You're an SL-What?: Life of a Private Practice Owner/SLP

My friend Caitlin up next in the You're an SL- What? series! Cait and I have known each other, essentially, our entire lives and I LOVE that we share a passion for the same work. She is a phenomenal SLP and even better human. I adore her and am honored to have her input for this series!

My name is Caitlin and I’m an SLP who owns a private practice! I received my undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Tulsa (Blow Cane!!) where I worked under exceptional SLPs that helped mold me into the therapist I am today. 
         This is my fourth year practicing as a speech-language pathologist. I began my career as a SLP in the school setting, which is not where my undergrad or graduate self thought I ever would be. I worked three years for a public school system before zoning in on my real passions, private practice and early intervention. It began my third year as a school SLP when I was approached to do some at-home therapy on the side for a couple of kids. I quickly saw the benefits of using a child’s natural environment to promote early language skills and use parents and siblings as models in therapy. 
I now own a small private practice in the Tulsa area, Motor Mouth Therapy, that provides in-home speech therapy services for children of all ages and disorders. A colleague and I saw the need and benefits of at-home therapy and took a leap of faith by pursuing our passions. I also am a Clinical Supervisor of Northeastern State University in their graduate SLP program where I help graduate students take the material learned from the classroom and apply it to therapy practices.  When I’m not working or chasing around my 2-year old son (which really only leaves me with time at night), I am working on my EdD through Creighton University. I plan to use my positions to help with my doctoral research in the area of early-intervention. 

How did you learn about our field? Why did you become an SLP?
I, luckily, grew up exposed to the field of speech-language pathology. My older sister was born with developmental disabilities so I grew up tagging along with her to all her therapies. I even grew up calling my sister “good girl” because that’s what I constantly heard her therapists say to her. So, I always knew I wanted to be involved in intervention therapies in some way. I had the privilege of seeing benefits of interventions from a family perspective and always felt passionate about working with children with special needs. 

What population do you serve? How is this different from other settings?
Motor Mouth Therapy sees children of all ages (0-18) which gives us a wide range diagnoses we see and treat. I tend to take on all of the clients who have limited verbal abilities or use some form of augmentative communication. I love working with clients who use AAC. I think some professionals and parents have a misconception of AAC and somewhat fear it; however, I’ve seen the incredible benefits of using all forms of AAC in therapy, from no-tech to high-tech. I’ve witnessed clients with limited verbal abilities become more intelligible and verbal with the assistance of AAC and have seen how behaviors can be diminished once a child has a mode of communication to express themselves. This is what I consider my personal specialty; though, Motor Mouth is composed of SLPs of various specialities to help us serve a wide range of clients. 

What’s your biggest challenge?
The most difficult aspect of private practice is dealing with insurance companies for therapy reimbursement. For my private practice, this was the biggest learning curve for me and though I am more competent in the area, it is still extremely time consuming. I know as our company expands, I will likely have to contract out for billing services; however, I appreciate the knowledge I have acquired from doing my own billing for the time being. 

What’s the greatest reward for you?
The greatest reward of my job probably seems so simple to some but I thrive off of seeing children learn to communicate with their parents or guardians. Like I said, I grew up with my sister who has multiple disabilities and I always heard the gut wrenching stories of other children with disabilities who were nonverbal and how heartbreaking it was as a parent to not be able to communicate with their child. I think this is really what drove my passion to enter the field and specifically help this population of kiddos. 

What has been one of your favorite experiences as an SLP?
I love the family-like network the field of speech-language pathology has brought me. From jobs to starting my private practice, I have heavily relied on this network of professionals and am extremely thankful for what I’ve learned from each of them. To me, that’s the most exciting thing about speech-language pathology. Our field is small enough to feel like a family yet broad enough to be constantly evolving, learning, and innovating. 

If you could teach the world one thing about our field that most people don’t know, what would it be?
I wish more people understood the power of communication and what our field does for the world entire. When I tell people about speech-language pathology, I always mention how communication is life and encourage them to imagine what the world would be like if they were unable to express their thoughts or be easily understood by everyone in their environment. I think it’s easy for people to see the importance of physical therapy and occupational therapy because those needs are often more visible; however, communication is often overlooked as a “need” when it’s not always so visible to the world. 

