Kristin Park, SLP Magic Speech Bus
Laura Park Figueroa: Welcome to Therapy in the Great Outdoors, the podcast where we explore the business and practice of nature based pediatric therapy of all kinds. If you're an outdoor loving pediatric practitioner in the fields of occupational, physical, or speech therapy, social work, or mental health, this podcast will help you start and grow a successful nature based practice or program.
I am the ever honest, always 100 percent real. You'll hear it all on this podcast. Dr. Laura Park Figueroa. I'm a pediatric OT with over 20 years of experience, and I run a thriving nature based practice with profitable locations in two different states and multi six figures in revenue. I also host the free online community at therapyinthegreatoutdoors.
com to help you pursue your nature based therapy dreams too. Are you ready to take action on those dreams? Let's jump in.
Welcome everyone to therapy in the great outdoors today. I am super excited because Kristen Park is here . She is the owner of the magic speech bus. She is a speech therapist and she created this beautifully designed bus slash van to offer kind of hybrid services nature based and inside of the van for speech therapy.
And so she is Just a go getter and I am so excited that she's here she started her business about a year ago now so we're in October of 2023 but she really launched everything officially in May so she's only really been going at this a year or so or a few months since she officially launched.
What we are going to talk about now. Is how she decided to get started and what the first few months of business looked like to encourage all of you that you're not crazy.
If you're losing your mind in the first few months, we're going to talk about considerations for choosing locations. We're going to talk about challenges and successes with targeting different speech language skills outdoors. So for all you speech therapists out there, this will be very helpful. And also the age old topic of overcoming imposter syndrome and decision paralysis to just.
Take the leap. I love this. Welcome, Kristin. Thank you for being
Kristin Park: here. Thank you very much, Laura. Thank you for having me. I'm very excited to be here as well.
Laura Park Figueroa: And we share the same my maiden name was Park, so that's cool, too. It's a good name. It's a great name to have when you're a nature based therapist.
I love it. I actually, I don't know if people know this. I did a post about it years and years ago when I actually decided to start going by Laura Park Figueroa professionally. I actually, it's not actually my legal name. I gave up my maiden name when I got married and I took my husband's last name, Figueroa, and I kept my middle name, which is Beth, which I don't really love.
It's just sounds, it sounds country to me, Laura Beth, I grew up in the Midwest, so it is, it's totally a country name. I, as I entered nature based therapy, I missed My last name. I was like, Park is a great name. I wish I still had that. So I kept it is yours. You're made a name or are you partnered up and mine is my
Kristin Park: married name.
Yeah. Okay. So I took on the name and then took on the business and it just was a perfect blend. Yeah, I love it. I do. I do enjoy telling people that, I work in parks and then at yeah. The end of the conversation. Oh, what was your name again? Kristen Park. And yeah, you get to look.
Oh, okay. So it is, it does come up a lot,
Laura Park Figueroa: but yeah, it's good. It's an easy way to remember that you are the person who does the work outdoors. Okay. Let's dive in. Let's talk about like, how'd you even get this idea to do the magic speech bus? And y'all, I will link in the show notes the, her Instagram account.
It's the magic speech bus. You can go there to find it. And I will link in the account, the or I will link in the show notes, the her Instagram account and her website, but you got to see it to believe it. So I want to hear from you. How did you have this idea? And what were the early days in the process like?
Because I think people are going to learn from this, even if they're not going to use a bus for therapy. It's just adds a little element of interesting logistics if you are starting this way. Sure.
Kristin Park: Yeah. So I'll tell you a little bit about my background in speech pathology and how I ended up being a practice owner myself.
But. Prior to doing the nature based and bus based model, I was working in a traditional brick and mortar private practice for somebody else. I was, I started out there as a speech therapist, speech pathologist, and eventually, it was a small practice, but I was able to climb up to be the clinic director there.
So I was overseeing just the day to day operations in our one local office while also seeing. Patients myself and it was great. Everything was going swimmingly and I was enjoying my job. I was even in talks with the owner there to eventually purchase the business from her.
Yes, so that's what kind of initially sparked my interest in business ownership. I hadn't really considered it before that. I wasn't, it wasn't on the top of my mind, but she planted that seed. Nature pun. Love it planted that seed in my brain early on because I had only been there for about 2 years at that time before she had mentioned potentially selling the business to me.
So at that point, I said, I know nothing about owning a business. I need to read. I need to research. I need to get experience there. Everything was. Moving in that direction. And long story short, I had basically come really close to signing the paperwork and purchasing that business.
