The Need for Parent-Therapist Collaboration

The Need for Parent-Therapist Collaboration

A child’s treatment programs should be a collaboration between parents and therapists. Therapists can guide a child’s development better if they partner with the parents in the treatment plan. The best intervention is one that carries over into the home. A weekly therapy session without the parents’ collaboration and education will not be as effective on child’s development. It is a team approach, like rowing a canoe; you will get to your destination faster and with less energy expenditure when everyone on the boat works together.

Since parents are their child’s first teachers and are the most likely to motivate and influence them, they can incorporate the therapist’s recommendations throughout the day. By doing that, they can (1) provide needed repetition and (2) easily discern what interventions are working well and provide feedback to the therapist. This process not only helps to achieve faster results but also reduces the number of therapy sessions needed-and the total cost. However, when parent-therapist collaboration is weak, the therapist can only rely on data collected during an individual session in a controlled environment, instead of a better understanding of child’s development and skills that were carried over to child’s natural settings. This lack of data can lead to termination of a potentially effective intervention and a waste of time, energy, and money.  Children need a lot of repetition; if the child does not have enough carry over there will be inconsistency, confusion, lack of interest, and frustration.


As a parent, especially if you are a parent with a special need child, you might feel inadequate. You are not alone! This is common with all parents. We are all in the same boat. Just take it one day at a time. Talk to your therapist and start wherever you are comfortable—that is why parent-therapist collaboration is essential for you. You know more than you think so learn to trust your instinct. You see your child in a variety of settings and have the most information you can use. If you are a first time parent, it can be challenging because you might not know what to expect, so use your therapist as your guide.

Here are few practicals for parents:

1) Observe your child’s occupational therapy sessions.

2) Write down your questions during the session or if it is okay with your therapist, ask them during the session.

3) Ask one or two things you can do with your child before the next session.

4) If you are uncomfortable with the implementation, first practice with your therapist.

5) Set up a follow up time for consultation with the therapist.

6) Have your therapist observe you working with your child. This will give the therapist a chance to give you direct feedback.

7) Read the books and articles your therapist recommends.

8) Be willing to try activities at least once and don’t give up if you do not see results right away. It takes time.

9) If you were not able to follow up, tell your occupational therapist why and come up with a better plan next time. Your therapist might have a better idea for your next time.

10) Join parent support groups.

11) Set up playdates with other parents to learn from them.

12) Ask your therapist how to incorporate certain interventions into your daily schedule.

Please feel free to ask question or leave a comment below. I am using this site to create resources for parents and educators to make parent-therapist collaboration easier.

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