Last Updated on February 12, 2021
Telepractice has always been a viable form of service delivery. However, COVID-19 has forced practitioners to reimagine the service delivery model.
This unprecedented time has forged new communication avenues in ways the world has never known. Therapists and practitioners are creating a new-normal for intervention.
Here are four essential areas to consider for making the most out of your telepractice and ensuring the best possible outcome.
Before the pandemic, face-to-face clinical assessment tools, classroom observations, home visits, and meetings with parents and teachers were part of a thorough assessment process. However, there are essential things to consider now that assessments are administered via an online platform.
COVID-19 prompted unfamiliar routines and changes to learning environments; therefore, there are concerns regarding the efficacy of assessments conducted during this time. Stress and environmental modifications related to the pandemic are complicated variables to quantify, but they are important to take into consideration.
There are excellent resources available that provide assessment tips and advice. One important piece of advice is to document everything and provide all data, including pre-COVID data. Use explanations and provide your best clinical judgment when determining service eligibility or providing an updated progress report.
Treatment protocols, such as board games and dramatic play items, are now available digitally. Screen sharing and remote manipulation of on-screen objects allow for treatment to be exciting and fun. It is possible to play board games similar to Chutes and Ladders and Connect Four. Treatment cards, books, and activities are abundantly available on various online digital resource sites.
Efficacy research that spans all disciplines from rehabilitative therapy to mental health and counseling has demonstrated that teletherapy treatment is just as effective as in-person treatment. Meaningful and engaging therapy is the most important factor, not the venue.
Age, Access, and Ability
The difficulty with telepractice is that it is not a viable model for all children who need services. Children who are too young or children who have neurocognitive differences or sensory processing disorders may not benefit from telepractice services at first; however, talking openly about fears and educating parents about expectations can potentially create a positive learning environment. Consultative or indirect intervention with the educational team and families is a viable way to continue the therapeutic process and make desirable gains.
It is crucial to follow these fundamental guidelines to optimize the benefits of teletherapy:
- Use a HIPAA compliant virtual communication system.
- Check with your state policies regarding the rules and regulations for virtual service delivery. Although telepractice is a common way to provide intervention, state-specific guidelines may differ from national governing associations such as the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASAH) or the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
- Always make treatment fun and engaging with online games and interactive activities.
- Be open and talk about the challenges, fears, and frustrations that COVID-19 has created.
- Be thorough with your documentation, especially regarding your observations when administering assessment protocols.
- Create access to materials and games so that students and families can continue learning from home.
COVID-19 has changed the way therapists conduct their craft. Teletherapy has been proven to be extraordinarily efficacious. Adopting these tips can make assessments and intervention highly successful and engaging.
Visit WPS today to learn how clinicians are using psychological and educational assessments remotely.
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