By Karin H. Koukeyan
Working from home as a teletherapy provider provides a multitude of conveniences by allowing a flexible work schedule. However, there is an ongoing challenge faced by individuals who choose a work-from-home lifestyle. Balancing your professional life with your personal life continues to be an ongoing stressor for many. This obstacle can be easily overcome with a few simple organizational tips. By designating a dedicated workspace that is clutter-free, you can maximize your effectiveness as a teletherapist and make an even bigger impact in the lives of many students.
- Choose the ideal space. Of course, the best scenario would be to have a separate, dedicated room that is exclusively used as a home office. However, this option may not be realistic for the majority. The next best thing is to dedicate a quiet and private space within a room and set it aside as your workspace. It is preferred that this space be free of foot traffic and noise to allow for best practices when providing teletherapy online. In order to reduce your stress level, it is also recommended that you do not switch between kitchen table and a corner of your bedroom on given days like a nomad but select one space to set up.
- Ensure privacy. It is critical to uphold confidentiality during therapy sessions as well as during any IEP meetings where the student’s specific information will be discussed. Be sure that there is no one else in the room with you during therapy sessions and videoconferences or conference calls. Some professionals choose to place a partition or portable panel room divider behind them. This ensures a clutter-free view for the student receiving therapy and also separates your space from the rest of your living area. It is also important to note that holding therapy sessions offsite in public areas such as coffee shops, computer labs, and libraries is inappropriate since it may compromise student confidentiality.
- Keep the background professional. Remember to check your video for what the student and client can see behind you. Since you are working from home be sure to remove any personal clutter such as baskets of laundry or dirty dishes. Even piles of paper or books may become distracting for students. For example, if your workspace is in your bedroom, make sure that your bed does not show in the background. A neatly organized backdrop is ideal in both maintaining an organized, professional workspace as well as avoiding any distractibility on the student’s part.
- Check your lighting. Before every session, be sure to check your lighting to ensure that your face is clearly visible. The best source of lighting is overhead, and it will ensure that your students remain engaged throughout the session. Watch yourself on camera and adjust your lighting to see what works the best.
- Keep it focused. In the spirit of minimalism, only use what you need during the therapy session. The PresenceLearning therapy environment provides almost everything you need for online therapy, but you may choose to have a paper and pen on hand. Most of the tools you need for documentation are available electronically; however, if you want to jot down something on sticky notes, that can be a useful strategy as well. Just be sure to complete your electronic documentation daily and shred any notes frequently to avoid paper clutter. Be sure to set your phone to vibrate, and there should be no personal calls or texts during the therapy session. It is also preferred that no eating take place during the session as well.
The following photos show an example of a well organized, uncluttered space that is perfect for teletherapy.
Working from home allows for many benefits to providers, allowing for flexibility to attend to our personal lives. These simple organizational strategies can help keep your work life separate and ensure a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. These strategies can in turn make you more focused as a professional, which in turn will maximize your effectiveness as a provider. Do you have more tips? Share them in the Comments below.
Karin H. Koukeyan, MS, CCC-SLP, is a Senior Clinical Consultant with PresenceLearning