Due to the recent changes in our country due to COVID-19, you may now be seeing words such as “telehealth”, “virtual sessions”, “telepractice” and “teletherapy” associated with many businesses. For some, these are familiar concepts and terms. But for others, they are completely foreign, which begs the question: What is teletherapy? How does it relate to speech therapy?
Teletherapy allows a therapist to provide speech therapy services to a student/client via use of technology (laptop, iPad). This model allows therapists to reach their clientele regardless of the distance. Prior to COVID-19, therapists were treating clients via teletherapy in places that had a shortage of Speech Language Pathologists or in very rural areas where speech and language therapy was not easily accessible. Teletherapy enables speech therapists to treat clients from the other side of the country, and also, the other side of the world! If you’ve looked on my website, you’ll see that I am licensed in California. Many people ask why, and it’s because I have been providing speech therapy services to children in schools via teletherapy in California since 2017!
Teletherapy is not a new concept. It has been used in the delivery of speech therapy dating back to the 90’s. Teletherapy has been recognized by the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA), which is the national organization for Speech Language Pathologists since 2005. We are just now hearing so much about it given the circumstances we are all facing and everyone's dire need to learn how to use it.
Teletherapy is just as effective as in-person therapy. There are many perks to teletherapy such as not having to leave your home, less drive time, not having to cancel visits because your other children may be sick, and not to mention, kids LOVE technology! What better way to keep them engaged!? Speech therapy evaluations can also be done via teletherapy!
One thing that you need to keep in mind when considering teletherapy is licensing requirements. You want to be sure that the therapist is licensed in the state in which they live or provide teletherapy services from as well as the state their client is currently in. Notice I said “currently in”. The therapist should be licensed in the state in which the client lives in but during the summer or during vacations, families travel and want to continue their speech therapy services! It is important to let your therapist know that you are traveling because if they are not licensed in the state you are traveling to then they cannot legally provide services. If you do not tell them, you could be putting their professional license at risk.
The other thing you need to consider when receiving services via teletherapy is that your therapist uses a HIPAA compliant platform to maintain your privacy and confidentiality. Some therapists/practices will use the free versions offered by some companies but they are not HIPAA compliant. Be sure to ask your therapist this important question so your information can remain protected.
WHAT DOES TELETHERAPY LOOK LIKE?
Therapists use a variety of models to engage children in therapy via technology. Therapists may use interactive worksheets, digital flashcards, kid-friendly websites or their very own toys to engage clients in speech therapy sessions. Believe it or not, kids can even play beloved board games such as "Candyland" or "Chutes and Ladders" via teletherapy! For children 5 and up, they can typically sit at the laptop or iPad and remain engaged with the therapist with minimal parent supervision. For younger children, therapists often use a “parent-coaching” model in which we discuss with the parents how to incorporate language strategies into different activities and routines that occur throughout the day in your typical everyday life.
IS TELETHERAPY RIGHT FOR MY CHILD?
This is a difficult question to answer. Not every child is appropriate for teletherapy as it is not a one size fits all model. That being said, inquire and give it a try! You won’t know until you try it. Just because you don’t think your child will be successful doesn’t mean they won’t be. You may be surprised! Talk with your therapist before deciding either way.
IS IT COVERED BY INSURANCE?
Every insurance company is different. Some companies cover teletherapy and some do not. Be sure to check with your insurance provider prior to moving forward with sessions.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT TELETHERAPY?
At For Goodness Speech, LLC, I offer speech language sessions online via teletherapy for all ages. For more information on the services I provide, click here. If you are worried your child may have a language delay or about your child’s lack of speech services during this time, contact me! If you have additional questions about teletherapy, also feel free to reach out! Visit my website www.forgoodnessspeech.com or email me here for more information!
Welcome! My name is Ashley Maturo and I am a licensed Speech Language Pathologist. I own a private practice and work with children with a variety of speech and language delays and disorders. I also create digital resources for Speech Language Pathologists!