TherapyWorks: Effective Teletherapy for Pediatric Speech and Occupational Therapies
At TherapyWorks, we have a strong track record of positive treatment outcomes. Prior to COVID-19, we were primarily focused on in-person therapy, however, in early March we pivoted the focus of our service delivery to teletherapy. While we knew that research had shown teletherapy to be effective*, we were anxious to measure our own clients’ outcomes to determine whether teletherapy treatment would be as effective as in-person therapy. As we approach fall 2020, teletherapy has proven to be not only effective but also preferable for many of our clients.
Before diving into the effectiveness of teletherapy, we would like to introduce those of you who are not familiar with TherapyWorks to how our model is different from a traditional pediatric practice. We have built a unique and extensive network of highly specialized, experienced pediatric therapists that would not otherwise be available to treat privately. How did we do this? We created a flexible, per diem job option for our therapists. With the rise of the “gig economy” in the US, we realized that bringing this work option to the pediatric therapy world would give our clients access to highly specialized therapists that would not otherwise have the opportunity to treat private clients. TherapyWorks has built a large network of therapists with a variety of backgrounds, all of whom hold a masters or doctorate degree in their field. Our extensive talent pool enables us to thoughtfully match each child with a therapist that has the right training and experience based on that child’s specific needs. The result is effective, successful therapy.
Our primary service delivery model prior to COVID, was in-person and our model proved successful. Once COVID hit, the transition for our elementary, middle, and high school aged clients with speech sound, language, fine motor, handwriting, or reading needs was seamless. These sessions typically involve seated, face-to-face interactions. Teletherapy feels very much the same as an in-person session. In order to provide digital materials during sessions, we partnered with Boom Learning, a company that provides digital therapy materials for teletherapy. Through screen sharing, our therapists are easily able to present materials to their clients that they used in person. In addition, we were able to continue assessments through Pearson’s Q-Global digital assessment tools.
For our toddler and preschool aged clients as well as our occupational therapy clients with sensory processing needs, we had to be more creative in planning for teletherapy. Research indicates that providing services via teletherapy is as effective as in person treatment, especially when it includes a parent collaboration and coaching model (Camden, C, Pratte, G, et al. (2019). Armed with this research, we have focused on collaboration and caregiver coaching for all of our clients. We’ve found that, by using this approach, parents are empowered and effective allies in their child’s treatment. The strategies learned in teletherapy sessions are implemented in day to day routines. Home practice programs are easily implemented using the tools and household items we’ve gathered for therapy sessions.
While there are some challenges with teletherapy on occasion (i.e. issues with technology or internet connectivity), we’ve found that the benefits largely outweigh the difficulties. We plan to continue teletherapy even after it is safe to return to in-person sessions.
If you’re unsure whether teletherapy will work for your child, we would be happy to set up a free phone consultation. If you’re ready to get started, click the link below and we’ll match your child with a therapist based on their unique needs.
* (1) The Efficacy of Telehealth-Delivered Speech and Language Intervention for Primary School-Age Children: A Systematic Review
(2) Evidence for the Use of Telehealth in Pediatric Occupational Therapy Sheryl Eckberg Zylstra MS OTR/L Pages 326-355 | Received 26 Jan 2013, Accepted 15 Aug 2013, Published online: 18 Dec 2013