Thank you SO much, Cait! Our field and your patients are so lucky to have you! I love watching you soar, my friend!


Secrets to Keeping New Year's Resolutions + Bonus Book List for 2019

It’s that time of year again. 
You know, the beginning of the year. 
“New Year, New Me!” 
“This is the year I’m going to __________.” 
“No, really, THIS is THE year I will _______.”

I used to scoff at resolutions and think they were just silly, overrated promises to be broken in approximately 12.5 days, if they even lasted that long. Now, especially after the hellacious year that 2018 proved to be, I welcome the opportunity for a new beginning, fresh start, clean slate, (insert other cliche here.) I believe that every day, every minute we’re breathing is the opportunity for a new beginning. But there’s something about a brand new year and all of it’s uncertainty that is a little exhilarating. It gives you the same “I can do ANYTHING” bravery and boldness that you got the first time you watched Legally Blonde when Elle got over Warren AND became a badass lawyer!

I have found that some resolutions I stick to and some I don’t. The difference between the two isn’t my behavior but the bar that I have set for myself. For example, last year my resolution was to self-care harder than ever before. That’s easier to do when life isn’t throwing a million curve balls at you. So, I could say that for the first 4 months of the year, I was pretty good at it. The last 8, not so much. So, did I meet my goal for the year? Well.. umm… maybe, a little? Kinda?

There wasn’t a concrete definition of what I had resolved to do for 2018. I knew what my vague, long-term goal was, but what was I going to do to achieve it? Workout? Take time for a bubble bath? Mani/pedi? Go to my counselor?Meditate? Massage? Break up with bad friends? And how many times? How often? 

Since there were no set steps or parameters for what I was hoping to achieve, it was easier for me to put it off and push it to the side when life had knocked me down and I didn’t feel like doing all the self-care and feeling all the self-love. “I’ll take better care of myself tomorrow. I’ll workout tomorrow. I’ll take a bubble bath tomorrow.”

So, here’s my plan for 2019. 

My word of the year is “intention.” 2018 taught me just how quickly we can be taken from this world and that every day, we should live with intention instead of just floating through the world, taking it as it comes. I have set intentions for myself for 2019. These are all things that will help hold me accountable to be the best version of who I envision myself to be. Each of these small intentions will help me to live a life of purpose, to live every day of my life ON purpose. I want to direct my life and really LIVE it vs letting life just happen. 

Some of my intentions include:
52 walks with my dog, Betty -once per week (she goes to the dog park every day and daycare x2/week, I'm a good dog mom, I promise.)
52 workouts
52 meditations
52 bubble baths
52 gratitude/prayer journal entries
26 church services (shooting for every other week)
24 blog entries (twice per month)
20 books 
1 solo trip -I want to travel somewhere all by my lonesome
5 dives -likely to be completed on my solo trip
5 classes -to try new things
15 new TpT products
12 new recipes -to expand my limited cooking skills

The sum of these intentions is a healthier, more balanced version of Sarah. Each of these intentions that I have set are specific, and quantifiable. I’ve planned them in a way that I either achieve it or I don’t. There’s no gray area. All of my intentions are written be completed in a specific quantity, mostly in relation to the number of weeks or months in a year (to make me more consistent.) For example, meditating 52 times means that I’ll be meditating once per week, but also gives me the wiggle room to make up a missed meditation during another week should I need to. 

The quantity of each goal was written to increase consistency of these behaviors in my life. Consistency is an area that I struggle with, which is why my resolutions typically make it 12.5 days.  As I was setting these intentions, I thought, “I should try to workout twice per week instead of once, that’s not THAT hard.” It’s really not, but I care more about being consistently intentional with my time to become a better/healthier/happier version of myself than I do about losing weight or getting in shape. Those things come when you’re consistent and if I want to workout more than once a week, even better! I’m free to workout every dang day should I decide to, but my goal is to be consistently intentional and I KNOW that I can do that with these simple, small changes that will ultimately lead to bigger results. Small changes over time is the key to seeing not only big changes, but sustainable, long-term changes. 

