The “Dream Team” comes to our house every Wednesday to co-treat speech and occupational therapy. Ben is genuinely excited to see them when they walk through the door. When you take his hands to walk, he leads you to his room for therapy to begin. Using behavior and play therapy, and combining speech and occupational therapy techniques, they have come up with a solid format for each session. They use a token board to reward his work and when it is complete, Ben can watch 2-3 minutes of a video. They have had to be flexible too. One sunny day, Ben did not want to leave the front porch, they changed the plan to an outside therapy session. The Dream Team’s communication with us has been great. They sit with us after each session and review what Ben did and what they thought worked well.
But this wonderful story about the Dream Team is a new tale. It used to be that Ben had a revolving door of therapists. A new one would start and my husband would jokingly say to me, “Do they know they’ll be out of here in a few weeks?”
So I have had a lot of experience with private therapists, both office and home visits. I have had therapists who were consistently late or no-shows, talked about their problems with me, diagnosed Ben with muscular dystrophy (she lasted two weeks), were unprepared, talked on their cell phone outside my front door, were perplexed by Ben, did not see Ben as the cutest most loveable boy ever…So I have seen it all.
When it came to “firing” a therapist or discussing delicate topics like lateness, unpreparedness, etc. as “tough” and “to the point” as I am, I always found those discussions difficult. There seemed to be no ground rules or easy reference point to use. Then I started thinking about a “Bill of Rights.”
Many therapy offices when first getting you signed up with their company give you their rules, regulations and procedures. They usually have a lot to do with payment, missed appointments and confidentiality. The other parts of the working relationship are usually not mentioned. Here is my attempt at a Therapy Bill of Rights:
As a therapist, I will, to my best ability, provide the following service during my time with your child:
1. Arrive on time.
2. Call if I will be late or unable to make the appointment.
3. Plan ahead for the session – have a schedule of activities, exercises and games.
4. Ask questions about what motivates your child and what might upset your child.
5. Be flexible – a child may not be up to the set plan that day.
6. Be honest with parents if I think my expertise and skill set may not match the needs of your child.
7. Speak up if I believe I am just not the right fit for this child for whatever reason.
As the parents of this child, we will, to our best ability, provide the following during our working relationship:
1. Arrive on time or be home for the appointment.
2. Stay at home during the session if it is an in-home appointment or be in the waiting room at the end of the office appointment.
3. Be honest with our expectations.
4. Have a room or area ready for the therapy session, if it is at home.
5. Make sure our child is ready for the session, i.e. eaten, been to the bathroom.
6. Cancel the appointment if we will not be available. Call if we will be late.
7. Be honest with the therapist if we feel it is not a good fit for our child for whatever reason.
8. Be honest if we think that the therapist’s expertise and skill set do not match the needs of the child.
9. Keep interruptions to a minimum during the session, i.e. siblings, checking in on my child.
Ideally, this would be handed out to both parties, discussed and signed at the first session. I would recommend that a time is set for review – one month for the first time and then every 6 months.
If you have other items for the Therapy Bill of Rights to add, please feel free to send a comment!