The Pivot From Therapy Onsite to Therapy Online
In the therapy world, most traditional pediatric occupational and physical therapists are most comfortable working hands-on and with children “in person”. The challenge of this past year was how to combine clinical expertise with technology to treat and evaluate children via telehealth.
Our openness to adapt to an online model of therapy greatly influenced our ability to continue helping children and families in the greatest need of our services. If kids were struggling prior to the pandemic, online school plus the disruption in familiar routines made situations even more challenging for parents at home.
As a private practice owner and an online OT educator, I have had the chance to interact with hundreds of therapy practitioners this past year. It’s apparent that the therapists who had an open mindset to different model of service delivery, who could pivot quickly and who sought additional telehealth training were the most successful in being able to continue to deliver high quality, therapy services online. On the other hand, many practices struggled or were forced to shut down during this time resulting in unprecedented therapy layoffs.
Lesson learned: Your responsibility to your clients and students is to ensure that you are well trained, competent and effective with telehealth as a model of service delivery.
The big lesson learned for our profession in 2020 is that it’s important for therapists to adopt a growth mindset to become more competent and confident with telemedicine. It’s never too late to pivot, to learn and to adapt to a new way of doing therapy…because telehealth is here to stay. And as a matter of fact, your license and future career opportunities may depend on it.
“Telehealth won’t work for my child.”
For parents and caregivers, it’s also equally important to keep an open mind to virtual therapy. Before you assume that telehealth won’t work for for your child, keep in mind that your involvement is a critical aspect to your child’s success whether in person or online. The truth is, if you want to experience successful virtual sessions and faster progress, it’s not just about your therapist. It’s about partnering with your therapist. You know your child best. And your therapist knows OT best. You may be surprised with how effective telehealth sessions can be for helping your child reach their potential when you have the right partnership with your therapist.
Lesson learned: Successful therapy sessions, whether in person or online, work best with parent involvement and partnering with your therapist on behalf of your child’s growth and development.