A box has four sides, a bottom and a top, or lid. Think of each side of this box as one of the 5 w's: who, what, where, when, why (and one h, how)
Who: the population you are working with or wanting to work with. Do you have a passion for one group over another? Do you seem to gravitate to one or does your practice naturally fill with certain populations over others (fetal alcohol, dyslexia, autism, auditory processing disorder, adhd, preschool, middle school, adult)
What: this is the therapy you offer? ~ Interactive metronome, Integrated Listening Systems, Irlen screening, Search and Teach, Lexercise/Orton-Gillingham, NILD, ET2, tutoring are mine. Think about your programming, what you can offer from your toolbox and what you would like to continue to research/investigate. Continued education is critical to stay updated and current
Where: do you have your office out of your home? Are you in a clinic? Do you work online? (Webex, Skype, FaceTime) and what are the reasons for your location or setting. Is it working or does it need to change?
When: Do you offer your services before and after school only, in the evenings, on weekends or do you suggest parents pull their children out of school to have therapy during the day? Is it twice a week for 90 minutes, 60 minutes, 45 minutes, half an hour? Is it part in your therapy office and part at home? What is the best prescription?
Why: this is based on assessments, data-driven, measurable goals for accountablilty for you as a therapist (is the client achieving the set goals or are they wasting their money?) what are the perhaps “less obvious” reasons for the therapy and how can those needs be met within a best practice framework?
How: this is the lid of the box and absolutely must be not only opened, to see inside all the coursework, training, skills and experiences you as a therapist have to offer BUT, most importantly, all of the stuff needs to be taken OUT of the framework of the box (the training) and laid out on the table. This is where the real work and fun begins … personality comes in to play as each therapist brings their unique personality to blend with the client and real learning takes place in a symbiotic way. This is what “out of the box” thinking needs to look like. Don’t throw out the box, don’t downplay the importance of structure and framework, as training and expertise are important.
Just as clothes aren’t made to fit perfectly right off the rack, techniques are meant to be tailored, too. the best learning comes through discovery. So, keep the box for all the items in your toolbox, but don’t be afraid to put it to the side while you work.