Lil’ Chit-Chat Speech & Language Therapy, a pediatric speech therapy clinic servicing the Temecula, California area, was started by Sabrina Conway, a licensed Speech Language Pathologist. Lil’ Chit-Chat is what most would call a “boutique” speech therapy business. To Sabrina, this means that she operates a business that caters to the individual needs of her clients and builds a therapy plan around those specific needs. Sabrina also says that the boutique experience includes the way in which she interacts with the families she works with.
“We want our clients and their families to feel like they are truly known, and not just another customer,” she says. “We work closely with the families of our clients because we recognize that family ‘buy-in’ is such an important component to a child’s success when it comes to speech therapy.”
Before opening Lil’ Chit-Chat, Sabrina worked with children in a variety of settings for speech therapy, including clinics, hospitals, and schools, but she always dabbled in private speech therapy on the side. It was this experience, which included working in the homes of her clients, that convinced her that she wanted to open her own speech therapy business, and focus on in-home speech therapy.
Sabrina says, “While I see the benefits of school-based therapy, private, in-home speech therapy is offered individually as opposed to a group. Therefore, the child receives continuous intervention from the therapist throughout a session. This is key for optimal improvement and success. As a therapist, I love that I have the flexibility to cater to my clients’ specific needs and create individualized therapy sessions. So often, public school-based therapy is in a group setting, and for only 30 minutes per week, and that just doesn’t work well for some kids. I’ve seen kids who have been in speech articulation therapy in the public setting for years that probably could have graduated in a few short months if they had been in private therapy with the right speech therapist.”
When Sabrina decided to take the plunge and start her own practice, she found that there was a lot to learn about running this type of business. One challenge Sabrina faced was educating parents about the importance of early intervention when it comes to speech therapy. So many parents don’t even realize that their children may be in need of speech therapy, according to Sabrina, and they are also hesitant to spend the money on private therapy. “It can be hard convincing parents that this is a good way to go,” says Sabrina, “but once they make the choice to go with private speech therapy, they are always glad they did.” Sabrina also informs parents that speech services are covered by most insurance companies. All of her clients are provided with a “super bill” that they can submit on their own to their insurance companies.
What advice does Sabrina have for others who are thinking about opening up a private practice like hers?
She advises that you get to know those in the community that you would like to serve. Network with other professionals who can refer your services. Take the opportunity to offer referrals back to those professionals. Establish contracts with local organizations that are in need of your services, like hospitals or preschools.
Sabrina also encourages people to ask for advice from others in the field. Sabrina says there are groups on Facebook and LinkedIn made up of other private speech therapists where you can ask questions and get advice if you don’t know anyone personally who can offer guidance.
Finally, Sabrina says, “Do it! It can be challenging at times, but you are really able to make a difference in the lives of your clients and their families.”
To find out more about Lil’ Chit-Chat Speech & Language Therapy, visit their website at http://lilchitchat.com/.