Mastering Early Intervention: Effective Parent Coaching Strategies for SLPs

Hi friends! 
If you've been around my social media or a regular in my emails, you'll know that Early Intervention has a special place in my heart. This age group is one I've worked with extensively and exclusively at times! 
Over the years, our state agency (named Early Steps-but this can vary state to state!) has been adamant about moving to a parent coaching model as best practice. This was a tough change for many of us to implement-both parents and us therapists at times! But I can confidently say that moving to this type of therapy will dramatically affect your outcomes and help parents see the difference it can make
In today's new blog post, let's chat about that initial conversation we need to have with parents/caretakers when using this type of therapy. Whether you're starting with a new family or have decided to implement parent coaching with a family you've worked with for a while, it's best to set the expectations at the beginning and be clear about what will be expected! 
📌 First
Lead with Compassion and Empathy
These parents and caregivers have just been informed that their child demonstrates a delay or disorder that impacts their communication ability. This can be a hard time and we don't want to come in acting like a dictator, but rather a partner in progress! Choose your words and actions wisely.
📌 Second
Set Expectations
Let the parent know that you're an advocate for parent coaching instead of direct therapy and that your therapy will look differently than what they've imagined. You will be introducing and explaining different strategies and tips for them to utilize in their everyday life. For them to fully understand these strategies, you'll need them to be active participants. Active participants who will be asked to stay in close proximity to the therapy so they can observe, practice, and then utilize the strategies you provide. 
📌 Third
Set Your Boundaries
This can look like telling the parents they cannot leave during sessions, you will not be going into another room to do therapy, and/or that you are not a babysitter, but a resource for them! Feel out the parent on this; sometimes I know a parent will NEVER ask those things of me and other times….well, you know the horror stories. 
📌 Last
Inform Them
Give them a reasonable outline of what the session may look like. In a parent coaching session, what this may look like is: 
  1. Following up and discussing the previous session's strategies and education
  2. Introducing, expanding on, and educating parent on new strategies or tips for use this session
  3. Demonstrating Strategies to them directly
  4. Coaching parents through using them with the child
  5. Giving feedback and assigning “homework” for them to complete throughout the week
My Tip for This? 
Give a concrete visual reminder of what you practiced and what you want the parent to work on. Even better? Provide self-reflection forms so when the parent does attempt the strategy during their time, they can let you know how it went or what they need help with. It's easy to forget these moments a few days later, so writing it down throughout the week can help drastically with identifying factors that are affecting a child's speech and language progress! I developed the Early Intervention Handouts and Carryover Support for this exact purpose! 
Ready to dig deep with parent coaching, how to make it successful, and more tips and tricks for therapy sessions? Then I highly recommend taking the Early Intervention Academy course for SLPs! It is jam packed with useful information and strategies you can start utilizing today, among numerous parent handouts.
Let me know in the comments if this is helpful!
Happy Speeching!
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