But at the end of the day, I didn't have enough finance financial support to meet her asking price. And something else was just pulling at my heart. I don't know, like this just feels like somebody else's. Business somebody else's practice. I wasn't 100%, no reservation ready to do it.
So we ended up talking and I just. backed down, continued to be the clinic director there for several months, still feeling like something out there was for me, but I wasn't sure what,
years prior to that on Instagram or Facebook, I had seen somebody else do a bus based speech therapy clinic. And at the time, I was like, wow, that's really cool.
I'm going to purchase this business eventually. So I'm not doing a bus based business. But when that offer fell through idea of a bus came back to my head, I thought about it. Oh, I remember. I wonder what that owner is doing now. I wonder how the bus is doing for her. So I reached out to her and she was kind enough to just call me right away and talk to me for about an hour telling me.
All the things that she did to get started, all the things she wish she had known when she, dove into this bus business and really gave me a lot of encouragement to do it myself. Where does that put us in the story? aT that point, I had just, then I just decided to do it and I put a down payment on a vehicle and while I was waiting for that, I started building all the other parts of the business.
anD it was only really after I had started, working on this bus business that the idea of nature based therapy came to my mind too. The original idea was I didn't want to take the bus to clients homes just because it involved a lot of driving, a lot of logistics, a lot of just me going from place to place.
, I wanted a bus. But I wanted it to be in one central location every day. So that's how I came up with the idea of community spaces parks and playgrounds and things like that. And doing that in those first couple of months, I started to realize yeah, being in the bus is fun, and it's great, and the kids love it.
But going outside is sometimes even more fun. Yeah. And then I stumbled into the whole, online world of nature based therapists when I really just loved that community. So that kind of takes us a little more into current times.
Laura Park Figueroa: Yeah. We're a pretty cool community. It's like really, it's really a sense that like you found your people, if you find other therapists who love working with kids and love the outdoors and a lot of them run businesses, so it's I don't know.
There's just a, there's just like a real community around it and a real sense of home. I think for a lot of us, when we find those people that, that kind of have the same values as we do in our businesses of getting kids outdoors. Okay. Can I ask you, we can cut this out if you don't want this to be public, but can I ask you like finances, like how much does a van cost?
You, I'm assuming you did the build out yourself because it's very specific to like, you wanted certain storage areas and certain, so what was the build out process like? And what are you looking at? What might people who are listening to this podcast be looking at if they're thinking about doing this, like finance wise?
Kristin Park: Sure. Yes. So I get that question a lot. So I'm happy to talk about it. Okay. It was not cheap.
Laura Park Figueroa: Yeah, it's not. We were looking at them for recreation, like to buy one for recreational use. And I was like, I don't know
Kristin Park: right. So when I was looking into it I made the decision early on that I also wanted a fully electric bus.
Wow. Okay. So that it did also increase the cost a little bit more. And for those who haven't seen the Instagram or, just listening to this audio, the bus that I have is, I like to describe it as about the size of those like big Amazon delivery vans. It's tall enough that you can stand inside.
It has the rear double doors, a sliding door on the side. And then it just has the two seats up front for, passenger and driver. But the whole back side, the back end of it is converted into a speech therapy office. It's got two bench seats face to face. Like you said, there's the cabinet that stores all of my speech materials.
And then there's a little bit of floor space in the back where I'm often sitting on the floor and, just getting into some play based therapy with my kiddos. So that was the vision that I had. And so knowing that I needed that, sufficient clinic space I. Settled on a Ford Transit, an E Transit and the MSRP when I purchased it was about 60, 000, so when I purchased it last year, I put down a 1, 000 deposit just to secure it, and then, monthly payments kicked in once I finally got the vehicle, which took months in and of itself because of chip shortages and supply chain issues and all that fun stuff.
So putting down that initial deposit was fine, and I was able to just save up a little bit more, a little bit more while I was waiting for the vehicle. And just having that waiting period helped me also build my website, start my social media. Even, I even got a few clients. Before I even had the bus so we would just meet at the park without the vehicle and I had, I called it my magic Honda Civic.
Laura Park Figueroa: love it. Yeah,
Kristin Park: just met them there in my regular old car and went outside. And then last winter, as the bus was being outfitted, I. Rented some spaces from local churches and libraries as well. Okay. Back to the cost of the bus, sometimes I get sidetracked. No,
Laura Park Figueroa: it's okay. It's okay. This is all relevant.
