Is SLP Resistance to Teletherapy Reasonable?

Believe it or not, tons of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are now falling in love with the idea of teletherapy and telepractice, and are looking for ways to perform online speech therapy. While the movement was growing prior to the pandemic, over the past year, both the interest in, and the migration to teletherapy have literally exploded.

And even with all of the growth, there are yet greater numbers of clients who would prefer teletherapy, as studies show that 78% of patients actually embrace virtual services. This gap in supply and demand begs the question: why aren’t more SLPs offering their services virtually, especially in a time like this? Why are they resisting?

Much of the resistance to teletherapy by SLPs is because SLPs lack the confidence to express to their clients that teletherapy can be just as effective as in-person services. And yet studies show that teletherapy is just as effective as traditional, in-person therapy and this $6 billion dollar industry will only continue to expand.

If SLPs would become more familiar with the evidence that teletherapy is highly effective, this would certainly be key in reducing the resistance. But aside from emboldening SLPs with this awareness, SLPs need to better understand how beneficial it will be for their personal and professional lives. They need to grasp why so many fellow SLPs are making the switch that has proved to be transformational.

Why SLPs are Embracing Teletherapy

1. Convenience

Teletherapy enables clients and therapists to carry out their sessions without needing to be physically in the same space. On the most basic level, this certainly solves the challenge of traveling long distances to meet with clients. But the convenience of teletherapy goes far beyond that.

As long as they are licensed in their state as well as the client’s, SLPs can perform clinical sessions from wherever and whenever they’d like. Think about it: you make an arrangement to meet with the client at a specified time, and then you and the client connect at the click of a button. It’s that easy. And what could be more convenient?

2. Flexibility

Implementing teletherapy into your SLP practice is a highly effective way to maximize your time and enjoy more flexibility in your daily life. SLPs who utilize teletherapy extensively have the capacity to accommodate a broader range of appointment times, and can also reduce transition times between clients, compared with those who meet clients face-to-face.

This increased flexibility also allows therapy sessions to be scheduled at unconventional times because you no longer need to meet your client in the office. While offering sessions after hours isn’t necessarily a goal for many SLPs, having the option to be able to do effective teletherapy sessions without using the time to commute between sessions or wait at the office during gaps can be extremely beneficial.

And when the obstacles of time and place are eliminated, such as needing to be physically present for an appointment, this frees up more time and energy for you and your clients to focus on their progress.

Aside from your client’s benefits, as a therapist, you will benefit as well. With flexibility and freedom, teletherapy allows you to make your own health and well-being a priority, which will create a positive ripple effect in all areas of your life, both professionally and personally.

And performing teletherapy opens the door to a better work-life balance for SLPs, especially regarding their families. With a more flexible schedule, you have greater freedom in prioritizing your commitments, and determining what your days look like. This freedom will impact your well-being, give you more peace of mind, and allow you to more effectively navigate the schedules of your entire family.

There is one caveat, however. As long as appointments are kept and productivity is maintained or even increased, it will be difficult to argue against having more flexibility.

But there is a flip side to flexibility; that freedom carries with it the risk of becoming too relaxed and perhaps even sloppy with your time. You need to find the ways that you work best at home, can stay on task, remain disciplined, and make sure that you show up to all appointments promptly and properly prepared.

3. Eliminate Commuting Hassles

After a long and tiring day at work, the last thing you want is a long commute home. In fact, your commute is usually ranked as one of the most essential factors regarding overall satisfaction with where one lives.

Battling daily traffic, lengthy commutes, and other driving-related stresses are bound to take a toll on your mental health and happiness over time. Teletherapy is the simplest and quickest way to eliminate all of these commute-related challenges, freeing you up to invest your time, energy, and mental bandwidth on more important areas, such as your patients’ progress and your quality of life.

4. Comfort

Unfettered access to your own facilities, refrigerator, and other creature comforts throughout the day can be more beneficial than you think. You aren’t as likely to go out to lunch or binge on vending machine snacks throughout the day, which will result in a healthier diet — which means that you will feel better.

Working from your home is enjoying the freedom to take a power nap, fit in a quick workout, listen to the music that you love, open up a window, or take a walk out in the fresh air. Your work performance will improve when you are comfortable, and some of those distractions of discomfort are removed.

5. Increased Efficiency Leads to Professional Advancement

The new norms post COVID-19 demand that SLPs distinguish themselves by being dedicated to self-educating, growing, and staying up-to-date with the latest developments in their field. It’s crucial as ever to stay on top of innovations and continually develop and sharpen professional skills.

Because teletherapy promotes greater efficiency, SLPs who incorporate it into their practice are poised to dedicate more time to their education and professional advancement.

Hard to Make up Your Mind?

While incorporating teletherapy into your weekly caseload may initially seem intimidating, the reasons to hesitate are often exaggerated. And the benefits are plentiful for both you and your clients. It behooves you to carefully weigh the pros and cons of incorporating teletherapy into your practice. Because it may very well be that, once you make that fateful decision, you will never look back!