, online therapy has become mainstream.
During therapy sessions, the student and therapist can see, hear, and interact with an online therapist in real-time, using webcams, headsets, and a live, synchronous online learning environment. Most people are already using similar technology in business, in education, and in their personal lives.
Perhaps online therapy’s greatest advantage is that it is highly engaging for today’s students. By utilizing fun and employing digital technology, online therapy is exceptionally kid-friendly. Today’s children are very comfortable with computers and love game-based activities such as video interactions and digital learning.
Basic Technical Requirements
Performing online therapy such as online speech therapy requires using an external webcam with a microphone. If you purchased a computer recently, a video camera and microphone are already built into the computer. If you use Zoom (which is a simple and effective option), you don’t need to worry about any setup as the platform will work automatically with your computer.
Internet Speed For Online Therapy
The other essential requirement for performing online therapy is that you should have the fastest internet connection possible. Generally speaking, Zoom works well over WiFi. However, if you are using either a mobile hotspot or your cell phone’s data plan to connect to the internet, you must be on a 4G network.
If the internet service in your office or at home is too slow, it is preferable to bypass the WiFi and hardwire a connection from your computer to the WiFi using an ethernet cable or private network.
Tips to Enhance your Online Therapy
Be sure to learn how to use the platform in advance. If necessary, practice with family members or friends before your first session with your client online.
Become familiar with the technical requirements of the platform. This includes minimum internet speed and other technicalities to assure your session goes smoothly.
Learn some of the essential troubleshooting tips such as how to select the appropriate microphone and sound adjustment in the settings.
Both you and your client should refrain from using any other video tools (such as Skype) to ensure that the videoconferencing platform works appropriately (otherwise you will not see each other).
Turn off all updates and software installments during the session and ask your client to do the same, to avoid slowing the connection.
Assure that no one in your client’s house is streaming videos (such as Netflix) or playing online games during the session, as it slows the connection.
Both you and your client should close all browsers and websites during the meeting, especially sites with online games, to avoid slowing down the connection.
Keeping your background as minimal as possible will both limit distractions and improve the focus of your cameras.
When it comes to clothing, it is best to wear solid-color shirts (pastel or jewel tones) and avoid overly bright colors — shirts that are either very bright or have busy patterns such as stripes can create a distracting optical illusion.
Please stay away from wearing shiny or noisy jewelry, as it can become very distracting.
Do your best to limit any background noise such as fans, phones, and barking dogs, etc..
If you will be using headphones during the session, it is best to select headphones with a background-noise canceling feature.
If you intend to screen-share websites during the session, it is vital to review those beforehand, as often websites and online games can contain ads that are either inappropriate or distracting. An ad blocker can be a helpful option.
Be sure to sit far enough away from the computer so that your chest, shoulders, and head are visible; and remember to look into the camera so that you are looking directly at your client.
Consider restarting your computer at the beginning or end of the day to mitigate any interruptions or glitches, and encourage your client to do the same.
You can often quickly resolve technical issues by restarting your computers during the session.
Help Your Students Cope with the Crisis
The response to the COVID-19 Pandemic is unprecedented. Because of our unique role in children’s K-12 education including online speech therapy, we feel a responsibility to do what we can to assist schools, therapists, and students with this transition to online learning and seclusion. To ensure that our students remain engaged and supported, our therapists are providing complimentary “Support Sessions” to the country’s youth. We are also assisting schools by training their therapists for remote therapy.
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