It's great. Yeah. Yeah. So
Kristin Park: then, once I had the bus, or the van, it was completely, it was just an empty shell. And so I had to find A custom builder to do the inside and I looked around at a couple places that do conversions for van life or like schoolies people call like I have a schoolie that I like live out of so I found a couple places and then settled on one down in Maryland who Took the bus and had it for about two months building out everything on the inside just the way I wanted it And once that was done, the outside was still like a plain white exterior, so I took it up north in Pennsylvania to a place that put on the rainbows and the clouds and sparkles and made it look very magical.
Laura Park Figueroa: It is so well done. I just, I have to interrupt to say it is your brand is so memorable because of how you designed the outside of the bus and your logo and all of that. It really is so It's so memorable for consumers and I think there's something very powerful about that.
If you are listening to this podcast and you're never going to get a van, there's something to thinking about making your brand really memorable and like it, it naturally makes consumers want to do business with you because when I see that van, I'm like, I want my kid to go to speech therapy there, it's just so beautifully designed. So I'm so glad you mentioned the getting the outside done, because the outside I think is it's free marketing. Everywhere you park that van, it's free marketing.
Kristin Park: Yes, that's what somebody said to me. They're like, you'll never have to do a billboard.
So all in all, I think to get the outside. The wrap job done was about another 5, 000 and then the inside was also that one was a big hit for me financially because that was about 19, 000 just upfront. So I. I've used a lot of my personal savings as an investment in that, in those first couple of months.
The vehicle, the car payments, I pay them monthly over time and that takes the place of paying rent for a brick and mortar office. But like I said, it was really just getting the vehicle outfitted into an office was the big investment. So I had saved up quite a bit already because I was planning on purchasing another business.
So instead, I just used that money for this business.
Laura Park Figueroa: So all in the van itself was 60 grand. Your build out was only 19, 000. I am so surprised by the low number there I honestly thought a build out might be close to a hundred grand. I'm not kidding. Based on what I'm seeing on some of these build outs for van life and stuff like that.
Kristin Park: Yeah, it can get a lot more complicated. I Did shop around and try to find one who was going to give me what I wanted for a... A decent cost right now. It doesn't have a bathroom on board.
Laura Park Figueroa: Okay. I was going to ask you that. Yeah,
Kristin Park: right. So we just take advantage of the park bathrooms. And that's 1 of the reasons why I picked some of the locations that I picked is because they have public access bathrooms.
Yeah. So they want to cut costs a little bit there as well. And then. Yeah, I think there were just lots of conversations back and forth with the builder about what was really necessary. What was going to make the vehicle functional, a little comfortable too. I didn't want to just be.
Scraping by just to save some money, but in the end, I'm very happy with the job that they did.
Laura Park Figueroa: Yeah, it looks, just the photos that I have seen, and I've seen you like on calls with like your van in the background, like it looks beautifully designed. Did you design it yourself or did they help you with the process of it?
Kristin Park: I gave them a very rough sketch. I think I used Microsoft paint. Okay. Okay. Cool. Just made I took a stock photo of an empty Ford transit and drew some I want some benches here. I want a cabinet here. And they brought it to life. I didn't give them any measurements. They measured everything themselves.
I didn't. And then the only other thing that I picked out was. Really just the flooring and we use the same flooring, vinyl flooring that we have in our kitchen at home because I like it and it's easy to clean.
Laura Park Figueroa: Yes, vinyl flooring is where it's at. Vinyl plank flooring is, we have it all through our basement and it is, it's beautiful too.
It's not your old school grandma kitchen vinyl flooring. It can look really pretty and yours in your van does. It looks great.
Kristin Park: Thank you. Yeah. I'm obviously, I'm not A contractor or builder or anything like that, just finding a person that I could give my ideas to and have them make it a reality was really helpful.
So I do, if anybody is interested in doing something like this, just shop around, you don't have to go to the first person you find or the closest place you find. Like I was willing to drive out of state and give him my bus for several months and say, Have at it. Yeah, you did a great job.
Laura Park Figueroa: Yeah, there's also I just want to mention too. There's also these portable toilets that contractors often use that are just they, I don't even know how to describe it. They compress down and into a small container, but then they have like layers where you can. Open them up and they become like an actual like little plastic toilet that you can sit on.
