Integrating Therapy Services into the Classroom

Categories: Resources
There are a variety of ways that school based therapists can support students and teams.  Check out this overview post here!  Today, I want to specifically talk about the push-in model of therapy services.  This term describes therapy services that are provided within the natural environment of the classroom.  While push-in therapy may not be appropriate for every student or every skill, I personally feel it is a powerful treatment model that can be very effective and have a positive impact on student progress.    Today, let’s talk about why you might choose the push-in model for your students and tips for implementation.  

When would you use the push-in model? 

As I mentioned, this type of service delivery model may not work for every student and every situation.  Here are some of the times where I like to use the push-in model:

  • Working on functional goals such as school related self care activities, or classroom participation goals.  
  • Generalizing skills to the classroom.  If the student can only perform a skill in one setting it isn’t actually functional. Push-in therapy is great for working on carryover. 
  • Modeling strategies.  When you are present in the classroom, it is easy to model and demonstrate specific techniques  and strategies to help the student in the moment, instead of just talking about it. Modeling can be so powerful. 
  • Collaboration.  I feel like I can be more helpful to my team when I spend time in the classroom and understand how it runs. If I’m only pulling out the student, i don’t understand fully the environment within which the student is learning most of the day. Once I understand that, I can more readily offer realistic, personalized strategies for the specific classroom context. 

How can the push-in therapy model work in the classroom?

Whether you are a teacher or therapist, the following tips may be helpful as you work with your team to figure out the best way to integrate therapy into the classroom.

  • Make it make sense.  Depending on my student goals, I look to choose times in the school day that it would make sense to push into the classroom.  For example, if a student has an arrival routine goal, I will reach out to the teacher to ask when the arrival routine is.  Being present during these key classroom routines is everything!
  • Clear expectations.  In order for the push-in model to be successful, it helpful that everyone is on the same page in regards to their roles during this time.  For example, if I am pushing into the classroom during writing time, I do my best to talk with the teacher about what that looks like and what activities may be worked on ahead of time.
  • Find a time to touch base outside of the push in therapy time.  It is not ideal to discuss specific student progress and plans while students are present in the classroom.  Even if it is five minutes, try to find a time to touch base as a team when students are not present in the room.
  • Be flexible.  If it doesn’t make sense anymore, it is ok to change!  Let’s say after providing some push in services, you find you need more time out of the classroom to practice a certain skill, or maybe you split your time between pull out and push in.  Monitor student progress and talk with your team to continue to provide the best service delivery model possible for that student’s unique needs.
In some ways, push-in therapy can be a little more challenging to implement than pull- out therapy. However, with a little extra planning, it can be incredibly helpful and effective.  I have found that many of my teachers actually prefer that I work with students in the classroom during natural classroom activities and routines.  Do you utilize the push-in model of therapy services?  


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