Benefits of Group Therapy

It was 2002, and I watched as Julie, my practicum supervisor, sat down with two first graders to read Mouse Paint.  I watched as she saw not one but two students at the same time.  My young SLP mind was blown, and I relished in every detail—her ability to address individualized goals, her skills for engaging both personalities and her flexibility in navigating the nuances of increasing the number of humans in the same space.  In those few months, I quickly saw the benefits of group speech therapy:

  1. Students saw peers working on their communication—this comforted their hearts.
  2. Students used their communication skills within a social context—this makes communication more functional.
  3. SLP effectively supports her caseload in a functional manner.

Group Needs

Now, let’s fast forward to 2016, and I am on my way to pull a group of 7 students to work on their articulation and language skills.  Here is what the group looks like:

  • 4 kindergarteners, 3 first graders
  • 6 students working on language goals (story retell, answering questions, correct verb tense, describing)
  • 1 student working on his /s/ and/z/ sounds
  • 2 students with attentional needs

SLP Needs

As the speech-language pathologist, here is what I need:

  • One activity to address ALL goals
  • Data
  • Engaged students

4 Steps for Group Speech Therapy Using One Book

When it comes to therapy, I will use a book.  Why?  It allows me to address all areas of speech-language therapy, it is a tool used in general education classrooms (aligning to the curriculum) and it’s a functional activity.  Typically, I use one book for the month.  This month, I am reading one of my favorites, A Chair for My Mother.  This book is age-appropriate (4-9 years), has beautiful visuals (Caldecott Honor) and incorporates the themes of working hard, family and community support.

    1. Review goals. I reviewed each student’s “job” for the delay.  “I work (clap, clap).  I work (clap, clap).  I work on telling a story.”
    2. Review story grammar. Collectively, the student recite the story grammar rap. The student working on this /s/ sound is asked to drill on the following words from the rap:  story, characters, setting, what’s, solution, solve. Here is a sample of Jessie showing us the parts of a story.

3.Describe. The students are then asked to select their favorite scene to draw.  While drawing, students are asked to describe their scene.  Personally, I like to use tenets of Linda Mood-Bell’s Visualizing and Verbalizing program.  In a nutshell, without the ability to visualize and describe what we hear, it’s difficult to answer questions, understand information and make inferences about the material.  The following is discussed when describing:  name of item, category, color, size, shape, texture, sound, perspective and background.   The student working on his articulation is repeating phrases and sentences containing the /s/ and /z/ sounds in a drill format while drawing and coloring his picture.

4. Sequence. Upon completion of the drawings, the students are then asked to put their pictures in sequential order.

Literacy-Based Speech and Language Therapy Activities

In the next session, the students will put all of the pictures in order in a line.  While jumping on each picture, they will describe each scene and subsequently retell the story.   And, there you have it—a group speech therapy session using one book to address various communication needs!

We’ve created a book filled with language intervention tools and activities.   If you want to implement great speech therapy without having to spend loads of time, give yourself the gift of Literacy-Based Speech and Language Activities.

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