Virtually Speaking: A Teletherapy Blog for Clinicians, by Clinicians – PresenceLearning

We’ve had a lot of questions come in recently asking about how caseload management works in teletherapy. Specifically, we’ve had therapists ask how providers in the PL Care Network get their first assignment and complete all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into getting started with a new caseload. This is the first in a four-part series that walks through how to transition from onsite to online work as a therapist. We reached out to Kristin Martinez, SLP-CCC, to help us answer some of the most frequent questions we’ve heard. How do you define and communicate availability? At PresenceLearning, we request that providers indicate specifically when, each day, they are available to sit down in front of the computer for therapy sessions. These times must be recurring as therapy sessions are scheduled based upon this information. Beyond availability for direct therapy, however, providers must also be available to attend IEP meetings, complete evaluations, respond to email, and complete all student-related documentation and paperwork. The days and times may vary, but providers are still responsible for all caseload-related tasks, just as onsite providers would be. We begin to gather availability information during the recruiting process, then if a provider contracts with us,…

Lindsey Terry, M.A, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist, teletherapist, and parent of four children. She is also a Power Vinyasa Yoga Instructor and teaches about three classes a week and is leading her very first yoga retreat in March of 2019. Attracted by the flexibility that teletherapy offered her as a working parent and SLP, she joined the PresenceLearning Care Network four years ago after taking some time off for family. We spoke with Lindsey about her experience working as a teletherapist. Could you walk us through your daily routine? A “day in the life of a PL therapist” if you will? I have four kids. I have two daughters,13 and 11, and I have twins that are 8 so I wake up and get everybody ready for school. When everybody is situated where they need to be, I start online with paperwork and scheduling, and I jump right in to seeing my clients. I do love that I live in Texas and that I’m on the Pacific time schedule with California so I have the mornings to make sure my family life is under control. When everything is all balanced, I dive into my PL duties. I see all…

Nova Quinn, CCC-SLP, began hearing about teletherapy while attending graduate school in San Francisco. She moved to Providence, Rhode Island after graduation in 2012 and started working in a public school five days a week. She was really interested in trying out teletherapy.  Because she finished her public school days early at 2 pm Eastern time, she realized she could come home from her onsite therapy, open her computer, and pick up a caseload in Washington or California, to test the teletherapy waters. And it was great. She loved it. Then she got pregnant. When she had her son and was on maternity leave, the public school didn’t have any flexibility—they needed her full time or not at all. Nova made the leap to PresenceLearning in 2017. Could you walk us through your daily routine? A “day in the life of a PL therapist” if you will? I wake up in the morning at my home in Rhode Island and have breakfast and coffee with my one-year-old as my husband gets ready and heads out to work. On the two days that I work with PresenceLearning, I spend the morning playing, going for a walk, doing yoga, or squeezing in…

This month we spoke with Kristin Martinez, M.A., CCC-SLP, a clinical quality manager with PresenceLearning, to discuss what to expect, how to prepare, and how to navigate compliance issues for SLPs, OTs, and MHPs who might be considering a move to teletherapy. Let’s start at the beginning. What does a provider need to consider initially when preparing to practice in a new state via teletherapy? Of course the first consideration is adherence to any state licensure requirements. Depending on the state, this might include a state-issued license from each discipline’s governing body, but might also include a Department of Education license if you are providing teletherapy services in school-based settings. State license applications commonly require additional background checks in addition to letters of verification from the licensing bodies in any other states where you already hold a license. Also be aware that some states require a business registry/license if you are practicing as a telepractioner. What guidelines would you advise providers to research first? Educate yourself on your discipline’s national association best practice guidelines related to teletherapy (e.g., ASHA, AOTA, APA), and then start researching state regulations for any states where you have or are considering cross-licensure. In addition, it…

Gila Cohen-Shaw, M.A, CCC-SLP, PC, has worked with children as a speech-language pathologist for over 20 years in a wide range of settings and roles. She took the leap into teletherapy seven years ago and has not looked back. Today, Gila works as a Lead Clinician at PresenceLearning—she works with small, medium, and large school districts, and does individual therapy sessions as well. We sat down with Gila to talk about her work as a teletherapist. Could you walk us through your daily routine? Some of my day is routine, but mostly it’s pretty non-routine. I think I spend most of my day expecting the unexpected. Here’s the routine part: once I have my coffee or tea, I open up all the tabs and websites I use, and I open my Room. Then I open up the provider community portal, The Lounge, and respond to help with engagement and to share knowledge. Then I go through my emails. Each email generates a task—add a student, remove one, find a solution to a problem, answer a question. My goal is to clear my inbox (I don’t always achieve it). I might attend an IEP because I’m responsible for the case management for those…