You just put bags inside of there. So we're planning on using those for some of our locations in the winter here in Madison. They close in the middle of winter, so we're going to use like a pop up tent and a little like portable toilet inside and Yeah. So really, if you're doing speech out of it, you're not going to live in the van, right?
That could even work in the winter if there's closed bathrooms or whatever,
Kristin Park: yes, some of them do close the facilities for winter. Yes. No winter maintenance is what the
Laura Park Figueroa: signs say. Yes, because you're in Pennsylvania. We didn't even say this, I don't think, at the podcast. But she's not in an area like Florida where it's warm all year and you can be outdoors all the time.
Kristin Park: YEah, that actually ties into something else I wanted to talk about is that I am in Pennsylvania, and we do experience all four season, not, we don't get super hot temperatures like down south or super cold up north, but we're we just get a nice blend of all four. Yeah. So that is something that I'm even currently dealing with because we're going into mid October with.
The families that I'm working with now is just prepping them like we will still meet at the park, even after the sunset. Even if it's snowing, you think of it as a traditional clinic, if you can drive. Safely to the clinic. We will still have our session.
Laura Park Figueroa: Yeah, that's a good way to put it.
Yeah, if you still have to have snow days and things like that, right? Yes. Yeah, I were having our first group where our first meeting for our younger kids group is this afternoon here in Madison, and it's very dark and cloudy and has been raining most of the day. And I messaged my employee Chloe. I was like.
What do you guess that someone's going to decide not to come today? Because I'm like, I hope they read the welcome packet and they know that like we embrace all kinds of weather in the practice because I do think it, it speaks to like how we as nature based therapists can help our families. Learn that we can be outdoors and all different kinds of weather, unless it's unsafe, like I get it if the temperature is 96 degrees and 85 percent humidity, probably unsafe to be outdoors all day long, not in the shade without enough water and there's things that we need to think about as nature based therapists for safety, but I love how you said if it's safe to drive, think of me like we're open, so .
Kristin Park: exactly. And my sessions to our design, I wanted them to be longer than what most places offer your most around this area. Usually therapy sessions are about 30 minutes for each therapy. So I just did I did 45 minute session. And that works out well because, even in the summer when it did reach 90 degrees and above.
The kids were outside for about 45 minutes, and we were in the bus in the shade. We had the fans going. We did a lot of water play, so there are ways to work around the heat, and there will be ways to work around the cold but you're right. It is, you do have to get that buy in from the families, mostly the parents.
Usually the kids are fine, but totally it's mostly the parents. Yeah, the kids are like, Ooh, there's, bugs and there's that in the park and you're like, Oh, can we go back in the bus? Yeah so it's just fun to and what I do too, is I just show a lot of positivity, a lot of like joy and wonder Ooh I wonder why there are more bugs today.
Or, why is it like, let's look at the clouds and do you think it's going to rain soon? How do you know? Things like that and just bring that. What a lot of nature based therapists do is they bring that sense of wonder into each. Yeah.
Laura Park Figueroa: Yeah. I love that Rachel Carson quote. It's it's something about a sense.
I think she's the first person who said a sense of wonder was like, it's where it comes from, but like helping children have that sense of wonder about the natural world. It's just so beautiful. Like I was thinking that actually, like, when we meet the kids today, we're going to have to be like, We get the whole woods to ourselves because
it's raining today.
Like just be like excited about it. And that, that dictates how they're going to feel and how parents are going to feel about it. Honestly if you come to it like, Oh, it's a bummer. We have rain the first day, whatever, like that's the vibe everybody's going to feel.
So it's like really keeping that it's hard. I think there's something innate in us as humans. Like we tend to like hole up when it's cold or rainy out. That's. I think normal and primal in our human like animalness, like in our nature, to protect and go inside and hunker down.
But I think we can really like, When we have that sense of joy and we encourage people to get out, we always feel better if we get out right in the outdoors.
Kristin Park: I think of it for myself, like I'm outside all week long because I'm, doing session after session, but for these kids, that 45 minute session might be the longest they spend.
In one go outside all week. Yeah. And so they love it. They're ready though. Let's go hit the trails. Let's go climb a tree and let's go run around. And I'm happy to do that with them too. Yeah. As long as we're working on our speech and language at the same time.
Laura Park Figueroa: Yes, exactly.
Exactly. So I want to, that kind of goes into like targeting speech and language skills outdoors, but I want to make sure that we covered the early days of business. What the first few months of your business looked like. So I think this is something we chatted a little bit before we hit record about a lot of people enter nature based practice and they just love working with kids outdoors and they think that's all it's going to be right.
