The lull in motivation to continue with cognitive or speech therapy so often hits our clients. And how could it not – often therapy is a lifelong process for them, and that can be discouraging – after previously having all of the skills on which we’re working with them. Finding ways to keep our clients engaged and motivated to continue to give 110% in therapy can be tricky – here are five suggestions to keep that motivation on track.
- Drive home the relevance of cognitive and speech therapy tasks to your client’s everyday lives. Often we know exactly why we’ve chosen specific therapy tasks to work on – but our clients may have no clue. I make a chart when creating a schedule for a therapy session – in one column is what we’re doing and in the other column is the WHY. In other words, explain how a therapy task will help your client succeed in everyday life.
- Show your client how far they’ve come. Be concrete – real data can be great for this! Show them a chart of their skill progression. Ask their loved ones to provide examples of daily activities the client wasn’t previously able to do on their own. Talk about goals and accomplishments.
- Mix up your therapy approach. Sometimes when our clients get tired and dejected during speech therapy, we as therapists need to mix things up. Maybe it’s time to try out that new approach you read about in this month’s ASHA magazine!
- Make a concrete road map. Choose a life skill your client really wants to work on, and work with them to make a plan for how they can return to that skill. It’s important to guide your client to pick an attainable skill – but once you’ve got that skill down, work with your client to come up with the steps leading up to that goal. Involve family members when possible. Then you’ll have the fun (and sense of accomplishment) of crossing off each step along the way!
- Choose therapy tasks that revolve around client interests. For example, if your client is an avid gardener, see if you can work on following directions while planting (“put the pink flowers next to the purple flowers”). If your client loves cars, choose car magazine articles to work on reading together. Use your client’s interests to drive your cognitive and speech therapy – not only will your client be more motivated, but they’ll also appreciate your personal interest and attention to their interests.
Clinicians, what tips do you have to keep your clients engaged and motivated? Tell us in the comments below.