Reenergizing the Experienced Therapist

Deanna Macioce, MS, OTR/L

January is the month of resolutions. Many people flock to the gym, start to eat healthier or read more. Whatever it is, the beginning of a new year or season is a great time to reassess ourselves, even within our professional lives. Whenever we are doing something on an ongoing basis for a long time, it becomes habit and is often done without much thought. And although being a therapist in pediatrics is always very dynamic, we often get stuck in a rut. So, with the beginning of a new year, now is an excellent time to "respark" and re-energize ourselves and treatment activities.

  1. Get Organized - It is a great time to clean off the desk, clean out the trunk of the car, and sift through all those piles of activities sheets and materials. As pediatric therapists, we are known for having our "bags of goodies" that help us make therapy sessions fun. Clean them out, rediscover the items at the bottom, and refocus the use and need for them. The same thing goes for the toy/activity closet. It is amazing when we find an old favorite and rediscover how to add it into our treatment sessions. Remember that something old and overused to us is often something new and exciting to a child.
  2. Learn Something New - Almost all therapists are required to do some continuing education either by their state or national board. This year, set out to learn something new. This becomes more difficult for experienced therapists, but challenge yourself to explore all the on-site and online courses offered. With the use of technology, it is sometimes easier to find more appropriate and cheaper options that fit your level of knowledge. So, this year put the time in to research something new.
  3. Read More - Finding spare time to almost do anything extra gets more and more difficult for many therapists. The demands of life and kids, increased workloads and additional obligations sometimes take us away from reading and learning new things. As new therapists, we were often found looking up new diagnoses, researching ideas, and often having conversations about our caseloads, but as we become more experienced, it is no longer a priority. So, this year, find a new blog or Facebook group of interest to join. Sometimes the shorter reads or discussions are just enough to jump-start our brains and keep on learning!
  4. Plan - With all the cleaning organizing, and reading of new things, you will be able to plan treatment sessions with ease. As experienced therapists, we can easily "wing it" knowing what activities will help address what goals. So, challenge yourself to plan and organize one new treatment activity or one child's sessions per week.
  5. Connect - Make sure you are using your "therapeutic use of self," especially with those children you have had on your caseload for years. In the area of pediatrics, it is not uncommon to treat children from 7 years old to 12 years old. That is 5 years of therapeutic sessions.  And although there is often a bond, connection and comfort level with both the family and child, always take a step back to make sure the "use of self" is correct. In addition, assess if whether or not a therapist change may be in order.
Now is a great time to rediscover what you love about being a therapist and find the fun in the day-to-day schedules. Happy purging, happy treating!