So you’ve scheduled your first Teletherapy session! Woo-hoo! Now what?
Here are some things you should do prior to your first therapy session.
- Email the parent(s) a lesson plan of what you’re going to be doing and what your goals are for the session. This will help them help you during the session. It lets them read the plan and ask questions prior to your session.
- If you are using specific toys or paper materials, make sure the family has these times ready for you at the start of the session. If you’re using toys during your session, be specific on what toy you will use first and have the parent keep the rest of the toys out of reach.
- Plan for your session to take an extra 15 minutes. Teletherapy will take a little getting use to. You and/or your client may experience difficulty signing in, getting video to work or getting the audio to work correctly. These are things that usually have an easy fix but troubleshooting during the first session takes a little longer.
- Have a backup plan for possible troubleshooting needs. Have customer support numbers handy and consider using your phone as audio if the computer speakers are not working. Many online platforms have online chat boxes for troubleshooting.
- Schedule a pre-session appointment with your client’s parent(s) so that you can familiarize them with the online therapy platform you are using. This is very helpful for parents! It helps them and you work out the kinks and more quickly sign-on and get started during the therapy session. If you are providing therapy while the child is at school, touch base with your e-helper to make sure you are both ready and on the same page for your first day.
- Just like in a traditional setting, plan a fun, getting to know you activity if appropriate. If you are working with very young children, plan a fun game for the beginning of the session so that they feel comfortable with you.
- Let the parents know that you will be taking the last 5 minutes of the session to give and receive feedback as well as to discuss carryover activities.
- Remind parents that they should be in a quiet space where the child has minimal distractions. Sometimes, siblings join the fun and you will have to decide if this something you can incorporate or not.
- If you are completing a test, make sure you discuss what the parent’s roles are or the E-helper’s roles are prior to the testing session. You may need to train the parents or helper on how to administer certain test items to make sure they are not providing additional cues. This will require meetings/phone calls prior to the testing session.
- Many of us give out stickers after our sessions or as rewards during a session. Make sure you have rewards for kids during you Teletherapy session. You can use virtual stickers, videos, games, star charts, coloring, etc.
If you are providing Teletherapy on your own as a private clinician, make sure you have a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) in place with the teletherapy platform you are using and any other online service you are using such as email. To learn more about what a BAA is, check out this article, BAA: Why You Need It When doing Teletherapy.
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