Is Teletherapy a Good Option for Speech Therapists and Students?

Demand for speech therapists has never been higher, but there is an unfortunate shortage ofqualified therapists. Remote, rural, and disadvantaged areas feel the crunch worst of all. Finding aspeech therapist willing to travel to these areas, let alone move there for fulltimeassignment isincreasingly rare. Worse, you may not always get the most qualified candidate for such anoncompetitiveposition.

This shortage is objectively a problem, and some speech therapists think they have the solution:teletherapy. By conducting speech therapy sessions remotely over the internet, speech therapystudents can get access to highly qualified speech therapists fairly easily. But not everyone iscertain that remote speech therapy sessions are effective compared to other options, like travellingspeech therapist jobs or temporary speech therapist staffing.

So, while the prospect of remote speech therapy is exciting to some, others advise caution sincethe method is still untested. Positive outcomes seem to indicate that the two can somehow meet inthe middle, with regulated therapy and established bestpracticesfor teletherapy sessions that canbe refined over time.

Teletherapy One Solution to an Increasingly Pressing Problem

The National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Servicesreports that 47 percent of speech language pathologists are shorthandedin their schools. Around18 percent of children receiving special education and similar services under IDEA Part B haveissues with speech or language impairments, says the U.S. Department of Education.

Such a mismatch can have dramatic consequences not just for affected individuals, but for societyat large. Children who grow up without access to needed speech therapy often end up havingfewer opportunities and a significantly lowered quality of life .

Teletherapy seeks to alleviate this problem. Students can log onto their computers at an appointedtime and see their speech therapist pop up through a video window in front of them. Through amicrophone and headphones, both the therapist and the student can see and hear each other.The student has access to both physical aids and digital study materials they can access on thecomputer.

Through this arrangement, many speech therapists and school districts have found a lot ofproductivity. One Director of Pupil Services in California noted how teletherapy services helpedreduce one of their instructor’s case loads from 85 to 60 . That is a significant reduction, and it canhelp improve the quality of instruction each student gets. Furthermore, teletherapy can open upjob opportunities for therapists who do not wish to travel or who only work part time.

Possible Drawbacks Compared to a Permanent Position or aTemp From a Therapist Staffing Agency

While there are plenty of positive outcomes to point to with teletherapy, it is not a perfect solutionfor everybody. The American Psychological Association (APA) notes how not every therapist mayhave the skills to effectively conduct their practice over the internet. “Practicing with distancetherapies actually raises the bar, because you also need to be competent in the media you'reusing,” observes Jeffrey Barnett, a professor of psychology at Loyola.

Additional concerns include the lack of predictability of technology. If technology issues arise,sometimes sessions have to be cancelled and the therapist is unable to bill for that session.

Other times, the children have trouble focusing on the computer screen as they would on an adultinstructor. “Sometimes I feel ineffective in getting a kid back on track,” observes one SLP blogger .“If a kid is really squiggly or unmotivated, you can’t really follow them around the house/school ifthey walk away from the camera.”

On the other hand, students with autism have responded positively to teletherapy, which they canperform in a familiar environment and with less stimulation.In the end, teletherapy clearly works for some situations and has generated some positiveoutcomes so far, but it is safe to say that more study is needed before it can be practicedeffectively in all situations.

If you are looking for a speech therapist for a temporary or permanent assignment at yourinstitution, you can consider a therapist staffing agency as a possible alternative to startingteletherapy program.

Meta: Find the best speech therapy jobs possible while using your smarts and personal resources to increase your chances of landing the job that is right for you.KWs: speech therapy jobsMeta: Weigh the pros and cons of teletherapy, a form of remote speech therapy for students, andhow it compares to alternatives like a therapist staffing agency.KWs: therapist staffing agency

BlogRey Rivera