Teletherapy… Is It For Me?
With technology becoming more common and electronic devices becoming an everyday part of our lives, it is no wonder this new method of delivering therapy is being introduced. There are billions of devices connected worldwide; while the majority have access to quality internet services. This allows for teletherapy as a viable alternative to face-to-face interactions.
Teletherapy is conducting therapy sessions from a distance through a video conferencing platform in real-time. Many studies have been conducted on this type of therapy and its effectiveness. These studies yield positive client satisfaction, functional outcomes, and the ability to assess and treat successfully. Teletherapy aka telepractice, telehealth, or online therapy is an exciting, evidence-based, effective form of receiving treatment.
In these uncertain times, with the COVID-19 pandemic, studies have shown that teletherapy is a great way to supplement or even replace traditional therapy while still receiving necessary services for you or your family.
Related article: Brain Changes Seen After One Week of Therapy for Stuttering
What is Teletherapy?
Using a computer, laptop, or smart device equipped with a microphone, speaker and webcam allows a new realm of possibilities for therapy services. Teletherapy refers to receiving therapy services 1:1 in your home environment using a video-conferencing platform. Teletherapy looks very similar to face-to-face sessions because they are conducted in real-time with therapist lead activities facilitated by parents or the client themselves. The clinician and the client are able to see and hear each other and work together through lots of goals and activities.
What are the Benefits of Teletherapy?
There are many favourable benefits of teletherapy; many of which may apply to you or your family. Some of these benefits include:
- Delivering services to remote/rural geographic areas
- Allowing underserved communities to access services
- Reducing the potential delay of service
- Increasing efficiency and cost-effectiveness of services
- Meeting the needs of homebound patients or patients with impaired mobility
- Allowing for closer monitoring and follow-up services if needed
- Facilitating carryover of learned skills in the functional home environment
- Improving comfort level and convenience of being in own home
- Ability to include family members and caregivers in the treatment program, education, and training
Does it Work?
Studies have shown that teletherapy is a viable and effective method for providing Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) services. In addition, with communication and technology advancements it allows for secure connections from home.
Evidence has shown no significant difference in raw scores for assessments between teletherapy and face-to-face applications. In fact, the reliability of online ratings is in good standing. Increased camera quality now allows therapists the ability to visibly evaluate speech errors, articulators and muscle movements and have clients imitate movements and positions easily.
Teletherapy is also proven effective for data collection and allows for sessions to be recorded and replayed for critiquing and tracking progress. Lastly, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has provided data through over 40 published, peer-reviewed studies to confirm that online speech therapy services produce outcomes that are as good as face-to-face therapy.
Various teletherapy applications include:
- Learning-difficulties: reading, writing, listening & executive functions
- Concussion/traumatic brain injury & stroke
- Articulation and/or stuttering
- Social communication & verbal expression difficulties
- Oral myofunctional difficulties
- Accent reduction & voice therapy
- Behaviour difficulties
- Parent learning, coaching & support groups
Who Qualifies for Teletherapy?
There are a few things to consider when determining suitability for teletherapy. These include basic computer knowledge, familiarity with internet applications, and basic audiovisual capabilities. There also needs to be a generic skill-set for each client which includes literacy, hearing abilities, visual abilities, and physical endurance to sit for a session. However, with younger children, there may be an option to have a parent or family member aid in the therapy, which may supplement some of these requirements.
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What People are Saying
Patient satisfaction for teletherapy has yielded favourable patient feedback. More specifically, people are enjoying the comfort level of being in their own home to receive services and consider it a more manageable type of treatment.
Patients are reporting a strong connection and rapport with their clinicians despite the physical distance. Others have reported decreased distractibility and increased levels of interest when using a teletherapy platform.
Parents appreciate being more actively involved in therapy and having the opportunities to utilize these strategies in their home environment with their games and toys. Most importantly, research has shown the little ones who are very interested in all types of devices these days, are motivated to engage in therapy in such a cool, unique way!
What Therapy Spot is Saying
Although the staff at Therapy Spot are missing their face-to-face interaction with clients due to COVID-19, they have found that Teletherapy in specific cases has been as effective. In fact, in many cases, it has resulted in more client self-awareness and self-initiative. The results have been stellar and this is due to our interactive approach using our secure platform with whiteboards, iPad mirroring, video analysis and more!
Teletherapy may not be an option for everyone and factors such as age, attention level, and specific goals need to be considered; teletherapists will develop their own protocols to determine candidacy for successful teletherapy.
However, if teletherapy is an option for yourself or your child, it is proven to be a convenient, effective, engaging way to incorporate speech services into your schedule and maximize the effectiveness of treatment.
If you are interested in learning more about teletherapy; or if you are wondering if you or your child would be a good candidate for teletherapy, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free 15-minute consultation at 416-546-3044. We look forward to hearing from you!
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