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  • Andrea Lau, SLP

Coaching via Telepractice

Virtual health, or telepractice, is an interesting topic to navigate. It can be so similar to in-person service delivery yet so different at the same time. Teletherapy can be used for assessment and observation, intervention in the form of therapy sessions, and consultation. Articulation of speech sounds, a variety of language, literacy, parent training and social goals can still be supported through teletherapy sessions. However, one area of speech & language therapy that I have found more interesting to navigate is how to provide coaching via telepractice.


Empowering by Coaching

I believe in using a coaching model in my family-centered early intervention. As coaching a parent is a lot less direct than compared to working 1:1 with the child, the added layer of providing coaching via teletherapy sometimes feels even more indirect at times. What are the strategies around this, and what can we aim for in order to still achieve good success using this service model?


Coaching builds a cooperative and collaborative relationship between the coach—in this case, the the Speech Therapist, Andrea —and the on-site parent through empowerment. It is so valuable and important to remember that the partnership between a parent and a clinician makes them equals in the therapeutic process (Turnbull & Turnbull, 2001). It is important that both parent and clinician collaborate together to determine a specific, evidence-based coaching strategy to be practiced in each session. For example, I may demonstrate the coaching strategy and apply it during the intervention session, and the parent then practices the strategy and receives feedback from me.


This interdependence is critical for telepractice success, for several reasons: The parent working directly with their child can keep me apprised of quality indicators. The added benefit of working through the parent on telepractice allows us to ensure the child is already working functionally with their usual communication partners in their natural environment. Additionally, the parent’s support can also help prevent a communication breakdown between the clinician and the child.


To read more about the value of "parent-implemented intervention", be sure to check out this great Hanen article! http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/Parents-as--Speech-Therapists--What-a-New-Study-S.aspx


As quoted from the above article: "The study review found --


  1. As a result of participating in parent-implemented training programs, parents successfully learned the strategies and used them when interacting with their child.

  2. Parents had a positive effect on their child’s communication development. Parents’ use of strategies led to improvements in their child’s expressive skills (nonverbal communication as well as speech), understanding, vocabulary, grammar, and the frequency with which their child communicated.

  3. Parents were just as effective at helping their child as speech-language pathologists were. In fact, parents were actually more effective than speech-language pathologists when working on improving the child’s understanding of language and grammar.

  4. Children with a variety of language difficulties made good progress when their parents were trained to help them. This includes children with Language Impairment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Developmental Delay."

My own take away, and I hope it may also be yours as well - is that parents make a huge difference - whether it is through direct therapy or coaching via teletherapy!


Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for weekly blog posts on Sundays, covering all speech language pathology topics from children to adults!


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