In honor of BETTER Speech & Hearing Month, I am tackling some answers for BETTER questions we can be asking each other as a profession. Imagine if we started asking some of these thoughtful questions that could elevate and inform how we practice, in contrast with questions that oversimplify what we do such as “What’s your favorite game to play for memory?” Let’s crowd-source our knowledge here! I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts in a comment below or email me: [email protected]
This Week: Can We REALLY Toss The Workbooks?
This argument may be as old as our field itself: The Workbook vs Functional Therapy Debate. The traditional argument talks about workbooks being oversimplified, not translating to a functional environment, and not being supported by best practices.
I want to add a new angle to this debate today, and all comes down to one word: Efficiency. Efficiency affects our everyday practice as clinical SLPs — for our client’s sakes as well as showing our value as an employee, it’s part of our job to meet real life goals as efficiently as possible.
I want to use an analogy to make the point that using a person-centered approach for language and cognitive therapy is a good choice because it is the most efficient way to meet goals. Let me explain with an analogy:
Earlier this year, I decided I wanted to tackle a recipe from the Great British Baking Show. See below for The Goal followed by My Attempt:
It still tasted great, but the overall finish left something to be desired. So, how can I improve at a better Swiss Cake Roll?
Should I practice Painting? — it’s just like spreading the whipped cream.
Another idea: Maybe I should practice other items within the same pastry field: Cookies, Brownies, Scones, etc. They are all related to each other!
Better yet, maybe I could practice rolling hay bales — it’s just the same motion as rolling the Swiss Cake Roll:
Can you see the faulty logic here? We’re trying to make a connection to the Final Goal, but it’s not the most efficient choice. Sure, I could spend my time rolling hay bales and painting and making dough, but is that really going to help me make a better Swiss Cake Roll?
If we’re thinking in terms of efficiency, let’s steal from a frequent phrase in the field of dysphagia: “The best practice for swallowing is swallowing.” I would adapt this to my goal: “The best practice for making a Swiss Cake Roll is Making a Swiss Cake Roll.”
Can you see the similarity when we choose to use workbooks in therapy? We sometimes try to make a link or connect the workbook to a real life task, but that connection is still not the most efficient way to practice the task. If our goal is sending emails with less typos, then we need to practice sending emails. If our goal is better recall for when medications need to be ordered, then that’s what we need to practice. If our goal is better problem-solving for ordering meals in a facility, then that’s what we need to practice. If our goal is better conversation between spouses about what activities someone wants to do in a day, then we need to actually practice those conversations with those conversation partners.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you taken the plunge and transitioned to a workbook-free therapy approach? I’d love to hear what’s helped you so I can share with others. Comment below or email me: [email protected].