But we were sharing with each other about how there's so much more that you have to be able to do logistics business wise on the back end. So talk to us about the first few months of your business.
Kristin Park: Yes. Okay. So I mentioned a little bit earlier for a few months there when I was waiting to get the actual vehicle.
I ended up, I was surprised myself to get my first client and they just Googled me or they Googled speech therapy near me and found my website, which was, I was still working on it at the time, but, , I was really pleasantly surprised that they were just on board with this outdoor Like speech therapy practice from the get go.
I didn't have to sell it to them really. And I said, Hey, I meet at parks and playgrounds and said, okay, when can we start? Awesome. Yeah. So I had to get ready right away. So for, from a therapist standpoint, it was just a matter of getting started with them, getting that evaluation done and then. Any initial income that I was getting from that 1 client, I just turned it right back into the business, buying evaluation materials, buying therapy materials getting an EHR system once I got 2 or 3 clients I just chose to set up with an EHR early on.
I know sometimes people. Just use like paper or Google drive or whatever they can, but yes, I made sure, and there's so many checklists that you can find online to get a traditional therapy business started. sO have your EHR, have your document storage system, have your phone system set up.
So got all of that set up myself. And then, like I said, built my website myself. I started doing a lot of marketing through Facebook mom groups is where I found the most success. Just being a local mom myself, I was already in those groups, but as the opportunity just came up naturally, somebody's asking about speech therapy for their child or, I was hosting some sort of community event and I was just posting about it in the group.
I started to notice, not just myself talking about the magic speech bus, but I would see other moms say, I heard about this magic speech bus in the area. So that was some early marketing. And then just making sure that I checked in with the parks that I had selected. I went to local, like their monthly parks and rec meetings.
Kind of nervous, but I went to one and I was, my first one, I'm sitting there and they were like, can we help you? Because, most people don't really go to those meetings. So they're like, why are you here? But I just introduced myself as a local speech therapist, trying to do nature based therapy.
I want to use your park. We're not going to, we don't need any pavilions or anything reserved. We just want to be there. And. I don't know if this is just local to Pennsylvania where I live, but all of the parks were so nice, so receptive, I didn't get much pushback or any questions. I think the one question I got was how many parking spaces do you need?
Laura Park Figueroa: How big is this bus?
Kristin Park: aS long as you aren't taking parking away from other park goers, then you're fine. I know that's a question that I get a lot. From people who find me online, need special permit and in my case, I don't, but I know sometimes you do have to go through that.
iF parks want to know what you're doing, especially for liability purposes. Yeah, which was something else I had to do with get liability insurance for for the bus itself. Like the. I have car insurance, but I also have general slip and fall protection on the bus as well.
Laura Park Figueroa: Good. Yeah, it sounds like you got all those ducks in a row, to use another nature pun,
Before you really had the bus up and out there, right? Yes. oUr experience was not, my experience has been that in smaller or, and this is just based on my experience literally, but in smaller or less urban areas the issue with the parks is generally very, they're very supportive in California.
My experience was. Utterly the exact opposite. They were like angry. We were there. They wanted us to pay exorbitant amounts. They had antiquated systems for reserving sites that were like a thousand dollars for when we do camp and we reserve a site in one of the parks in California, it's like over a thousand dollars a week to run a site just for the morning, just for nine to 12 in the morning.
So it, my experience. In a very large urban area. I think the reasoning is that the people that work for those parks are really trying to protect the parks and I respect that. And I really do try to take their perspective in the conversations that I have had with them over the years. But I really had to go way high up to some of the head people in the regional park system to say the way that you are doing this permitting system is broken, and there's not an option for people who just want to use the park once a week for a program. They ended up creating an outdoor program permit. I think it was, I'm not trying to toot, like I did this, like I didn't. I didn't negotiate the whole thing with them, but I think it was me being very vocal and a couple of other, businesses locally, like just wanting to use the park for a boot camp exercise class or something like that.
So I guess the takeaway here for people is.
really thoughtfully consider which parks you are using. And if you get a little bit of pushback from any of the parks, just know that they probably are concerned about overuse of the park. If that is the, and protecting the land and the park, that is something. And I also would argue that we need to protect children's right to have free play in the park as well, but that's a whole nother episode.
So everyone agrees.
Kristin Park: Yeah. Yeah. By doing this practice model, it just brings those local kids to the local parks, who otherwise might not go. I've had a lot of parents who call me and they say, I live in this town, and I say, oh great, you're closest to Earl Township Park. Have you ever been there? They say, no, I've never heard of it.
