27: Nature-Based Speech Therapy for Children with Carolyn Parker M.A. CCC-SLP

I’m really excited because today’s guest is the first one who isn’t in the field of occupational therapy. Carolyn Parker is a speech therapist from the Mount Pleasant, Michigan area who grew up loving the outdoors, but actually came to nature-based therapy slowly and unintentionally by incorporating outdoor time and natural materials into her therapy.  

In today’s episode, Carolyn shares how she started her practice, what exactly nature-based speech therapy entails, especially for the children she works with who have complex communication needs, and the need for more research on the benefits of nature and speech therapy. We also discuss our vision for the future of nature-based therapy and what interdisciplinary collaboration between OT, PT, SLP, and mental health fields could do for the future of pediatric therapy. 

Carolyn’s passion for nature and making it accessible to her patients is wonderful to see and I can’t wait to witness how she grows her practice and what her contributions to her field will be going forward. 

We’ll discuss:

  • [01:42] Carolyn’s background in speech therapy and how she came to the idea to take speech therapy outdoors
  • [06:27] The dismissiveness and confusion Carolyn has faced from other colleagues about doing therapy outside
  • [11:13] How Carolyn runs her speech therapy practice and why having a small practice works for her stage of life
  • [20:10] What a nature-based speech therapy session entails, especially with children who have complex communication needs 
  • [29:14] Why having good clinical reasoning skills and being able to reflect and pivot is important in a therapy practice
  • [40:10] How nature-based speech therapy is a small, but growing field
  • [47:26] The value in collaborating and co-treating across the SLP, OT, PT, and mental health fields

Connect with Carolyn:

Stepping Stones Speech Therapy, PLLC

Follow Carolyn on Instagram

Follow Carolyn on Facebook

About Stepping Stones Speech Therapy:

Stepping Stones Speech Therapy, PLLC offers in-home speech and language therapy for pediatric clients within the Central Michigan area. Carolyn has over 10 years of experience working with children and specializes in the areas of speech sound disorders, early language acquisition, and augmentation/alternative communication (AAC). Stepping Stones prioritizes nature-based learning and time outside as a therapeutic tool for language learning. We also offer parent education, play groups, and educational consulting.

References of interest to nature-based speech-language pathology professionals:

Responding to nature: Natural environments improve parent-child communication

The importance of play in natural environments for children’s language development: an explorative study in early childhood education

The Impact of Time Spent in Natural Outdoor Spaces on Children’s Language, Communication and Social Skills: A Systematic Review Protocol (This is a published protocol for a systematic review that is likely being conducted at time of this podcast publication. May want to check back on the author's names in the future by using scholar.google.com to read the systematic review when it is eventually published.)

Nature-Based Therapy: Its Potential as a Complementary Approach to Treating Communication Disorders

💚 Work with me! Here's how I can support your nature-based practice or business:

 🌎 Join the Therapy in the Great Outdoors (TGO) Community to get free support as a nature-based pediatric therapist.

🥾 Download my free guide The Nature-Based Practice ROADMAP to help you start or grow your nature-based pediatric therapy practice.

🌈 Join the waitlist for the ConTiGO Approach Online Course if you want to be an expert in nature-based pediatric therapy (+ get mentoring from expert nature-based therapists & free marketing of your practice on our ConTiGO Certified® directory of practitioners).

 🐝 Join the waitlist for the TGO Business Hive if you want help starting and growing your nature-based BUSINESS.