the power of preparation…
Nothing pleases me more than observing other therapists at work, and learning from their approaches. I so enjoy the sharing and debating of ideas for treatment that I have not tried before, and understanding someone else’s thoughts. It creates an opportunity for all of us to learn, and for me personally, identifies an opportunity to expand on my knowledge base.
With this silver lining though, comes a dark cloud – the unprepared therapist. Nothing disturbs me more in Vision Therapy than when, in front of a patient, one therapist asks another – “how do I do this activity?” Or worse, when a parent asks a simple question about the basic treatment plan and the therapist’s response is “I don’t know”.
Wait a minute – how do you not know?
If the old cliche’ is true – failing to prepare is preparing to fail – then we’ve got some work to do. When you’re in the business of selling a service – such as VT – perception is everything. The perception of what we are doing, our competence level, our awareness of every patient’s needs, and the power of Vision Therapy as a modality rides heavily on how we answer questions, how we perform therapy, how successful each patient is – which all comes back to the same starting point – how we prepare. Even the most inexperienced therapist can perform effective therapy with some good preparation. Conversely, the most experienced therapist can look inept without some advance knowledge.
I’ve put together some ideas for preparation that I’d like to share:
- KNOW THE PATIENT – Aside from diagnosis, know what grade they are in and what school the attend. Know their reason for coming to VT, and most importantly their goals. Why are they here?
- KNOW THEIR DIAGNOSIS – This is where a briefing from the doctor makes a world of difference. What are the doctor’s findings? What goals does the doctor have for the patient both early in VT and as a bar of completion? Is their diagnosis the result of development or possible a TBI?
- TALK TO THE OTHER THERAPISTS – In the absence of personal dealings with a patient, input from other therapists who have met your patient can be invaluable. What were their experiences, perceptions, and outcomes?
- PLAN YOUR ACTIVITIES – In most offices, the doctor or head therapist will program the activities, but the job doesn’t end there. The therapist working with the patient should always walk through the VT room ahead of time to plan out the location for each activity, locate supplies, and double check equipment. This will not only ensure smoothness of your sessions, but also eliminates the need to search for and repair equipment in front of the patient.
- BE HONEST ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW – There is no shame in not knowing how to perform an activity. We’ve all been there. But there is a time and a place to learn activities, and in front of a patient, is neither.
A lot has been made lately about the efficacy of Vision Therapy; more specifically, the perception that Vision Therapy doesn’t work. We cannot afford to provide ammunition to those that think this way by risking failure through poor preparation. The perception we create for our patients has to be that we have the knowledge of what we are doing, and the confidence that Vision Therapy will help them.
Preparation equals success.