How one SLP rediscovered her “why”
Cindy H. says Presence helped her prioritize the meaningful work that originally inspired her career in special education
On one hand, Cindy H, M.S., CCC-SLP, was sure that speech-language pathology was her calling: she loved using speech therapy to make a positive difference in the lives of students in need. On the other hand, she felt that an overwhelming caseload, excessive paperwork, and extra administrative duties assigned by her school hampered the efficacy of her in-person practice.
“That was my frustration,” Cindy explained. “The kids weren’t making enough progress.”
After reading up on the benefits of teletherapy in ASHA publications, Cindy decided to take the plunge and apply to Presence, a leader in PreK-12 teletherapy. Still, she wondered, was remote service delivery “too good to be true?”
A routine refresh
Upon joining Presence, Cindy’s reservations about teletherapy quickly disappeared. Her new routine effectively balanced her caseload with clerical duties, leaving more time to dedicate to her students.
I enjoy that I feel at the top of my game professionally. It’s sort of the dream. It fulfills the “why” we went to college. I get to actually do speech therapy all day every day… imagine that! I have just the right and proper amount of paperwork. I don’t lose precious therapy time doing bus duties or learning about initiatives that aren’t pertinent to my overall mission as an SLP.
In addition, Cindy said Presence’s flexible scheduling helped her find a workflow that maximizes therapeutic productivity while keeping stress at bay.
“I prefer about 5 direct therapy sessions each day. I’ve learned that 8 direct groups in a day are too many for me to personally feel like I’m still giving the students my best,” she said, adding, “I’m nowhere near as stressed out as I was in my previous setting.”
Therapy in a digital era
One aspect of teletherapy that surprised Cindy was how well her students acclimated to online learning. Not only that, some actually seemed more comfortable with teletherapy as opposed to in-person service models.
“I’ve seen some students with ‘chips on their shoulders’ who just let the hostilities go. I see reduced anxiety too with the kids who may be included along the autism spectrum,” Cindy said. “And with the kids who are doing work on speech fluency, it’s the same thing—their anxiety drops down a notch or two which helps us achieve a higher level of therapeutic honesty. I think the common theme is an element of safety and predictability. The teletherapy experience is less intimidating for them.”
Making the switch
Before Cindy transitioned to teletherapy, her dreams of having both a flexible, streamlined schedule and being an SLP seemed like just that–a dream. Now that she works with Presence, Cindy has been able to realize a work-life balance that suits her.
“To this day, I’m still pinching myself. It really can happen,” she said. “I feel like I’m doing what I went to school to do.”
Cindy H. currently resides in Columbia, Illinois. She is celebrating nearly 30 years of marriage to her husband, Jim, and is excited to have recently accepted an adjunct professor position at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, where she teaches a course on communication disorders. She has been a Presence clinician since 2011.
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