Antics of the Speech Chick

Tips for the Struggling Teletherapist

I have written a series of blog posts over the last month or two, full of my thoughts of COVID-19 and my confessions about how much I am disliking teletherapy. If you missed any of those, I will link them at the bottom. But my recent blog post is what inspired this podcast episode. It’s for the struggling newly appointed teletherapist. If you’ve got this whole online therapy situation under wraps, then this episode isn’t for you. Unless you have those days that you feeling pretty low about your skills. Then hop on in, hon. I have some tips for you. Most of these I have put in my SLP backpack because I am on that struggle bus. Pretty sure I am the bus driver! So buckle up co-pilots, I have some tips that I hope will help you.

Click here to listen to the podcast episode

TIP #1

BREATHE! Take your head out of hands, stretch those arms up to the ceiling, and just breathe! Get that oxygen flowing. Use your breathing techniques if you have some. If you don’t have specific techniques, try Mindful Breathing. Mindful breathing is becoming completely aware of your breath and focusing only on it. Don’t change the way you breathe; just breathe. Becoming aware of your breathing will usually slow your breathing pattern down. When you slow that breathing pattern, you begin to feel more relaxed. Focusing on just breathing also becomes a very soothing form of meditation. I have a Fitbit Versa 2. During times of high stress (which has been a LOT lately), I clicked over to the “RELAX” option and go through a 2 minute breathing exercise. I pace my breathing with the circle, focusing only on the in and out of my air. Did you know that research shows that being mindful during your breathing can improve mood and help anxiety? So BREATHE!

Tip #2

Set clear start and end times. That means do not sit at your desk or therapy station all day. I start sessions at 8:30 most mornings. That means by 8:15-8:20am, I am at my desk, prepping for my day. I tell Alexa “GOOD MORNING,” she gives me the weather and plays 10 minutes of my Spotify list. I log off from 12-1 for lunch with the fam. Afternoon sessions go from 1pm to 5:30pm, depending on the day. Mondays are mostly light days so I log off the computer by 5pm. Tuesday-Thursday are my busiest days so I log off by 6pm each of those days. On Fridays, I wrap up things, prep for the next week, make a Monday “to do” list and logged off by 4pm at the latest! Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. But I am starting to learn that I need balance. I feel like a regular person when I set work times and stick to them. I may work on a little TpT or BOOM card set after dinner but by 8pm I am done with tech…DONE!!! Setting clear start and end times gives you time to do other things…workout, cook a fabulous dinner, paint, soak in the tub, read, or garden. Get your mind off of the terrible day. When you end your therapy day, END IT! Don’t focus on everything that went wrong. The day is over. You can’t go back and fix it. Do something for you now!

Tip #3

Stop the comparisons!!! We know that Pinterest can cause envy but so can Facebook groups. Whenever I am scrolling mindlessly through Facebook, I will feel myself become “inferior” to someone posting in one of those groups. At first, these posts would really get me down. But now when I see those posts of someone else’s fabulous session, I think “GOOD FOR THEM!” and move on. I am glad that SLPs have adapted to this new change. I have adapted but I am not rockin’ it by any means. At this point, I am like a kid counting down to Disneyland with a paper chain. Each day, I am taking a link off! June 1st, I am coming for you!!! But until then, I am doing my best….Did you hear that? MY best; not anyone else’s!

Tip #4

Play music that motivates you. Play it loud! Play it proudly! Music has been proven to change moods, help anxiety, and give a little movement if we dance along. Find songs that move you. That inspire you. We all have those songs that make us feel like we can conquer the world. Find those songs. Make a playlist. I have a Spotify playlist that I like to play first thing in the morning. It also may get played throughout the day if I am having a rough day. Here’s the link if you need some motivating music! Warning: I do love me some 90’s rap. If you are not a fan, just add the songs you like to your playlist.

Tip #5

Keep it simple! You’ve scoured the internet for ALL THE THINGS to help you with your sessions. You’ve downloaded the BOOM cards…all 53 sets you thought you needed. You’ve subscribed to the Ultimate SLP. You’ve bought the fancy headset and green screen…and the document camera. STOP IT! There is no need for all of this. One of my best weeks was the week I used a Bug’s Life Disneyland ride in my sessions. No matter how much planning I did, how many BOOM card sets I created…not of it mattered. This video was a hit! So much so that I wrote an entire blog post about how to use in your sessions! Here’s the link. I had never used YouTube videos in my sessions. I had never even watched YouTube videos before that! Get out your toys that you use in therapy. Read books. Cook with your clients!

Tip #6

Realize that nothing could have prepared you for this. There’s was no course in grad school on how to do teletherapy. Sadly, I am old enough that teletherapy was not even a thing when I was in grad school. You’ve watch the free online classes to transfer to teletherapy. Good! But realize that you have entered a new field of speech pathology. The transition would be just as hard if I was going from pediatrics to geriatrics. Think of the field of speech pathology like you do dogs. “Canine” is the main category but under it you have Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, Corgis, Huskies, etc. Each dog has something they were bred or trained to do well. You would expect a Corgi to hunt & retrieve like a Lab. Same goes for SLPs. Many of us really excel at in person therapy. Others excel at parent coaching. And yes, some are kick butt at teletherapy. Unfortunately, we all had to adapt to the latter. We are all having to fit into a mold that not many of us do not fit. Teletherapy is the round hole and I am the square peg. But I am going to make the best of it until I can get back to in person therapy.

Teletherapy is the round hole and I am the square peg.

Check out this blog post if you are struggling through COVID-19 & teletherapy. Here’s one for giving yourself grace during this crazy time. Social distancing making you feel weird? Me too! Click this link for my thoughts on social distancing!

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