Updated: Mar 25, 2021
Teletherapy seemed a daunting novelty at first, but it's become a personal niche. Thinking about a transition from in-person to virtual therapy yourself? Let me share 5 Ways Teletherapy Changed My Life and how it will change yours.
1. Information Technology
Teletherapy is virtual therapy on a computer that occurs across space and time. That in itself is drastically different than traditional, in-person speech-language therapy. When I completed my masters degree in 2014, the most exposure to telehealth that I’d encountered in my graduate program was one or two conversations in a professional issues course. Now, I’d consider teletherapy a personal niche.
Transitioning from providing in-person to virtual therapy required many adjustments and new areas of expertise. I was expected to be able to answer all the tech questions like...
“Why is my mic not working?”
“Why is there a huge video transmission delay?”
“Should I be using WiFi or an ethernet cable connection?”
“Why does a specific internet browser matter?”
Answering these types of questions quickly became a daily event. I was looked upon as the expert because I was the one providing services. So, of all the changes I made as a teletherapy service provider, becoming tech savvy was essential.
2. Communication and Collaboration
One of the well-known and researched barriers for teletherapy is the lack of physicality in a therapy session. If a child with an articulation disorder is working on /r/, I can’t give a tactile cue for correct placement. If a child leaves the computer area, I can’t run after him or her and use various techniques to lure them back to the designated therapy area, much less have control over the environmental set up in the first place.
Because of this physical barrier, teletherapy has changed the way I communicate with students and collaborate with their parents and learning coaches.
Just as examples, I’ve been able to empower students in independence by teaching them to use their own hands for tactile cues. And I’ve found they learn correct placements as fast or faster this way! I’ve been able to empower parents and learning coaches through education on environment set up that is more conducive to learning. Depending on the involvement of the parent or learning coach, I’ve also been able to provide frequent updates on progress as well as consistent home carryover programs. After three years of being a virtual SLP, I can say without a doubt, I’m a better communicator with students and collaborator with parents.
All SLPs are great multitaskers. You have to juggle therapy performance, behavior modification, data collection, and goal tracking all at the same time. But as a virtual SLP, multitasking takes on a whole new set of tasks. Sitting at a computer when providing teletherapy services means instant access to email and texts, where parents can communicate technology difficulties, requests for assistance, cancellations and reschedules at any moment. Plus, the very nature of teletherapy means there may be multiple modes of communication simultaneously ongoing in a session such as a mic, chatbox, classroom tools, polling responses, and emojis.
It's a steep mountain of a learning curve, but you can climb it with the right mindset and tools.
4. Military Life
Teletherapy has lent me the stability and longevity of holding a single SLP position for three years now, despite three moves across three different states. This is by far the most PRACTICAL way teletherapy has changed my life.
THREE moves. THREE states.
As a virtual SLP, that equals THREE different licenses. Period.
Know what it doesn’t equal?
THREE GAZILLION resumes sent out. THREE THOUSAND interviews.
THREE different positions.
The latter equation is why I hope that as long as I’m a military spouse, I’ll always be a virtual SLP!
5. Wife and Mom
Finally, we come to the BEST way teletherapy has changed my life: being a wife and mom.
The flexibility of a virtual SLP life is night and day compared to in-person services provided in a private practice or brick-and-mortar school. There’s zero to minimal commute—and I say minimal only because I cart my children to daycare and back. There’s time during the regular work day for speech-work and house-work. For me, that’s translated to more quality time with my husband and children in the late afternoons, evenings, and weekends.
Honestly, I don't know that I'll ever go back to being an in-person SLP. I love what I do and I love what it means long-term for my life and family.
-Angela Hancock, MSP, CCC-SLP
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