I considered naming this post "How to Make Your Home-Visit Therapists LOVE You!"
Providing therapy in a clinical setting is often preferable for both clinicians and clients. Many therapies frequently require a wide range of equipment and materials, and having access to these materials at any time during a session in a clinic is a valuable asset. Additionally, providing services in an environment that is specifically designed for that purpose can frequently assist clients in efficiently meeting therapeutic goals. A professor of mine (Dr. Clifford Madsen) used to say "Control the environment that in-turn controls you!" As a therapist, I would take this to mean that the best way to prevent common problems is to set up my treatment space to avoid these problems in the first place. Assigned seating, hiding known distractors in the room, etc.
That being said, sometimes therapy in a clinical setting just isn't possible, and in-home services are rendered. So what can you do to ensure that your home is set-up to be an efficient therapy setting?
Here are some easy tips that will make your home-visit therapist LOVE you!
1. Prepare for Therapy Beforehand
Parents are busy, especially parents of special needs children. However, preparing your child for therapy 5-minutes before your therapist arrives can make a world of difference. If your child is participating in a leisure activity (such as playing on an iPad) which is abruptly ended every time the therapist enters the room, an association is built between the therapist and fun things being taken away. Ending that leisure time a few minutes before the therapist arrives can cut down on those kind of associations being built.
2. Whenever Possible, Set Aside Special Space for Therapy
When possible, having a specific therapy area in your home can help your child enter therapy time ready to work. As most people who have worked from home will tell you, setting aside work-space from living-space is imperative to a successful home office. There are just too many distractors in our living-spaces!
A therapy area doesn't need to be large. It doesn't even need to be a dedicated room. A small corner will suffice just fine! A small rug is a great way to designate the space as a work-area for your child. If your child works better in a chair, set 2 chairs up on the rug facing each other. Place the area out of the line of sight of distractors like toys, televisions, or computers. When your child enters this space, she will know that it is time to work.
Pro-Tip: Many times, couches and recliners are not conducive to efficient therapy for your child. The urge to sit back and relax is just too great! When possible, use chairs that allow your child to sit up straight and attend to the therapist.
3. Set Up Expectations for Others in the Home for Therapy Time
I've been fortunate enough to work with some clients with parents who did a simply fantastic job of doing this. It's natural for siblings of a child to be interested in what a therapist is doing when working with their brother or sister (especially music therapists, check out all those cool instruments!). I really enjoy taking a few minutes to talk with my clients' siblings to explain what I do and why it's important. But there also comes a time when I must focus on my client and address their goals.
Explaining to siblings beforehand that the therapist is there to work and needs to focus will allow your child's therapist to efficiently address his or her goals.
You're ready to go! AND I gave you an excuse to visit IKEA. Follow those steps and your home-visit therapist will LOVE you forever!