Clinician Key to Success:
Explaining the 'Why' to Parents
I often tell parents the first time I meet them that one of the biggest contributing factors to therapy progress is parent engagement. Every parent wants to know how long or how much therapy their child will need, and I feel it is extremely important that they understand that they are one of the most important factors in the answer to that question. Once parents know that they are a driving factor in their child’s progress, then it is my job to get them on board with the therapy. Explaining the why to parents makes a big impact on a client’s therapy path.
The ‘why’ could include explaining:
Why have I chosen specific goals for your child?
Why am I using a certain strategy/technique?
Why are we using a certain activity?
Why did I choose a specific stimuli/activity for home practice?
Why is daily practice important?
All of the answers to these questions may seem crystal clear to us as professionals but they often are not for our clients and their families. Our goals, techniques and reasonings can be masked by our toys, activities and crafts. Once a parent can see the ‘why’ through all the smoke and mirrors (no pun intended as I use a mirror in SO much of my therapy), their engagement in session and at home increases!
I also feel that answering these questions for parents helps improve our own services to a client and better think through the decisions we make in therapy sessions and when planning. It feels terrible to confess (especially having solely private practice experience) that there have been times when I cannot answer all the questions I listed above. In those moments, I was lucky to not have a client’s parent ask me one of them.
I recently realized the huge impact of this strategy when I had a stepdad attend his stepdaughter’s speech and literacy therapy session. After describing the home practice for the week (including what level, how often, and how to provide feedback to her), he commented that he felt very well educated on her path in therapy. This is a family who consistently does 20-30 minutes of home practice almost every day between our weekly 45-minute visits and they very rarely cancel a therapy session. Of course, everyone achieves success at their own pace, but explaining the ‘why’ has created an upward trend in my therapy room and I hope it will help you too!
Please join the discussion on Instagram with how you engage client parents, provide good education, or a barrier to this in your therapy room. We can all learn from each other’s stories.
Note: parents here refers to parents, guardians, or any other person who brings therapy home for a client.