I'm like, ah, it's so close to you, and it's such a great park. And the kids go there and they love it. And so it's, it's A boost for the parks as well.
Laura Park Figueroa: Yeah. Yeah, that's good. That's a good point. Should we talk about some challenges and successes of targeting speech and language goals outdoors?
Kristin Park: Yes. Yes. Now, I know a couple months ago you had Carolyn, huh,
Laura Park Figueroa: Parker.
That's so crazy. Oh my gosh. I didn't even yes,
Kristin Park: Parker. It was another outdoorsy speech pathologist and she had mentioned in her interview too, that one of the challenges that a lot of speech therapists think of is how do I get enough repetition in the session?
And how do I get enough practice with that one specific speech sound that this. Client needs to work on. So that was something that was a challenge for me as well. I was trying to figure out, okay, how do I get them to do the sound over and over while also, following their rhythm, following, the flow of a nature based session.
So you have to just get a little creative sometimes and do things like, okay, we're going to walk this trail. We're going to do a little hike, every time we step, we're going to make this our little marching song and we're just going to say. Whatever word or whatever sound over and over. I actually just had a little girl yesterday who's working on her CH sound.
So we were doing words like cheese and we're marching and we're going cheese. And she just thought it was the funniest thing. So you know, it got her engaged, it got her moving. She was enjoying it and I didn't have to tell her, okay, say it again, let's keep practicing.
She was just motivated to do it herself. Yeah. Yeah. It might feel like a challenge at first. Like, how am I going to do this? But then on a whim, you just think of something like, okay let's march to our sound. And we're just going up the hill and people are walking by and there's this girl going cheese, but it was great.
So you can turn those challenges into opportunities and make it successful. On playground equipment, we often do things. I made up a game. Again, I just make things up on the fly and if the kids love it, then we'll just do it again the next session and the next session. But I had a game called 5 for slides.
We call it 5 for slides. So you say it down 5 times and then you can go down the slide. You get 5 words for your slide. So just ways to take what they're already doing going down the slide over and. Throw in a little bit of speech in there. Yeah. For my language kids, speech is, primarily working on sounds and articulation, language is working on everything else, the communication, the engagement, all those things for my kids who are working on more language goals.
We can be just more conversational in our therapy. We can do scavenger hunts. We can notice what's going on in the environment. We often talk about what's changed in the park from last week. Oh, there's more leaves on the ground now. Or, ooh, today it's really foggy, what was it like last week?
Do you remember? So we make connections and what do you think it's going to be like next time we meet? So we make predictions about the future. You can do the same things that you would do in traditional speech therapy. You can, I often still just incorporate stories. We would just read books outside on a picnic blanket.
When you. But then we can also just talk about what we see like with people watch. Sometimes we watch people walk their dogs or we problem solve. I want to go on that spinny toy, but there's a kid on it right now. What can I say to him? Yeah. How can we address that?
So we just work on a lot of different. Speech and language skills, just on the fly, we adapt to what's happening in the environment. And then when I do need to do something more structured, more specific either like a drill or like testing a specific concept, we go back on the bus and we can do it in there as well.
Laura Park Figueroa: Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah. It sounds like a lot of what you're saying is. Similar to things that have come up in other conversations I've been having recently with people just about your role as the speech therapist is what is the most like, that's what outdoor speech therapy is, there's a reason why we're licensed as a certain profession, right?
So you're keeping that licensure front of mind and using your speech therapy brain to facilitate the session while nature comes along and add some. Real life situations and therefore you to augment the therapy a bit, but it's really important I think a lot of people ask someone actually asked me to do an episode on nature based goal setting Which I do think there's some things to consider for OT at least But I guess that's a question for you.
Do your goals look we could talk about it Do your goals look different? in outdoor speech or magic speech bus speech than it does if you are working in a clinic setting.
Kristin Park: I feel
like my goals have not changed as far as the wording and what we're specifically targeting. When I do my initial evaluations, typically the first time I meet a family, we're on the bus.
I have standardized assessments that I use to really just get a full picture of what, um, their speech and language. Needs are and from there, I just, I set the same goals that I would set anywhere else. I do find that I can have some flexibility, I'm not following an academic requirement, I'm not in a school setting but, and I make them a little more functional.
