Tips For First Time Clinic Experiences

Being a first time clinician can be very intimidating! If you are in your first semester of graduate school you are likely given 1-2 clients during the first week of classes. At this point you’ve likely had little training and most of your knowledge is from textbooks, unless you’ve worked as an SLP- Assistant. Even then, your graduate school clinic is an entirely different experience.

Just know…

There will be a lot of rules. Once again I mention HIPAA.  Do not talk about your clients to other students, do not mention them by name, and most of all do not go around making comments such as “I do not enjoy working with my client”(Yes it has been said and done). You will quickly find yourself facing consequences. If a fellow peer is receiving services in the on- campus clinic do not ask them about their therapy. HIPPA still applies here.  Also, do not take any client paperwork home with you. 

Your clinic will likely have their own set of rules and expectations. Make a copy of these and keep them in your clinic folder. You don’t want to get a letter of reprimand for something you could have avoided.

But OK all rules aside! 

Do research about your client. Know their file before you meet them. Look up any terminology you may need to know that is in their file and take note of their goals and previous progress. Prepare and over prepare. Your client may not like the activities/ games that you have chosen, so always have back-ups. Decide how you want to take data… by pre-test/ post-test or by session. 

Your first session will be about getting to know your client. Have fun! Get to know their likes and dislikes. Learn what type of behavior modification techniques you may need to implement in your sessions. Not all clients require token reinforcement but some really really do. If you have a client that will sit and work for the entire hour, take advantage of that and reward them with a sticker or prize at the end of the session. If your client requires continuous reinforcement, get creative and bring many options for tokens. 

Speaking of prizes don’t feel the need to go overboard with personal purchases. Your clinics library will offer plenty and this is a stress that you do not need. 

Know if your client has allergies! 

Maintain a professional personality and demeanor. This includes dressing professionally (clothes, hair, nails, etc.).

Don’t panic! Your supervisor will be there to answer any questions you have and guide you along the way. 

Remember you are learning. You are not meant to have all of the answers and are not expected to be worlds best therapist just yet. You may not know what to do to target pronouns. You may have no idea how to facilitate the /r/ sound. You may not know how to manage behavior. You may have an entire session or two with a crying toddler. That is ok. Do your best. Ask questions and use all of your resources.

Some of my favorite resources for activities are Pinterest and Teachers pay teachers. Also, Mommy Speech Therapy has free articulation downloads for every sound and she also has some helpful charts on development. 

If you have any specific questions related to clinic don’t hesitate to leave a comment! 🙂



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