Providing speech/language therapy services presents its own set of challenges as does any career. The age of the client, the disorders exhibited, the modalities impacted, and the attention level exhibited are some of the hurdles that can stand in the way of clients making steady progress toward their goals. The training we, as Speech/Language Pathologists, receive prepares us to be flexible thinkers, allowing us to clear those hurdles as they emerge. Add another level of complexity to this scenario by providing the services via telepractice. What are the expectations for Speech/Language Pathologists providing telepractice services? What should you, as an SLP, know before applying for a position that requires knowledge about this type of service delivery model?
When asked what type of information SLPs felt they were missing when beginning to provide telepractice services, the answers varied. From asking for available online resources, engagement strategies, how to begin the process of providing telepractice, interventions in telepractice, resources for evaluations, technology-based reinforcement, as well as how to treat various speech/language disorders; it appeared that the respondents were looking for information they could easily find themselves or should already know from their academic training. Reading through the responses, it was surprising to see requests for information that is readily available if one were to do a bit of searching on the Internet (e.g., Telepractice social media groups) and/or through ASHA’s SIG18: Telepractice Practice Portal.
Telepractice is remarkably similar to in-person therapy, and because of this, each clinician should use their available resources as well as their resourcefulness to develop a materials library for telepractice. Using hard-copy materials you have available (for in-person therapy) for telepractice is as easy as plugging a document camera into your computer and then “screen-sharing” the material (allowing your client to view it). You could also scan the material into your computer and save it as a .pdf file to screen-share. To find online materials, one only needs to perform a “Google” search using the phrase, “Educational games for kids,” or “Educational online resources for students.” It takes some time to go through and explore the different resources, but as you find ones you like, bookmark that site and save it. Be creative. Ask yourself what you would do or what materials you would use if you were going to work with a client in person. Most likely, the materials can be adapted for telepractice.
Reaching out to colleagues is another way to find helpful information. Whether searching for topics on ASHA’s SIG18 Telepractice Practice Portal, the Telepractice Community Forum, or specific social media groups, people are willing to share their information and expertise. If you are new to telepractice and are wondering where to begin, perform an Internet search. There are many blog posts by companies and practitioners that will point the way. By being willing to do the footwork yourself, you are better able to assimilate what you learn along the way. After all, if someone were to give you the answers to a test, would you still study? Would you take the time to learn the information? The same holds true here. Take some time to investigate, read blog posts/articles about telepractice, and take continuing education credits. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you learn (and retain) along the way.!