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How do I communicate and collaborate in telepractice?

Sara Smith, MS, CCC-SLP, Diana Parafiniuk, MS, CCC-SLP

May 15, 2020



What are some important factors to consider when communicating and collaborating through telepractice?


Communication is always important in our field, but there are some key points specifically related to working in a virtual environment. It is, of course, important to maintain privacy and to be HIPAA and FERPA compliant. Much of your communication in telepractice is completed through email so you want to be sure to not use a student or client’s full name.  Likewise, if you are sending documents with student or client information through email as an attachment, then the documents need to be password protected.  If you work with a company that has a secure online system in place, then you may be able to send documents to the school or client privately and securely that way. The bottom line is to definitely keep student privacy in mind just as you would in any therapy setting.

You can connect and collaborate with caregivers and the IEP team - if you're working with a school district - through various means in telepractice. You can speak with them face-to-face, online, over the phone or through email.

It's usually pretty easy to send materials through email for home practice and carryover. There is also a benefit to sending brief reminders or recommendations to families and clients through email. There are definitely those times that I have mentioned something to a parent at the end of a session and as soon as we part ways, they probably forgot what I said. When they have that information in an email, they can actually refer back to it later and that can really be useful.

It's always important in our field to document and keep a written communication log. This can really come into play in telepractice if you're communicating over the phone or even through text. You want to be sure to document any information in a contact log so that you can reference it later if needed. This is especially important when working at a distance to establish open lines of communication.

We are all well aware that some folks are still reticent about telepractice. You may have to take some extra time to establish rapport and get buy-in from teachers or parents that you are working with.  As technology expands into really almost every aspect of our lives, people are becoming more and more used to the idea of teletherapy and are less hesitant about it. But you will still encounter resistance with some folks and that just requires you as the therapist to help bring them along and keep the lines of communication open so that they see the value and benefits of online therapy services. Once they see how it works, how the students can enjoy the sessions and make progress, then they usually get on board pretty quickly.

Please refer to the SpeechPathology.com course, Telepractice: What You Need to Know for Practical Application in Pediatrics, for more information on structuring and implementing a telepractice model, including examples for speech therapy sessions with the pediatric population.

sara smith

Sara Smith, MS, CCC-SLP

Sara Smith, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and lead product manager with E-Therapy. Sara attended UNC Chapel Hill and the University of North Texas, where she received a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She has worked extensively with children and adults on the autism spectrum in schools, group homes, and private clinics.  She has experience working as a speech pathologist and supervisor in a variety of settings including school districts, private practice, early childhood intervention, and telepractice. Sara is an independent app developer and has several speech therapy apps available on iTunes. She currently works with E-Therapy to develop new materials and help teletherapists provide effective sessions for their students.

diana parafiniuk

Diana Parafiniuk, MS, CCC-SLP

Diana Parafiniuk, MS, CCC-SLP, is the co-founder and chief marketing officer for E-Therapy. She manages E-Therapy’s marketing team, oversees and supports operations, and supervises contractors, aides, and therapists. As an SLP, Diana has extensive experience providing speech and language services to online and brick-and-mortar schools across the United States. She is fluent in Spanish and brings a broad understanding of multiculturalism to the company. Diana has provided services for bilingual English/Spanish speaking populations. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Linguistics and a Master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Northern Arizona University. Diana also served as an adjunct professor at Northern Arizona University teaching classes in SLPA childhood communication disorders and screening and treatment.

Related Courses

Telepractice: A Day in the Life of a Pediatric Teletherapist - the Inside Scoop
Presented by Sara Smith, MS, CCC-SLP, Diana Parafiniuk, MS, CCC-SLP


Sara Smith, MS, CCC-SLPDiana Parafiniuk, MS, CCC-SLP
Course: #9010Level: Introductory1.5 Hour
  'All the resources'   Read Reviews
This is Part 2 of a two-part series. This course gives an inside look at a day in the life of a telepractitioner, including adherence to telepractice guidelines and treatment of common pediatric speech-language disorders.

20Q: Teletherapy Basics for School-Age Children
Presented by Sara Smith, MS, CCC-SLP, Diana Parafiniuk, MS, CCC-SLP, Diana Martin, MS, CCC-SLP


Sara Smith, MS, CCC-SLPDiana Parafiniuk, MS, CCC-SLPDiana Martin, MS, CCC-SLP
Course: #9615Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'This year, I had to provide telehealth therapy for the first time'   Read Reviews
How can SLPs find and organize effective digital therapy materials and keep children engaged when delivering services online? This course addresses these topics as well as selection of technology and teletherapy platforms, compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and relationship building with children and caregivers.

Telepractice: What You Need to Know for Practical Application in Pediatrics
Presented by Sara Smith, MS, CCC-SLP, Diana Parafiniuk, MS, CCC-SLP


Sara Smith, MS, CCC-SLPDiana Parafiniuk, MS, CCC-SLP
Course: #8941Level: Introductory1.5 Hour
  'The course was well organized with discussion of state laws, ethical considerations and hands on examples of therapy sessions'   Read Reviews
This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Telepractice can be a valuable form of service delivery, helping to overcome obstacles of travel, scheduling, and lack of available service providers. This course provides information on how to structure and implement a telepractice model, including practical teletherapy examples for speech therapy sessions with the pediatric population.

Forced Into Telepractice With No Idea What To Do Next! The Ins & Outs to Becoming a Teletherapist
Presented by Diana Parafiniuk, MS, CCC-SLP


Diana Parafiniuk, MS, CCC-SLP
Course: #9295Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'Extremely helpful information, especially for 2020-2021 year'   Read Reviews
This course will cover foundational skills for therapists new to teletherapy, including setting realistic expectations, effective organization and scheduling strategies, privacy concerns, and insights into tracking and documentation. It will also address best practices for involving parents and learning coaches, essentials for coordinating sessions with students, and how to deal with technical difficulties.

Language Therapy via Telepractice: Imagine the Possibilities
Presented by Melissa Jakubowitz, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL


Melissa Jakubowitz, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL
Course: #9306Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'Engaging and inviting'   Read Reviews
This course will discuss the provision of evidence-based language therapy services via telepractice to children from birth through high school. A brief overview of the current literature will be provided, along with a more in-depth look at using evidence-based practices in a telepractice setting. This course is presented in partnership with the American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders (ABCLLD).