Leeds School of Social Sciences

Virtual Therapy Observation

Final year Speech and Language Therapy student, Elena, reflects on her experience observing a video-therapy session and how this allowed feedback on her own interpersonal skills in a way which would not be possible in a face to face session.
Published on 19 May 2020

Stephanie kindly gave me the opportunity to attend one of her online video-therapy sessions with client who has a stammer. Stephanie sent me the link to an online platform which allowed me to join the session using video.

This was the first experience I have had using an online platform with video calling to complete an SLT session. I was impressed by how well it worked both for an SLT leading a session and for the client. I was able to observe how the aims of the session can be met and tailored to individual needs of a client, when using alternative methods, during this unprecedented time. It has also shown me that as a profession Speech and Language Therapy can continue to help those who need support with their communication, which makes me feel excited and proud to be entering into this line of work.

I was grateful to Stephanie for giving me the opportunity to ask the client some questions (having gained their consent), which allowed me to have an insight of how the client feels that speech and language therapy has supported them with their stammer.

Like any session it is important to acknowledge what went well and what could be improved. There were occasions when the internet connection was disrupted, however the client was proactive in telling Stephanie when they could not hear or understand what she was saying. Therefore, this caused minimum disruption to the session, which enabled Stephanie to repeat what she was saying at the time the connection was disrupted. I feel that this allowed the client to have some responsibility of the session, which may have contributed to them feeling empowered and improve their self-confidence.

Having experienced an online SLT session today, from a student’s perspective, I feel that this offered a great opportunity to gain some clinical experience and practice foundation interpersonal skills, with the additional support from a qualified SLT. Being a final year SLT, I have completed several placements to practice my clinical skills.  I feel that I was able to transfer, maintain and demonstrate the expected level of these skills, that I would use when in a therapy room with a client. Therefore, I feel that this has great benefits for SLT students to experience how to use and apply their clinical skills when in clinic to an online therapy session.

One thing that I was not expecting to gain from doing an online video SLT session, was constant feedback of my own interpersonal skills. Of course, this was not my primary focus, however, it allowed me to see ‘live’ how my body language and facial expressions appeared both in general and when actively listening to Stephanie and the client. I find this feedback method to be a rare opportunity, as I have only experienced this when I watched myself back on a recorded video. I acknowledge however, that for others it may be a distraction to see themselves on video, but for me I felt that this allowed me to see what the client could, which I found very useful and will use what I have learnt to apply to future SLT sessions.

Overall, I feel that the session was a great success. The client was able to actively participate in the session and given regular opportunities to answer Stephanie’s questions without the internet being a major barrier.

The experience of conducting a therapy session using an online platform has enabled me to experience its success and has given me the confidence to use what I have learnt today and apply it to future opportunities.

If I were to have this opportunity again, I would like to ask the client some questions which allows me to gain feedback and their perspective on having therapy using an online video format, as I feel it important to consider the opinions of service users in order to improve future sessions and ensure that the session meets their individual needs. I feel that this would allow me to understand the benefits service users feel about online therapy sessions, and consider any improvements they suggest, both during this uncertain time using online sessions as an alternative and in the future.

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