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SLP observations & feeling bothersome


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The past two months I have volunteered at a pediatric OT-speech clinic with multiple OT's, but only one SLP. 

 

When I shadow a speech session, I sit in a chair in the corner, but I somehow end up being a distraction to the child due to the small room and me being a new face. Multiple sessions I have felt embarrassed as the SLP has to divert the child's attention back to her as the child glances at me, and in one session the child was very shy with a new face and I had to step out. 

 

I have shadowed the OT's as well, but they involve me in their sessions, and provide me with things to do before and after the session to assist them. They explain what they are doing, and make me feel connected and engaged. 

 

I am starting to feel like a bit of a bother to the SLP, and today she brought up that she would prefer if I only shadowed speech sessions bi-monthly instead of weekly. 

 

Does anyone have any stories, hints, tips, or advice about observations? 

Edited by jmk
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The past two months I have volunteered at a pediatric OT-speech clinic with multiple OT's, but only one SLP. 

 

When I shadow a speech session, I sit in a chair in the corner, but I somehow end up being a distraction to the child due to the small room and me being a new face. Multiple sessions I have felt embarrassed as the SLP has to divert the child's attention back to her as the child glances at me, and in one session the child was very shy with a new face and I had to step out. 

 

I have shadowed the OT's as well, but they involve me in their sessions, and provide me with things to do before and after the session to assist them. They explain what they are doing, and make me feel connected and engaged. 

 

I am starting to feel like a bit of a bother to the SLP, and today she brought up that she would prefer if I only shadowed speech sessions bi-monthly instead of weekly. 

 

Does anyone have any stories, hints, tips, or advice about observations? 

 

I had the same problem as you have when sitting in the same room while a therapy session was going on. I really felt like I shouldn't be there because it was disruptive to the child and also the SLP.   

 

I'd recommend that you contact any local university with a CSD program,that has its own clinic, and ask for permission to observe the therapy sessions.  Most programs will have no problem allowing you to watch sessions. The best part is that you won't be a disruption to the clinician nor client because the rooms are set up with two-way mirrors and an audio system (headphones or speakers) that allows you to listen to them.  Most of the time, they won't even know that you're watching.  When I did it, the supervisor of the session (an SLP) came in the room to talk to me and answer my questions.  I highly recommend it.  

 

Good luck! 

Edited by CAD
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Sorry to hear about a bad experience observing.  I would also suggest finding somewhere new but don't think it's common in California for universities to allow a "random" person to come view sessions.  My school doesn't even let us go unless our teacher schedules it way in advance and we have to sign papers on privacy and only come during a certain time slot.  It never hurts to check it out though!

 

A local SLP at a public school allows me to come whenever I have time and observe her.  She is AMAZING, it makes me so excited to be in the field and I don't even see her that often.  She always asks me to participate as does her SLP-A b/c sometimes I observe her sessions as well.  My participation is just playing a game with the kids and she ALWAYS tells the kids to introduce themselves and if the kid is shy she says it's good i'm there to help the child get used to new people.  I'm just giving examples of what a good therapist who is helpful is willing to do.  

 

I also volunteer weekly at a private practice.  I sit behind the kids during the session sing songs with them, help them with snack and am allowed to ask questions about what's going on...I will say I feel like I understand what they are working on better at the school.  Which is ironic because I'm at the private practice weekly with the same kids in group therapy haha.  But both therapists have been friendly and gone out of their way to answer any questions.

 

I'd find someone a little more willing to help out.  Maybe the therapist you have is new and isn't quite capable of juggling her therapy and someone observing.  I'm going to sound judgmental, but if she was comfortable with her abilities you being there shouldn't throw such a massive wrench in her therapy sessions.  The profession is one that encourages creativity and problem solving and her asking you to come less often is not really helpful to anyone.  

 

I'm sorry you've had such a negative unhelpful experience.  I want you to hear that what you've experienced is not "typical."  I have a number of friends observing and while they've felt thrown into the process none have reported being told to come less often or felt like a burden to the therapy session.   Good luck!

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I'll come at the question from a different angle: that of a parent whose special needs child has worked with many different SLP's, OT's, and Applied Behavioral Analysis therapists over the years. Especially with the ABA, there is a lot of training of new therapists going on during my daughter's sessions because they learn on-the-job rather than doing a formal grad school practicum like SLP's and OT's do.

 

What makes these kinds of sessions most successful is when the lead therapist actively involves the individual doing the observing/training. Playing a game to target a specific skill tends to work well because then it's more naturalistic to have multiple people involved.

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It sounds like you may benefit from looking for somewhere else to do observations. I observed an SLP in a school setting twice weekly and I never felt like I was a burden or a distraction during therapy. The SLP actually really got me involved and let me play games, pointed out things to notice, and told me about what she was doing and why. She also encouraged me to look through all of her therapy materials and books. She even showed me IEPs and goals. It sounds like the SLP you are observing isn't the best at teaching or dealing with students.

 

I also currently observe in my school's clinic which is nice. We have a camera system so whoever is observing can sit in the observation room and watch therapy sessions on a monitor with headphones. This way there is no possibility of disrupting the session by having observers. I had to sign a confidentiality form to do this but it is nice in that I can go and watch sessions whenever I want. Also, I learn a lot from this since professors/clinic supervisors are often in the room and some are willing to teach/tell me about what is happening during therapy. I would look into a university clinic, if possible. 

 

If you're logging observation hours for the 25 required hours, MasterClinician.org is an easy way to watch therapy sessions online at your own convenience. You'd probably have to check with your program if they accept it for the hours, but I think everywhere does since sessions are all done with certified clinicians. 

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Thank you to all who responded; I am really appreciative of the insight. Definitely looks like I will be contacting a few other clinics and hoping for a better fit. 

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How many are you doing? You don't need more than 25 hrs, and more will not necessarily increase your chances of getting into grad school. Why don't you ask that SLP if s/he knows someone else you could observe?

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If you're logging observation hours for the 25 required hours, MasterClinician.org is an easy way to watch therapy sessions online at your own convenience. You'd probably have to check with your program if they accept it for the hours, but I think everywhere does since sessions are all done with certified clinicians. 

Awesome, I've never heard of this. Thanks for sharing!

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Awesome, I've never heard of this. Thanks for sharing!

 

Yep, MasterClinician is great! I have been completing my observation hours both on Master Clinician and in person at the campus clinic. There are some really good SLPs and a variety of disorders on Master Clinician. I forgot how much it costs, but I am pretty sure it wasn't more than $20 for a year subscription. I will probably watch some sessions for fun over the summer in preparation for grad school! 

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