What is Teletherapy?
Families are keeping their therapies consistent during the COVID-19 pandemic using teletherapy, the delivery of therapeutic services through a technology platform such as Zoom. Teletherapy was gaining steam even before the pandemic, and has been established as an effective model for therapy by AOTA, which governs occupational therapy, and ASHA, which governs speech therapy. Teletherapy is currently being widely used by schools, physicians, psychologists, and therapists in an effort to continue meeting the needs of students and clients.
5 benefits of Teletherapy:
Staying healthy: Teletherapy allows for the necessary distance between therapist and client to ensure a safe environment, which is currently the top priority. Therapists and clients can interact without anxiety around protective gear or potential for spread of the coronavirus.
Staying connected: Even without in-person sessions, clients can continue to connect with their therapists and maintain the vital client-therapist relationship. This is especially important to developmental therapies with young children, who depend on the consistency of adults in their lives. Group sessions allow for children to check in with peers as well.
Continued progress: Clients can continue to make progress toward their therapeutic goals via teletherapy. Therapists are creatively utilizing technology such as virtual backgrounds, screenshare, and interactive websites to engage clients in therapeutic activities and play-based interactions as they would in person.
Home consults: Therapists who do not typically treat in clients’ homes can consult with families about strategies specific to the home’s materials, routines, and family dynamic. For example, a therapist may coach a parent on how to implement therapeutic strategies while playing with their child and a favorite toy from home.
Consistency: Teletherapy allows for clients to maintain a component of their regular weekly routine. It provides structure in the home, particularly for children who benefit from a consistent schedule.
Understanding how to set up Teletherapy:
Creating the right environment is important to the success of teletherapy. A quiet area of the home is ideal, with limited distractions and good lighting. Clients will need a computer or other device with video conferencing technology, as well as a desk/table and chair, and room to move around when necessary. Sessions with children may require a parent present, depending on the child’s age and individual profile.
Teletherapy is here to stay and will continue to expand across many healthcare industries. It has allowed for continuity of treatment and has provided consistency in significantly disrupted lives. Understanding how it works, and its benefits, is critical for teleltherapy to succeed.