Rachel Morris, OT, is an occupational therapist with PresenceLearning. Rachel started her OT career in 1990 and started with PL as an OT provider in 2013.   January is a great time to set goals for taking good care of our bodies. Because teletherapists have unique challenges with the physical demands of sitting in front of computer screens, we reached out to occupational therapist, Rachel Morris, for her strategies for paying attention to physical well-being and keeping a healthy and happy body. Let’s talk a little about routines you use to take care of your body while working. Will you share with us how your morning starts? Do you have any warm-up exercises you do before you sit down at your computer to meet with students? Ideally, stretching is best to do in the morning. I also recommend doing a little planking for core strength (The Plank is a yoga/pilates pose—you can learn more about it here.) Have a glass of water available and gather all of the materials you’ll need for your work at your desk before starting the day. Can you talk a little about scheduling and how you can fit in regular breaks to get up from…

Bringing Cultural Sensitivity to Winter Holidays Kristin Martinez, M.A., CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and clinical quality manager with PresenceLearning. Kristin started her career in 2000 working as an onsite SLP in her local community of Fort Collins, Colorado. In 2013, Kristin expanded her practice to teletherapy. As a CQM, Kristin has the opportunity to work with clinicians as well as district staff to support clinical teletherapy services in districts across several states. As we approach the beginning of winter, we wanted to reach out to Kristin for some advice on what she has learned over her years of practice about how to create a respectful, inclusive approach to holidays with students, their families, and school staff. In this month’s interview, she shares some ideas. How can practitioners bring celebration into their work with students at this time of year while avoiding a focus on any particular religious holiday to the exclusion of others? All holidays should be a time when we are particularly sensitive to the various cultural, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds of the children and families we serve. However, working as teletherapists brings an even greater level of responsibility—while we might consider ourselves attuned to traditions of…

Kristin Martinez, M.A., CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and clinical quality manager with PresenceLearning. Kristin started her career in 2000 working as an onsite SLP in her local community of Fort Collins, Colorado. In 2013, Kristin expanded her practice to teletherapy. In her role, Kristin has the opportunity to work with clinicians as well as district staff to support clinical teletherapy services in districts across several states. As a follow-on article to last month’s feature, “Best Practices for Setting Up a Home Teletherapy Office,” we connected with Kristin this month for advice on managing the challenges associated with working out of a home office (distractions with kids and pets, cleaning sounds, etc.). In this month’s interview, Kristin offers best practices for creating work-life balance. What was the biggest adjustment you had to make when you transitioned from working onsite to working in a home office? I found the most significant adjustment was that I had to take greater initiative to connect with my colleagues as I wouldn’t be “running into” anyone during staff meetings, in the teachers’ lounge, etc. While I valued the autonomy of working from home, I realized that I needed to ensure that I was taking advantage of opportunities…

Kristin Martinez, M.A., CCC-SLP, is a Clinical Quality Manager with PresenceLearning. Kristin started her career in 2000 working as an onsite SLP in her local community of Fort Collins, Colorado. In 2013, Kristin expanded her practice to teletherapy and has never looked back. We reached out to her this month for advice and best practices on setting up your teletherapy office. First, let’s talk about how to set up a teletherapy home office to create a welcoming and engaging environment for the students, parents, and school staff you work with. What are the key elements therapists need to consider in setting up their workspace—from the student perspective? The primary focus needs to be on creating the best possible visual and auditory environment for both the clinician and the student. Working in a private, quiet space with good lighting is essential. Make sure that you are selecting a space that minimizes any potential background noise and that maximizes light. Experiment with lighting: If possible, avoid bright sunlit windows right behind you. If you must have a window behind, you’ll need to light your face from in front to balance the brightness behind you. Try bouncing light off the ceiling to brighten…

Clinical Quality Manager Kristin Martinez, CCC-SLP, offers tips for building rapport with teachers, parents, and caregivers in order to ensure students reach their full potential. Read the interview below for best practices to start the school year off right. After you’ve made your initial introductions, how do you build lasting relationships with school staff members and parents/caregivers? Make it clear that you want to be an active member of the child’s and school’s team, and that you are invested in your students’ success both in the classroom and at home! Parents and teachers have a lot on their plates, in addition to the fact that they might not always fully understand the role of related care providers and how we can support students’ needs. It is important that the therapist take the initiative to learn about students’ strengths and needs in the classroom and home settings, and to continually and consistently reach out with ideas, practice materials, and support. What recommendations do you have for other therapists who are struggling to make connections with parents/caregivers? Reach out with good news! Parents and caregivers get to hear quite a bit about their childrens’ struggles and areas of need, but how often…

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