SLP Clinic Moves Into New Territory with Teletherapy
by Sara Grace Davis
COVID19 forced most of our MSHC operations in online in mid-March 2020. Thankfully, telehealth is more viable as a medium for providing services in Speech Language Pathology than in some related disciplines. Still, rapidly moving to telepractice has required an enormous team effort from the SLP clinical faculty and clinical students this spring. To find out more about how the telehealth transition has gone, we spoke with Marilyn Wark, the Director of Clinical Services in Speech-Language Pathology and some of our clinical faculty.
Q: How has teletherapy been going for the faculty, students and clients this semester?
A: The clients have generally enjoyed getting to continue with therapy online. Our younger clients' attention spans dictate how long they can be meaningfully engaged in a Zoom therapy session. We'll be finding out more about how it works for our older patients this summer as we take Aphasia bootcamp online.
The supervisors have found that they really enjoy providing supervision through Zoom because teletherapy requires 100% supervision of students. So, they are getting to spend more time providing direct feedback to students during clinic. Furthermore, they have found the chat feature to be an excellent mechanism for providing 'in the moment' feedback to students in a way that does not interrupt the session or distract the client. We plan to continue to use teletherapy during the summer semester even though we will bring some of our patients who are more difficult to evaluate remotely on site. Even though our experiences with teletherapy have been positive, it is a demanding format for the students and clinicians.
Q: How were students involved in helping the SLP clinicians transfer to teletherapy sessions?
A: The students and faculty did research on the internet to learn about best practices in teletherapy and to help develop ideas for therapy sessions. Dr. Eichorn also provided some great references for teletherapy. We have built a repository for future use in a shared digital location. The clinical faculty have discovered how to work with green screen images for therapy activities, to adapt iPads and iPhones as document cameras for diagnostics and with AAC users, and to conduct group therapy sessions. Overall, I have been extremely pleased with how quickly everyone was able to transition to telehealth and impressed with their creativity.