Speech therapists (and all you other wonderful ancillary services)- do you ever feel like your treatment sessions have become more "blah" than "AHA!"?

If so, this post is for you.

From time to time over the years I too felt like my work had become dry, or stale.  To combat this, I found several tried-and-true B.A.S.I.C. components you can put in each and every one of your therapy sessions to turn it from "meh" to "HOORAY!"  Not only will YOU find the missing joy in your work, but your STUDENTS or CLIENTS will benefit and recognize the value you provide as well.

Whether your patients are in the same room as you, or online and many miles away, including these B.A.S.I.C. components in every session will improve the quality of your therapy.  If you work with children, or with adults, utilizing these B.A.S.I.C.S. will change the way you think and do therapy. These B.A.S.I.C.S. work for both short sessions with short length of stays, as well as long sessions over an entire school year.

The B.A.S.I.C.S. are:

  • Be successful. Start the session with an exercise or activity that is "easy" and utilizes "errorless learning." Errorless learning is a technique that ensures the response is always correct. As skills are taught, a prompt is provided immediately preventing an incorrect response. Example: "I'm going to flip these cards over. When you see a card with a heart on it, catch the card before the next card shows up." As you flip the cards, when a card with a heart on it shows up, take the person's hand and tap the card with it. "Nice!" you might say. "You caught the card in time!" When you start off successful, you are eager to keep going.
  • Amp up the level of difficulty. Move on to exercises that gradually get harder or more difficult. Flip the cards faster, or prompt less often.  They learned the skill, they practiced it, and now doing it over and over reinforces it.
  • Show how this activity is beneficial and relatable.   We don't really go around catching cards during our day, but we do have to pay attention with different distractions going on around us.  We have to make choices quickly when buying groceries or ordering from a menu for example.  Make it very clear how this activity carries over and fits into their life.
  • Include strategies on how to be successful.  Point out there can only be 13 cards with hearts to catch in a normal deck of cards and once you have caught 13 cards, you will not catch anymore.  If you are comparing this task to ordering from a menu and they don't like seafood, suggest saving time by skipping over the seafood section.
  • Conclude on a high note.  Ensure your client answers the last question correctly so they will remember feeling successful.  If your last question or prompt is answered incorrectly, pick out another one you think will be answered correctly, or add in a few more questions until they do get it right.
  • Summarize and assign homework. Recap what everyone did during your time together, what skills were learned and practiced, and why these skills were targeted.  Reinforce these new skills, empower your student or resident to carry over the new skills and involve family or caregivers by sending a similar task or worksheet home for practice. Your student or resident is in therapy for 1 hour or less a day, or 5 hours or less a week. That leaves 23 hours in a day, or a whopping 163 hours a week to practice and utilize the new skills they learned in therapy! Think about the progress a person could make if they practiced even a tenth of that time!

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