COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the field of speech and language pathology (SLP). Many practitioners have had to quickly change from face-to-face therapy to telepractice. In some states where telepractice isn’t allowed, clients may not be able to receive treatment. The current situation has required all to adapt and move forward to continue to support client care.
Supporting SLP Patient Progress During COVID-19
Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) can continue to treat clients without in-person visits, though it may depend on the patient’s age and population. For example, SLPs who treat adults can continue to provide therapy for clients as long as their states allow the practice of telepractice and the patients are able to participate cognitively.
For children and young adult clients, early intervention has shifted into a coaching model of therapy for parents. So clients in elementary, middle, and high schools are able to participate in therapy. Again, treatment through telepractice is contingent on whether the state allows this model and if the practice has a platform for treatment. If states do allow it and clients are willing to participate, then telepractice can be a great option when clients can’t physically come into the clinic or meet with an SLP face-to-face.
In-Home SLP Treatment During COVID-19
Whether or not an SLP can provide treatment in-person or via telepractice, if the client previously had a good therapy foundation and understands how to generalize their treatment, they can continue working on goals at home. It is important that clients continue to communicate and check-in periodically with their SLP to modify or alter therapy or to move to the next goal.
It is important that clinicians educate families of clients on how to execute the treatment plan within the home. Families should always be coached to assist and support SLP goals, whether or not COVID-19 limits therapy options. Goal generalization should be practiced daily for optimal results, which means family members are key to the success of client therapy.
The current situation demonstrates the value of telepractice becoming an acceptable modality for treatment. It has also showcased the role the clinician has to ensure families understand, can execute, and are confident in generalizing treatment plans so clients can continue to progress and meet goals whether or not they can meet with their SLP face-to-face.
Author: Cherina Williams, M.Ed, CCC-SLP is a passionate pediatric speech and language pathologist in the San Francisco Bay Area and student in the PhD program at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. She’s the podcast host of “I’ve Got this Kid,” homeschooler of two, and wife of one who likes to walk, play, write and aspire others to maximize their potential. Learn more about her and her work on her website, https://www.iheartspeechtherapy.com/.