*SLP = Speech Language Pathologist
As Teletherapy and Tele-practice are rapidly becoming more common among fields such as speech pathology, we are left to wonder whether or not it will replace in-person therapy in the future. Now obviously we cannot predict the future with a definite and one hundred percent accurate answer, but we can use facts and statistics we know now to make an educated guess on how speech therapy may look like in the future.
Now if you have read the previous articles you know that teletherapy has been rapidly spreading across the U.S; and that ASHA, the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, has declared that speech teletherapy is an effective way to treat speech, language, and hearing disorders. So that being said, speech teletherapy has the potential to be just as effective as in-person therapy. So now that we got that information is out of the way, we can move on to answering the question of whether not teletherapy is the future for speech therapy.
What are the Benefits of Teletherapy over In-Person Therapy?
A clinical study on speech teletherapy conducted in 2016 concluded; “Treatment outcome data and parental reports verified that the teletherapy service delivery was feasible and acceptable. However, it was also evident that regular discussion and communication between the various stakeholders involved in teletherapy programs may promote increased parental engagement and acceptability.” Basically the use of teletherapy over the use of in-person therapy actually increased parental engagement in the child’s speech pathology treatment. More parental involvement not only improves the parent-child relationship but also helps with the treatment itself. Since for most teletherapy sessions the parents sit in with their child for the duration of the session, they have a better idea of what’s going on with their child’s treatment. And with this they can then help their child work on, for an example, the sounds they are struggling with, outside of the teletherapy sessions and in their day to day life.
Another benefit is not having to commute. This can be beneficial for both the SLP and the client. Both save money on gas and car mileage, and not every family has access to their own car and may rely on public transportation. Having the sessions over programs like Zoom can help a lot of families have better access to treatment. Not having to commute also saves a lot of time. Ending and starting another Zoom call is a lot faster than driving from place to place, and this in turn can allow the SLP to see more clients in a given time period.
Last benefit I will cover is safety. Times have been changing and we now have risks such as COVID-19 looming over our heads. Teletherapy ensures that both the SLP and the client are safe from exposure to one another. And this in turn can stop the spread in general.
Is Teletherapy the Future for Speech Pathology?
At this point, based on all the information we have covered, I see no reason for teletherapy to not be the future for speech pathology. Now will teletherapy completely take over in-person therapy? Probably not. But at the rate teletherapy is growing at now, it is very possible that it will continue to grow in the future.
Fairweather GC, Lincoln MA, Ramsden R. Speech-language pathology teletherapy in rural and remote educational settings: Decreasing service inequities. Int J Speech Lang Pathol. 2016 Dec;18(6):592–602. doi: 10.3109/17549507.2016.1143973. Epub 2016 Apr 4. PMID: 27063692.