Despite the accelerating growth of teletherapy across the country, there are still therapists who hesitate to consider it. For some, this may be an aversion to technology or change. However, for others that hesitation is grounded in serious questions about virtual therapy. While the first group will benefit, it is to the second group that this blog is written.
1. Does Teletherapy enhance the performance of the therapist?
While some therapists are comfortable with the traditional and wouldn’t consider anything but delivering therapy face to face, others are beginning to appreciate the benefits of online therapy. The convenience of working from home and the elimination of travel time makes for a more relaxed, focus therapist. Imagine the impact on performance.
2. Are there specific challenges regarding the teletherapy setting?
It goes without saying that there are rural school districts that have a poor internet connection. This may cause the video or audio to be jumpy and erratic. However federal legislation has recently been approved that promises to solve this problem. But there are potential client engagement issues with remote therapy also. See my previous blog for tactics and strategies to solve these problems as well.
3. Is there any specific clientele for whom teletherapy is not a good fit
Despite the many benefits of teletherapy, like everything else, it isn’t for everyone. Before suggesting online therapy as the modality of choice, the therapist should ask the following questions, which may indeed disqualify some:
Does the child have the motor control required to access and interact online?
Will the child’s hearing adversely impact the session?
Is behavior an issue, and if so, is there an adult available to assist?
What is the child’s cognitive capacity to understand and follow instruction?
Perhaps these questions will spawn others as well. Bottom line, determine in advance if teletherapy will benefit this particular child!
4. Can you perform teletherapy while living or traveling abroad?
From a purely technical standpoint all you need for remote therapy is a high-speed internet, a webcam, and a headset for high-quality audio. So as long as you can find that internet connection, be it G5 or wifi, you are good to go. But remember that streaming video takes considerable bandwidth, so don’t assume any wifi connection will be sufficient. Going abroad, don’t forget to consider the time zone differential. Otherwise, why not?
5. Is teletherapy as rewarding as traditional face to face therapy?
If you like helping children, then you need to consider the following. Your actual enjoyment in the session may feel a bit more “remote” in an online therapy session, but keep in mind that you may be helping a child who would not receive services at all if it wasn’t for teletherapy. Alternatively, you may feel isolated working on your own. Before taking the plunge, perhaps you need to consider the “bigger picture.”
The benefits and rewards are many. For some, the trade-off with traditional face to face therapy may boil to economics or opportunity, and for others, personality. Keep one thing in mind. Teletherapy is here to stay, and as the technology is perfected its market share will continue to grow. It may behoove you to find your place in it.