The Benefits of Zoom Teletherapy
Zoom Teletherapy: An Educational Therapist’s Perspective
A series of articles by Ann B. – Educational Therapist
In these uncertain, and sometimes bleak days the Corona virus has imposed upon us, I am going to admit to something surprising, and perhaps controversial: I enjoy, and actually benefit from, treating my educational therapy clients using Zoom. I know, I agree – it has its drawbacks, but its advantages are too numerous to ignore.
I’ve been using Zoom to conduct my 50-minute educational teletherapy sessions since the shutdown, and it was surprisingly easy to transition from “in-person” to “in-camera,” even though I had limited experience with Zoom prior to the pandemic. My clients range from age 6-17 – some have special needs, while others have some identified learning difficulty such as dyslexia or ADD. My overall experience these past 4 months (is that all it’s been?) with distance learning has been unquestionably positive. Zoom is, hands-down, a helpful tool that aids me in keeping my clients’ skills from becoming rusty, and much more. I am even using Zoom to teach clients to read, to write, and to actually create and use a schedule! I profess, even I am a little surprised at this!
The Zoom Benefits
The benefits of using Zoom are both personal and professional. Personally, I sure don’t miss those pre-Covid early morning wake-ups, followed by a quick dog walk, then making breakfast, which I drank on my drive to work. Nor do I miss the responsibility of keeping up appearances by dressing up for work. I find I use less make-up now, due to how well Zoom’s “touch up my appearance” feature works. No commute means the expense of time and money are now erased, and I get to sleep in a little.
Professionally, the benefits of Zoom teletherapy are even broader. It definitely makes sharing digital resources with students a more direct experience. It’s ironic – we call it “distance learning,” but it’s really the opposite. In fact, when you think about it, the distance between my lips and my students’ ears actually decreases in the Zoom environment. Same with the digital document and my students’ eyes. Being this “close” enhances both the educational and the therapeutic relationship, and I still feel connected when I see my students’ faces. That is, when I can see their face, which, at times, can be a challenge. Imagine what it looks like if your view is being controlled by a youngster holding an iPad (i.e., your head) between their two hands. I usually end up getting queasy at the sight of bouncing unintelligible objects that appear upside down and this way and that. Often I get to admire the ceiling, but sometimes I am rewarded by the sight of my student’s quizzical face, because s/he needs to “check in.” Those can be the best moments, because it usually happens when they just learned something – sigh.
Here’s a recent example of what I mean by ease of using resources. I had to get creative to get my 1st grade client with special needs back to our session (she thinks it’s hilarious to pretend to shut the laptop, saying, “OK, ‘bye!”). Once, she walked away, but I felt she must be nearby, so I Googled the first thing I could think of – an armadillo. The educational video that I was playing for her, less than 10 seconds later, brought her back with eyes wide and mouth closed. Then we continued with the session, and later rolled up like an armadillo for a body break. And that’s just one resource – I could have pulled up an eternal supply of relevant and effective material. It’s virtually unlimited!
I have two adult children of my own, and I really feel for the parents out there who have young children in school in 2020. Let’s face it – it’s scary to send your child to school these days! I am glad we have teletherapy, now at CSC, so that I can continue to deliver vital educational therapy to the fabulous kids I work with.