I made this fancy, schmancy goal tracker with the quantity for each intention in Keynote and decorated it with some of my favorite quotes about consistency. This will allow me to hold myself accountable and to see my progress as the year goes on.  Each time I complete one of these intentions, I can fill in the box to close in on my goal for the year. It's a visual countdown to the end of the year, at which point these things should be habitual behaviors. If I can see that I’m not progressing on any given line, I know which areas I need to focus on. 
(Mine is currently blank. I colored this one to demonstrate how it works.)

I will also schedule these activities in my planner as another way to ensure that I’m being intentional with my time and not passively going through the motions of the week. (I LOVEEEE a good planner and to make it even more fun, I’m going to make stickers for my more frequent activities to jazz up my planner! Who doesn't love planner stickers?!)

My Secrets to Successful Resolutions
1. Set resolutions that are meaningful to the big picture of Y-O-U!
2. Set resolutions that are attainable. (Going to the moon or reading 300 books might be a little bit out of reach for 365 days.)
3. Set resolutions that you can measure or determine if you met them or not. (This will hold you accountable and motivate you to keep striving towards them.)
4. Set small goals that add up to the big goal. Celebrate the small ones just as much as the big one! (How many times will you need to do X to achieve Z?)
5. Write them down and share them with people who care about you and will encourage you.
6. Add the necessary steps to your planner so they don't get lost in the shuffle. Planning ahead is key to having time!
7. Create some way to track your efforts and progress. (food log, journal, check list, tracker, etc.)
8. Remember that every minute is the chance to start again!

On December 31, 2019, I hope that I am a healthier, happier, more balanced, grounded, and intentional version of the pretty spectacular person I am on January 1, 2019. I hope the same for you as well!!

One of my intentions this year is to read 20 books! Sounds like a lot but I’ve come up with a list of 35 that I’m REALLLYYY excited about so I think it should be pretty easy! I started The Alice Network today while snuggled up with my pup. I'm only a couple of chapters in, and I'm hooked!!

Here’s the list of books that I’m excited about this year as well as some of my favorites that I’ve read already. I made them all links so you can find the full description and add it to your cart!

2019 Reading List
  1. The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren
  2. Over My Head: A Doctor's Own Story of Head Injury from the Inside Looking Out  by Claudia L. Osborn
  3. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  4. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
  5. Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi
  6. Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff
  7. Girl Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
  8. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  9. Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
  10. The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
  11. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
  12. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  13. It's Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered by Lysa TerKeurst
  14. Love Lives Here by Maria Goff
  15. The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington
  16. Brave Love: Making Space for You to Be You by Lisa Leonard
  17. We're Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
  18. Pussy: A Reclamation by Regena Thomashauer
  19. Things I Wish I Knew Before My Mom Died: Coping with Loss Every Day by Ty Alexander
  20. The Digital Marketing Handbook by Robert W. Bly
  21. Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by
  22. Love Does by Bob Goff
  23. Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley
  24. Eating, Drinking, and Overthinking: The Toxic Triangle of Food, Alcohol, and Depression--and How Women Can Break Free by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema
  25. Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life by Gary John Bishop
  26. All Marketers Tell Stories by Seth Godin
  27. I'm Fine and Other Lies by Whitney Cummings
  28. Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  29. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
  30. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
  31. Body Love: Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself from Food Drama Forever by Kelly LeVeque
  32. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
  33. The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy
  34. Altered Traits by Daniel Goleman
  35. Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown

Some of My Faves
  1. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  3. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
  4. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
  5. How to Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  6. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
  7. What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman
  8. The Single Woman by Mandy Hale
  9. Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander MD
  10. Hope in the Dark by Craig Groeschel
  11. 10% Happier by Dan Harris
  12. Native Son by Richard Wright
  13. My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD
  14. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Album
  15. The Hunger Games Series
  16. The Twilight Series
  17. The Divergent Series
  18. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  19. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  20. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  21. Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
  22. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  23. 1984 by George Orwell
  24. The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx
  25. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
 If you haven't tried kindle and are planning on reading as many books as I am, check this out! You get unlimited books and they're all on your phone or tablet!

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