Why virtual pocket coaching is a strong parent resource

There’s plenty of discussion about the support offered to kids through telehealth. But can parents receive support with virtual coaching, too? 

We’ve written before about the benefits of virtual autism therapy and ABA therapy as a form of therapeutic support for a child. But many parents and even school psychologists will ask how parents and caregivers themselves can talk through challenges and build constructive solutions. 

In this blog, we’ll help you decide whether a virtual coaching service, which we offer at Psyched Services as pocket coaching, could be a good fit for your family’s needs.

How pocket coaching works – and what it can work for

Our pocket coaching service, a form of teletherapy or telecounseling, connects kids and their parents or caregivers with a behavior analyst who uses proven behavior solutions and the principles of applied behavior analysis, or ABA, to help a child. 

Applied behavior analysis is therapy that emphasizes the development of positive, desired behaviors, and the minimization of undesirable or harmful ones. ABA has been around since the 1960s and, when applied correctly, it can be transformative for kids with autism spectrum disorders. You can read more about ABA here. 

While our pocket coaching serves as an ABA therapy technique for kids, parents also can avail themselves of several sessions of parent coaching. Here are just a few of the situations where a parent might need guidance of their own, parallel to the support their child is receiving:

  • Completing schoolwork at home, or homework assignments
  • A child having difficulty self-regulating, using coping skills, or calming down when overwhelmed
  • Focusing and attending skills
  • Organization skills, such as keeping a daily planner, or deeper things like executive functioning skills
  • Not following directions at home, like helping with simple chores or tasks around the house
  • Difficulty getting along with siblings
  • Having tantrums at home or out and and about, particularly if those tantrums are severe and overwhelming for both you and your child

Below, we’ll address a few other questions a parent or members of a child’s team might have.

Is my child receiving the coaching – or am I?

In this case, the parent is receiving the coaching. This doesn’t replace any support the child is receiving, by any means. What it does do is give the parent or caregiver the tools to handle their children’s behaviors, help their child achieve a goal, or know what to do on their own when something new comes up. 

Does my child need to be diagnosed with a learning disability for me to benefit from coaching?

Your child doesn’t necessarily need to have a diagnosed disability for you to benefit. But most parents who participate in coaching do have a child that has been diagnosed with learning differences, autism, ADHD, or emotional disabilities, including conduct disorders, anxiety, or depression. 

A newer issue post-COVID, such as anxiety that is so severe that it prevents a child from going back to in-person school, may also be suitable for parent coaching along with the support a child is getting at school. 

What are the benefits of pocket coaching when received by the parents?

Families have shared with us that the proven behavior solutions involved in coaching make them feel more confident in knowing how to respond to challenging behaviors. This can include things like building executive functioning skills in a child, like planning or problem-solving, or support for a child following directions at home. 

Pocket coaching in action: Example scenario
A concerned parent reaches out to Psyched Services for a consultation for their son, who isn’t motivated to complete any assignments and is failing several classes. He also never comes out of his room to socialize with the family, and seems to spend most of his time online. 

The behavior analyst would complete an interview with the parent to address all relevant concerns and gather more information about the child’s behavior. They would then develop a plan of action which could include educational materials, behavior strategies, or data collection and propose a plan for how frequently they would meet with the parent. 

Together, the parent and behavior analyst would develop goals, implement strategies and procedures, and track the progress of the parent’s skills and the child’s behaviors. 

In this case, they decide to implement a reward system along with scheduled times where the student could be online. The student earns extra minutes with his favorite computer game for each homework assignment he completes. They develop a goal to increase the number of assignments completed each week and schedule weekly check-ins for 6 weeks to track their progress. 

How long does pocket coaching take?

There are no minimum number of sessions. Often, however, this is a three-month service. To start with, a member of the Psyched Services team, a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), meets with you weekly or bi-weekly, though gradually this can lessen as the situation improves or you feel more confident in your skills.

If you’re curious about pocket coaching and whether it can help you more effectively support your child, schedule a call with us to discuss their needs, including whether it could be effective and helpful for your child’s situation.

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