Tips and activities for social skills group and language group via telepractice (teletherapy)

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Social Skills Group or Language Group is a great way to help children learn and practice both their social and language skills with their peers but how is it done via telepractice (teletherapy)? What social skills group activities can be utilized when seeing clients online? Not only will this blog answer those questions, but it will also provide you with a repeatable session plan and activities that can be used for small group language or social skills therapy via telepractice and a list of 20 Youtube videos to utilize as a basis for those lessons.

Some of the most commonly recurring questions coming up in telepractice or teletherapy relate to group therapy such as social skills group or language group.

Questions like:

“How do I treat students or clients with unique individual goals when they are seen in a group?”
“How can more than one client join a session?”
“Is anyone hosting social groups via telepractice?”

First..your answers!

“How do I treat students or clients with unique individual goals when they are seen in a group?”

Ultimately the way to do this is to focus on the big picture. Don’t expect to be able to go through several individual activities with each child while the others sit patiently, and also don’t expect to be able to take data on everything you do. Remember that the point of therapy is not to collect data, the point is to treat the children.

It may be helpful, initially, to list out each client’s goals and lay them next to each other. Find common ground between the students or jot down “umbrella” goals that apply to each of them. For example, let’s say Johnny has a goal to answer wh questions, Michael has a goal to improve conversational turn taking, and Eric has a goal to use complete utterances to request preferred activities. Overall, these children are all working on expressing themselves clearly and engaging in conversation. If you’re incredibly Type A, as many of us are, it might be hard to step back away from their exact goal and realize that with a little bit of differentiation you can make most expressive language activities benefit all three children. Furthermore, if for a big part of the session you aren’t measuring the exact thing you set out to measure, you’re still doing a great job! To continue the example for these children, you could watch a 3-4 minute Pixar Short, pausing every 30-60s to prompt the clients to engage. Prompt Michael to “quiz” his classmate Johnny about something that happened in the video, then ask your own comprehension questions to the group. After the video, provide visual or verbal choices for the next activity and allow Eric to state what he would like to do.

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Don’t forget that facilitating natural discussion between yourself and the social or language group will likely result in many opportunities for them to practice a wide variety of language skills. The more practice you get hosting group teletherapy the easier it will become to differentiate prompts within the group to make sure each individual goal gets a bit of attention, while also focusing on the big picture.

Regarding data, depending on what your setting requires, you may be able to choose one child to take data on per day. Whether you’re lucky enough for that to be the case, or you need to take data on everybody every day, remember than a 10 trial probe is likely sufficient and that you certainly don’t need to judge every attempt as correct or incorrect for a full 45 minutes session! If you know you’ll be seeing a client in a group, make sure you write your goals in a way that makes life easier on you. For example, rather than “will rely on verbal speech for 50% of requests across a 50 minute session” consider writing “will utilize a verbal request at least 5x within one session”.

“How can more than one client join a session?”

This answer, of course, depends on your video conferencing platform. TheraPlatform for example allows one to invite multiple clients to one session.

The other thing to consider is, if your clients are in the same location (e.g., when working with the school population), would it be more efficient to have them sit next to each other in front of one computer rather than having them both log on separately? Possibly, yes. For one, if your client’s internet connection is not the strongest, it’s easier to support one streaming video than it is two. Secondly, if they are planning to sit in the same room on separate computers, the competing audio can cause unpleasant feedback. Finally, having them sit next to each other can facilitate more natural interactions. For example, working on greeting, eye contact, and conversational turn taking is much easier if you can have them try it out with each other in person!

*Important note: if you plan to have multiple clients sit in front of the same computer, remember that they will need to remove headsets and use computer audio only, or they will need a headphone splitter.

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“Is anyone hosting social skills groups via telepractice?”

Quick answer? YES! Social skills groups can work phenomenally via this platform. Maybe clients with social language deficits actually thrive when socializing via a screen. There are often fewer competing environmental distractions, and they may find it easier to make eye contact and stay engaged. Many clients with social deficits also benefit from video models which can easily be shared and discussed via teletherapy. See below for a sample session plan that can be modified for repeated use with a social language group.

Now...your session plan!

• Facilitate a “catch up on current events” activity where each student tells about
something they did or learned since the last session. This is a great time to target
individual goals (e.g., asking them “wh” questions, recasting their language)

• Begin with a review of last week’s topic (e.g., eye contact, greeting, “Say it vs Think

• Transition into the new topic with a brief explanation of the skill you will be
discussing (Use the YouTube video list below to help choose your topic).

• Watch a related YouTube video (e.g., a peer modeling video)

• Quickly probe the children’s ability to perform the skill with a brief activity.

• Administer 1-2 activities using PDF uploads, interactive google doc, website, or just
the video chat

• Again, probe children’s ability to perform skill

• Ask individual students to verbally summarize what was covered; Probe for

Download our free Ultimate Guide to Teletherapy Ebook is a list of possible session topics with 20 corresponding YouTube videos

Eye Contact:

Eye Contact


How To Greet
Introductions and Greetings with Peer Models
Greetings for young children (SONG)

Emotions and Empathy:

Emotions Bingo
Seeing Someone's Else's Side
Take a Break to Calm Down
Being Angry and Safe


Listening with Your Body
Whole Body Listener Song

Conversation Skills:

Think it or Say it
Making Connected Comments
Starting Individual Conversations - Expected Behavior
Starting Individual Conversations - Unexpected Behavior
Starting a Conversation
Two-way Conversations: Don't be a broken record!

Group Conversations and Group Work:

Working in Groups
Joining Group Conversations (UNEXPECTED BEHAVIORS)
Joining Group Conversations 2 (EXPECTED BEHAVIOR)

Note: You can copy and paste these YouTube videos from YouTube to TheraPlatform to watch them during your online session with your clients (students)

No, that’s not a comprehensive list of course, but imagine how much therapy time you could get out of those 20 videos alone! And don’t forget the importance of repetition. You may find you need to circle back to the same topics a few times or spend 2-3 sessions on one skill. Do you have any other go-to YouTube videos for peer modeling?

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