Is Teletherapy Just "Therapy on Skype"? - PresenceLearning

Screen shot of memory activityWith mainstream technology like Skype and Facetime allowing people to chat face-to-face over long distances, it is a common misperception that teletherapy (also known as online therapy or telehealth) simply uses any videoconferencing tool to allow clinicians to connect with students or patients, perhaps holding up materials and flashcards to the camera as needed. While some therapists do provide services in such a way, this is by no means a best practice. In fact, videoconferencing technology is just one of many factors comprising high quality teletherapy that has consequences for students, parents, clinicians (speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and mental health professionals) and school districts. If you are considering online therapy for your district, be sure to take into account the following factors.

How good is the fidelity?
Are the sound and video quality clear and crisp? Can the technology perform solidly, even at lower bandwidths? PresenceLearning’s “Lightyear” therapy solution was designed to deliver high fidelity, live teletherapy sessions while putting significantly less demand on school network bandwidth (and is a Tech & Learning Award of Excellence winner).

Is the platform secure?
Is the connection between the clinician and the student secure and private? How is student progress tracked, stored, and maintained? The PresenceLearning teletherapy environment supports FERPA privacy and security guidelines, as applicable. PresenceLearning manages student information with a heightened degree of security by ensuring safeguards including—but not limited to—password protection, encryption capabilities, de-identification processes, and invitation-only therapy sessions.

Are the right therapists available at the right time for your students’ needs?
Connecting students with scarce professionals regardless of location is one of the biggest benefits of teletherapy. PresenceLearning has a network of nearly 800 fully-licensed SLPs, OTs, and mental health professionals, many with specialities and experience in working with more severe and/or rare disorders. With flexible scheduling, these clinicians are able to provide services around a school’s and student’s needs, providing more consistent therapy.

What exercises and activities are available?
Age-appropriate, evidence-based exercises, activities, games and rewards are clinicians’ tools for working with students. The more tools available, the better a session can be tailored to a student’s individual situation, needs, and interests. The PresenceLearning content library houses thousands of activities for online SLPs, OTs, and mental health professionals to use. These activities are categorized by grade level and goal, making it easy and efficient for therapists to browse and quickly find what they need. In addition, therapists can create and upload materials for sharing with one another, which enables the entire network to help solve particular case challenges, foster creativity, and further hone skills.

What kind of progress tracking and reporting are available?
Just like traditional therapy, online clinicians are required to take notes, track progress, and document goals for students. With the right technology, clinicians can document progress right in the same platform where they deliver therapy. PresenceLearning’s online solutions gives SLPs, OTs, and mental health professionals this ability, ensuring real-time tracking of student performance and notes and statistics for each session. Special education directors have access to this information, so they are always informed of student progress and issues.

What is the level of service quality?
Just as all online therapy is not equal, either is service quality. PresenceLearning contracts the best of the best clinicians through a rigorous screening process, so you don’t have to. You gain access to a network of nearly 800 licensed service providers who work face-to-face with students via secure, live, online video sessions using our proprietary platform to deliver speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, and behavior and mental health services, ensuring the needs of your students are met. Many of our clinicians are experts in particular disorders, and are bilingual and/or multicultural. Our providers have also administered more than 6,000 live, online initial, annual, triennial, and exit assessments. PresenceLearning clinicians conduct full evaluations, including administering the assessments, analyzing the results, writing reports and goals, participating in IEP meetings, and communicating with the child’s support team.

The availability and quality of implementation, technical, and clinical support also play a large role in determining the overall quality of an online therapy solution. With PresenceLearning, you have support every step of the way.

2 responses to “Is Teletherapy Just “Therapy on Skype”?

  1. Hello Ann,
    This is a great question. I have done many online OT evaluations. I use a combination of standardized assessments, clinical observation, record review, and parent / teacher interviews, just as I would onsite. Before I do the evaluation, I let the adult support person, who will be with the student, know which testing forms or types of materials will be needed during the evaluation – things like balls, scissors, and other manipulatives. The support person also assists during the evaluation by positioning the external web camera so I can see the student’s hands while gathering handwriting and cutting samples, or the student’s entire body if looking at balance or crossing the midline. Hope this helps!

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