Like I can really take into account what the family's concerns are. For example, one of the little kids that I work with he's. And in school, he gets speech therapy, and they're working on things like possessive pronouns, subjective pronouns, the more, the grammar components, and we're working on that too.
But I'm not, really drilling sentence structure as much as the pronoun I agree with what, so that was just a little side story, but my goals are pretty similar to how they've been in, in places that I've worked in the past. I just, like you said, have that nature element that just comes in as a third, almost like a third player.
Yeah. Myself, there's the client and then there's. Nature as well. So I'm focusing on the client's needs while also acknowledging that nature exists and it's there and it's playing a role in what we're already working on, if
Laura Park Figueroa: that makes sense. Yeah. Oh, it totally does. Yeah. And that's actually what I think.
Happens when you do nature based work as you suddenly notice nature all the time, like in ways that you maybe didn't notice it before, like it's, perfect story from this morning, I came home from the gym and our dogs in the backyard all muddy and I come in the house. I'm like, Ray, why did you let Ohtani out?
It's pouring rain outside, like I was like, now's the morning to keep him indoors after we had our walk because I don't want a muddy dog in my house all day. And he's Oh, it's raining. I'm like Oh, did you even look? It's like pouring rain. But it's you tend to notice those things as a nature based therapist and you notice nature and the way it influences kids and family life and how we interact outdoors.
Like you start to integrate it into your thinking about therapy in a way. I think that at least I didn't in my early Days of my career before I really identified as a nature based therapist. I just, I did a lot of work with kids outdoors when I was in my school based job. Like I always wanted to work outdoors.
I would take them. We were in California. So it was like 70 degrees and sunny all year long. And I would have kids outside all the time for sessions. Also, because schools never give you a place to work as an OT, but that could be another podcast. So I was outside a lot with kids, but was I purposefully integrating nature or the weather or noticing nature around us into the session?
Absolutely not. It was an outdoor session, but it was not what I would call a nature based session, a nature centric or a nature included in the process session, so I think there's a difference. I think that's a really good point to make. Okay, we need to wrap up. Tell me a bit about how you
overcame imposter syndrome and got over your decision paralysis to just take the leap into doing this?
Kristin Park: I don't know if I would say I got over imposter syndrome. I think it's always still there a little bit. But I hinted at that earlier on when I said I got my first client and I was surprised that I didn't have to sell them very hard on my business model.
Little instances like that kind of help over time to make me feel a little more confident in what I'm doing. Because originally I, I used to describe my business to people early on as this crazy idea or this weird thing that I'm doing. And finally, somebody called me out on that. They said, why are you so negative about your own practice?
And it was a real, wow. Yes. They're like why are you always so apologetic about it? Like you're awesome. Your business is awesome. You're doing really impactful, meaningful work with these kids and these families so why do you call it weird? Why do you call it crazy? Yeah. So that was something that really put me back and I had to just take a good hard look at myself and why I was doing what I'm doing.
So that was something that I wanted to mention here on the podcast today for anybody who's listening and just keep in mind your why. Why do you want to do this? What does it mean to you? Why is it important to be in nature? And, not to quote, there's that book that's girl, stop apologizing, but, but stop apologizing.
And just really. Lean into what you're doing here. As soon as I realized like nature based speech therapy is the direction I wanted to go in with the magic speech, but I was like all in I was going to read. I'm reading. I have a whole list of books that on my to read list all about nature based therapy.
I found you and I joined your program with the Business Hive because. I could join any business coaching program, but I wanted one that was specific to this. I stopped calling it weird. I stopped calling it crazy. And I started using more positive language. Like I have this wonderful, I have this unique, I have this magical practice.
And the other part of it too, like taking the leap and just getting started with it. It really just, um, was a matter of deciding okay, I'm going to put the deposit down on the bus. And once I put that deposit down, I didn't have to pay 60, 000 right away, but I just put that initial 1, 000 and I was like, that means something.
That is a commitment. so Starting with that small, quote unquote, small 1, 000 down yeah. Just made it feel more real made it feel like this is happening and just checking things off the list little by little week by week Okay, I've got my website. I've got my business name I've got my business license and it wasn't so much like I'm all in Like here's all my money and here's my whole life But it just builds up a little bit at a time and that helped me just get into it then by May of this year, when the vehicle was completely done and ready and, I had built up a small caseload that helped me feel, okay, I am ready.
Let's get out there in the world. Let's stop apologizing for doing something different. And let's just do
Laura Park Figueroa: it.
