An Online Occupational Therapy Session across 3 continents of the world. Distance is no barrier.

Online TherapyAs an occupational therapist I provide online therapy services to families where it is difficult for them to find face-to-face therapists. Who would have thought I could conduct a session spanning 3 continents of the world. Well I did.

I was familiar with providing online therapy sessions to families living in Australia and overseas. But one great family and their 5 year old son, Tom were a bit special.

They lived in Asia and couldn’t find a suitable occupational therapist nearby. I became their therapist despite living in Australia. We had weekly sessions via videoconferencing using Skype for a period of time. The therapy session focus was always to support Tom with his sensory processing differences and develop his planning and organizational skills. We were making some great progress at around the time the family were due for their extended summer holiday break, where Tom was going to stay with a family friend in Italy for 4 weeks.

Guess what? They decided to take me with them on their son’s holiday to Italy!

No. I did not physically go to Italy, rather our online sessions continued whilst they were in Italy.  It so happened that the family friend was an early childhood teacher and very interested in the occupational therapy session content.

During the 4 weeks Tom, his Italian teacher and I had weekly sessions. We had to find the best time of day to manage the 8-hour time difference.  During our session together we explored how to integrate daily sensory experiences that met Tom’s unique needs in his new holiday environment. He had daily “heavy play” activities such as throwing large rocks into the nearby creek, long bike rides and hammock swings.

We also collaborated on how to create visual supports for him to increase his independence and organization around certain times of the day. He tried a new holiday timetable broken into morning, afternoon and night activities that he could select from.

We also trialed a range of sensory supports to help with calming and self regulation. Tom created a scrapbook to help him learn about what sensory strategies worked best for him in finding that “calm alert” state needed for play, helping and holidaying.

All holidays come to an end and Tom was joining his family for further adventures in France. Unfortunately I could not join them on that adventure. With Tom in Italy and his family still in Asia we needed to meet to catch up on all of the great new discoveries and achievements that Tom had made whilst in Italy. I suggested we try a 3-way videoconference. Asia, Italy and Australia. Could it work? We found a suitable time that we could all meet (a challenge across 3 time zones!). Three key people to support Tom, across three continents of the world, with three different time zones meeting to share ideas, thoughts and progress. We did it. It worked. We all marveled at how easy this was. Tom’s family were able to continue meaningful and effective therapy whilst he was on the other side of the world. This is because this family chose to use online therapy or teletherapy, provided by me.

Teletherapy is available to anyone. This story highlights that no matter the distance and isolation, effective therapy supports can be provided using teletherapy or online therapy. I imagine what could be achieved in Australia with the vast distances we have, by using teletherapy.

About Therapy Connect

Therapy Connect is a therapy service offering high quality teletherapy supports online using videoconferencing.  “We offer a coordinated team approach meaning that families can access Therapy, Anywhere, Anytime”.

“We collaborate and work in partnership with families for the benefit of their child. We share our knowledge and skills. Using videoconferencing, we can observe children in various settings and situations to understand their likes, dislikes, strengths, interests and needs”.

“We help the family link therapy strategies into daily routines at home, childcare, kinder and school. We can provide online therapy supports across all of the child’s settings such as home, childcare, playgroup, kinder and school”.

Therapy Connect is owned and operated by Simone Dudley and Sue Cameron. Simone is an Occupational Therapist with over 20 years clinical experience working in paediatrics across both the public and private sectors in rural & regional NSW.

Sue Cameron is a Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist with more than 25 years experience working in health and education. Together they are passionate about ensuring country people have access to high quality services.

Contact Therapy Connect to find out how we might be able to help you.

Loanne M, Wootton R. A review of telehealth. Med Princ and Prac 2001; 10(3): 163-170

Can’t find an Occupational Therapist? Try online therapy!

Teletherapy is online therapy using videoconferencing technology.

 It can be hard finding or getting in to an occupational therapist if you live in a remote, regional or outer metropolitan area. Even some families living overseas find it hard to find an English-speaking therapist nearby to support them. All of the travel, expense, time taken from work and school activities make it difficult to access therapy for many families.

There is an alternative. Online Therapy. Teletherapy.

Teletherapy refers to the delivery of services where the therapist and client are separated and use technology such as videoconferencing to conduct a therapy session. Telepractice provides the opportunity for instant communication across geographic distance, facilitating access to therapy services for people living in rural and remote areas. (Loanne & Wootton, 2001)

How does it work?

The Therapist and the family prepare for the session in advance so resources needed are at hand or emailed through. The therapist, parent/carer and child have a session much like they would if in a clinic, however the emphasis is on coaching the parent/carer through the session to work on therapy goals.

Consider a family who lives in rural Victoria, with two children diagnosed with Autism. Their closest available therapist is a 2.5 hour drive with long waiting lists.

Within a week an appointment for a teletherapy session was arranged. The family stayed in their home for the session and used their own computer. The therapist used videoconferencing software to provide therapy supports from her office over the Internet. The supports included coaching around toileting and managing sensory processing differences in daily routines. This was so effective that the family then requested an additional teletherapy session with the school teacher and team psychologist. This needed to be done before school, which was now possible because no travel time was required. A 3 way Skype with the therapist, psychologist and teacher was conducted to address school participation and how best to support anxiety.

This level of therapy support for this family was only possible because of teletherapy.

There are many benefits when using online therapy.

Its Easy: You can make an appointment at a time that suits at a frequency that suits. You are not locked in to a visiting therapist’s timetable and as such can have as frequent appointments as you need at times that suit you.

It works: There is evidence that teletherapy outcomes are as effective as face to face therapy outcomes.

No travel or expense: There is no time or money spent on travelling to appointments.

Children stay in their natural settings: Therapy sessions can be conducted at home, childcare, kindergarten or school. Children are in their natural settings.

About Therapy Connect

Therapy Connect is a therapy service offering high quality teletherapy supports online using videoconferencing.  “We offer a coordinated team approach meaning that families can access Therapy Anywhere Anytime”.

“We collaborate and work in partnership with families for the benefit of their child. We share our knowledge and skills. Using videoconferencing, we can observe children in various settings and situations to understand their likes, dislikes, strengths, interests and needs”.

“We help the family link therapy strategies into daily routines at home, childcare, kinder and school. We can provide online therapy supports across all of the child’s settings such as home, childcare, playgroup, kinder and school”.

Therapy Connect is owned and operated by Simone Dudley and Sue Cameron. Simone is an Occupational Therapist with over 20 years clinical experience working in paediatrics across both the public and private sectors in rural & regional NSW.

Sue Cameron is a Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist with more than 25 years experience working in health and education. Together they are passionate about ensuring country people have access to high quality services.

Contact Therapy Connect to find out how we might be able to help you.

Loanne M, Wootton R. A review of telehealth. Med Princ and Prac 2001; 10(3): 163-170