Communicative Patterns in Speech and Language Therapy Sessions Conducted With Adults in Telehealth Settings in New Zealand
The communication between a speech and language therapist and a client is without a doubt one of the most effective elements in stuttering therapy. The way therapists and their clients communicate with each other during stuttering therapy may vary depending on whether therapy sessions are conducted face-to-face or online by teletherapy. Teletherapy is increasingly used for stuttering therapy, as it alleviates time and travel constraints, so it is important to understand communicative patterns during teletherapy. This study describes the most frequently occurring communication patterns between a therapist and a client during teletherapy sessions for stuttering in New Zealand. This study employed a Qualitative Descriptive methodology. The data for this study was generated through four video-recordings of stuttering teletherapy sessions to get insight on what happens during communication in a stuttering session, and four semi-structured interviews to understand participant’s perspectives about their communication experiences. The video-recordings were analysed using Qualitative Content Analysis and Conversation Analysis. Participant responses to the semi-structured interviews were not analysed and only employed to ensure the accuracy of analysis of video-recordings and give larger context to the available data. The three most frequently occurring patterns in stuttering teletherapy involved the therapist providing information and the client’s agreement in response; the therapist’s open-ended questions and the client’s cognitive-behavioural or affective explorations; and the client’s cognitive-behavioural or affective explorations with the therapist’s communicative behaviour of approval. The findings of this study showed that communication through teletherapy did not limit the therapist. The therapist helped the client with physical or psychological factors associated with stuttering. The effectiveness of communication through teletherapy may differ depending on the age of the client, the experience of the therapist and the client in using teletherapy or occurrence of technical issues in teletherapy. This study however did not find any conflicts in communication.