I love it. I love it so much. Yeah, I haven't read that book. I tend to get annoyed by Rachel Hollis, to be honest, everyone. Yes I will just say it straight.
Kristin Park: I wouldn't, yeah I'm not plugging her, but it was,
Laura Park Figueroa: I thought of the title.
The sentiment is true of how I, cause I did the exact same thing. And I think as you were talking, I was just like, oh my gosh, I'm not crazy. I'm not a crazy person listening to you talk, Kristen, because I feel like. I always feel this like embarrassment or like I don't want to promote my business or, still to this day, we're very successful for a nature based practice and I still to this day feel like I shy away from really being as enthusiastic as I might be about it.
If I'm just talking to someone that is a friend of mine or something to other people in the community, right? So it is it's such a good lesson. I honestly think that's a nugget for me to take away from this interview is to just remember that the way we frame and we talk about our business to people in the community that we just met, like neighbors that we meet or new people we meet in our community.
That's going to frame how they think about your business. And you're right. Like using positive language, being proud of it, being excited about it. Like we use this really innovative approach where we do all of our work outdoors with kids. A lot of times I won't say innovative or anything. I'm just like, Oh, I have a therapy practice where we do our work outdoors.
And it just, I'm trying to downplay it. Cause I don't want to toot my own horn or something. No, like we should be proud of the work we do. It's. It's amazing. And with your bus, you can't really hide your bus is Hey, we are here. This is the magic speech bus. There's glitter. There's rainbows or stars and beauty.
Okay. So let's tell people where they can find you. Thank you so much for doing this. I feel like we covered a lot that will help anyone, not just people who Want to get started. Oh, one thing before we go. I also want to give kudos to you like here publicly on the podcast, because I feel like you are the example of a business owner who is not afraid to invest in your business and like building your business acumen and your business brain and putting yourself in community with others, paying money to be in a program where you put yourself in community with others who are helping you take those next steps to really grow the business.
And I think so often people. Don't know what they don't know. And then their business again, we talked about this before we hit record a lot of I feel like I should hit record immediately when I get on a because a lot of times I say that on the podcast like, Oh, yeah, we chatted about that before we hit record.
But a lot of times I do see people start nature based practices and then physically, they burn out because They maybe don't have the support they need. So kudos to you. I want to say that because clearly you invested in the van itself, but you're also investing in resources that you need to support yourself as you grow the business.
So tell people now where they can find you.
Kristin Park: Yeah, I feel like we covered a lot, but yeah, that. Thank you for the little shout out there, of course, it doesn't business doesn't just stop when you get enough clients or, when you have your office set up the way you want it it's an ongoing ever growing thing.
But yeah, yes. As you mentioned at the beginning, you can find me on Instagram. That is my main social media presence. It's at magic speech bus. I have more information about the practice and I have a little blog going on my website, magic speech bus. com. And I also do have hidden away in the additional services on my website, but I do have I offer bus based business consultations for speech pathologists who are interested in.
Doing speech therapy out of a vehicle. Great. So that is on there. And I'm happy to chat with anybody who needs help getting started with that or just needs that inspiration to take
Laura Park Figueroa: the leap. Yes. I was specifically going to ask you because I'm big on people not asking for free business coaching from people.
And I was going to ask you, do you have a service set up where people can pay you for consult? Because I do think it's very valuable to, to have that. time with someone who's doing it as you're getting started. Again, right back to what
Laura Park Figueroa: We were just talking about, like investing in your business from the start.
So I'm so glad you offer that. That's because I think too, like I could see mental health counselors doing it, speech therapists doing it, OTs, PTs. I see it's even wider maybe even than speech therapy. So you've got a cool little side. Consultation business going there too, because what you've done is so inspiring.
So thanks so much for being here. I appreciate you making time. And yeah, I'll see you inside the hive next week on our call.
Kristin Park: Sounds good. Thank you very much, Laura.
Laura Park Figueroa: Thanks for joining me today for therapy in the great outdoors. If you want valuable advice, as you start or grow your nature based pediatric practice, get my free ebook, the nature based practice roadmap. It is a guide to help you focus and avoid. Mistakes as you start or grow your outdoor work with children in it.
I share the four stages of nature-based practice, what you need to focus on and common mistakes to avoid in each stage. Plus a checklist of specific action steps for you to take at each stage in the process. Get it at Therapy in the great outdoors.com/ roadmap. So until next time, get outside, connect, reflect, and enjoy therapy in the great outdoors.