Myths About Teletherapy Exposed: Part I
Despite the growing practice of speech teletherapy, there continues to be several “misconceptions” swirling around this increasingly popular service delivery model in our field.
Whether these opinions are substantiated with FACT, or simply generated from FEAR, is yet to be determined.
However, I can see how even the most educated of professionals might assume that receiving ANY kind of therapy (medical, counseling, PT or OT) via the internet would “water it down”. Providing a therapeutic service for communication disorders certainly would appear, well...odd. Communication is so complex. Shouldn’t the technology be a barrier, rather than a bridge? Well, I’m starting a 3- part series to break down the most common myths about speech teletherapy.
Myth #1: “My students don’t need ANY more screen time”.
Every teacher and professional would agree that students spent way too much time in front of “screens”. Whether the child is passively watching television, playing video games, or playing on apps on mom’s phone, most kids are always “connected” via the internet.
However, teletherapy as a therapeutic service is dynamic and reciprocal. Although different from sitting across a table from one another, teletherapy still allows for transmission of facial expression, tone of voice, body language, humor and most importantly, human connection. When a child plays an app, or watches a 30 minute video, their communication is static. Nothing communicative is required on the part of the child, except watching and listening. They are not engaged with a communicative partner, who is watching, waiting and listening for a reciprocal human connection. While a screen is necessary for the audio and video transmission, it’s merely a window. And that window connects you to another human, who is passionately waiting to build a bond with you. Teletherapy is not simply “another screen”.
Myth #2: "Research has shown that teletherapy is ineffective".
This statement is completely false. There is no research to suggest that speech teletherapy is ineffective. Every research article that has every been published on teletherapy has demonstrated that, as a service delivery model, it can be just as effective, if not MORE effective, than traditional face-to-face therapy. ASHA supports the delivery model, and has now devoted an entire Special Interest Group to provide collaboration, and encourage more research.
Are there students who are not good candidates for teletherapy? Yes. As a professional, I would agree that certain students may not benefit from teletherapy as a service delivery model. However, research has not been conducted on such student populations. Yet.
My own two cents? After being a school-based SLP for 18 years, I personally feel that this service delivery model is highly beneficial.
My students are highly engaged as a result of the technology.
95% or more of scheduled sessions are provided because I no longer have meetings or drama to interfere
Therapy is 1:1 or 2:1, which was unheard of in my public school setting
These 3 reasons above have paved the way for more dismissals from service. Ineffective? My personal experience is NO.