On many levels, being a teletherapist is VERY similar to being an SLP who provides face to face (F2F) services. If you've read my previous blog posts, you know that I make many comparisons between the two service delivery models. I want Speech Pathologists to stop being intimidated by telepractice, and give it a try if their heart is leading them to it.
However, with much certainty, there are differences between us TeleSLPs and traditional therapists. Good differences.
Let me explain.....
I've identified 6 things that TeleSLPs do differently than our traditional counterparts. And I think you'll find it interesting.
TeleSLPs keep flash drives and bookmarks, instead of shelves and metal cabinets. Our storage for therapy materials is almost exclusively digital. We bookmark our favorite websites on our MacBooks, and keep digital folders designed for quick retrieval. We no longer have use for colored space savers and rolling carts. But rather, collect apps and NO PRINT resources like the other SLPs collect items from the Target Dollar Store bins. Nope. We don't need them. And after a few years of providing virtual services, we realize it's time to clean out that storage unit we've been paying for, because we've "kept" way too much, just in case. Everything we need it within an arms length.
TeleSLPs stretch. And stretch often. Gone are the days where we spent our time climbing staircases to grab clients from classrooms or hospital beds. I remember those days when my FitBit claimed I walked 3 miles in a pair of kitten heels before I even made dinner. Now, I need to S-T-R-E-T-C-H. We own foam rollers and ergonomic devices you've probably never seen. I know so many yoga poses I could probably get certified. It's easy for our bodies to become tense with longer hours of sitting and screen time. While I used to complain about all of that walking, I really miss getting up and out of my chair so often.
TeleSLPs spend time doing equipment checks, instead of bus duty. My mornings routinely involve troubleshooting my headset, my computer, my monitor, my microphone and my bandwidth. When I'm done, I need to check my client's technology. All. Day. Long. Often, my day can start without a glitch. But, a simple thing like my cats deciding to play tug of war on my desk, can loosen a wire, or knock loose a plug, which can turn my day upside down. We spend a lot of time preparing our tech for the day, instead of standing in the elements for bus arrival.
TeleSLPs host offices with ZERO boundaries. I mean ZERO. I know therapists who work from their boat off the coast. I have friends who host sessions from their campers and Airstreams. If we go on vacation, and need to make up a session, we can grab our laptop and provide services from our condo in Hawaii. I've heard and seen it all. Most of us have spent many years trapped in tiny offices, previously home to janitorial staff. No fresh air. No natural light. Not any more. In fact, I often think we go out of our WAY to provide the most amazing backgrounds and scenery for our clients so OUR experience, can be THEIR experience. And having no limit to where we can go, we gladly take that challenge.
TeleSLPs know their WORDS are KING. You see, we don't have the ability to use our hands in therapy. This creates a situation where we become VERY proficient at using our words to control every nuance of treatment. We need to be good at explaining placement cues for articulation and controlling unwanted behaviors. We choose semantics wisely when describing carryover activities for spouses, parents and teachers. When we are lucky enough to have a pair of competent hands next to our client, we have to be gifted enough to explain to a general layperson HOW to be US. And as challenging as it can be, we are GOOD at it.
TeleSLPs love their clients from far off distances. We don't get to hug our students or patients. We can't give them a physical "high five". We don't get to touch their hand or shoulder to give them comfort or reassurance. But we DO still love them. We find new ways of showing appreciation, care and concern, like sending encouraging emails, or an eCard on their birthday. We welcome our clients into our "personal" world, by introducing our cats, our husbands, and our children, which fosters a strong rapport and sense of trust. We share photos of artwork, vacations and hobbies. I personally allow my students to participate in "Show and Tell" activities frequently, so they know I care about their interests and their lives outside of therapy. However, I do still lay awake thinking about them at night, like you do.
Interested in becoming a TeleSLP? If you think that telepractice might be for you (you know you want an Airstream.....), then check out my quiz! I've designed a tool to help you decide if teletherapy is right for YOU.
Thinking you'd like to try some digital NO PRINT materials? I create products that can be used directly on your iPad or smart board. Head over to my TpT store if you'd like to incorporate some digital materials into your SLP toolbox!