Collaboration and Teaming

Team-based services provide the opportunity to obtain input from professionals with different perspectives. Family members are integral members of any team. Collaboration involves problem solving and mutual goal setting from multiple perspectives that are relevant to an individuals needs (Idol, Nevin, & Paolucci-Whitcomb, 1994).

The particular type of team used may determine the extent of collaboration that occurs among team members (Paul, Blosser, & Jakubowitz, 2006). The following are typical characteristics of different types of teams.

Multidisciplinary teams

  • Work separately and independently
  • Come together to report assessment results and intervention outcomes from the perspective of their own discipline
  • Do not engage in joint planning or intervention

Interdisciplinary teams

  • Discuss and share perspectives to set goals and identify intervention priorities
  • Collaborate and communicate for assessment and intervention
  • Aim to provide less fragmentation of services

Transdisciplinary teams

  • Coordinate and collaborate for assessment and intervention frequently and consistently
  • Blend professional boundaries
  • Offer flexible professional roles; may have role release, where some of the responsibilities are shared across disciplines
  • Share information for planning and intervention
  • Determine intervention goals jointly
  • Share responsibility for documenting student outcomes

A more contemporary approach to education and service—which is known as interprofessional education (IPE) and interprofessional collaborative practice (IPP)—exemplifies a collaborative approach. Consistent with the World Health Organization definitions, ASHA defines IPE as an activity that occurs when two or more professions learn about, from, and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve outcomes for individuals and families whom we serve. ASHA defines IPP as service that occurs when multiple service providers from different professional backgrounds provide comprehensive healthcare or educational services by working with individuals and their families, caregivers, and communities to deliver the highest quality of care across settings. For more information, see ASHAs Interprofessional Education/Interprofessional Practice (IPE/IPP).

Any of these collaborative team models could be used to provide service, depending on the needs of the individual.


Idol, L., Nevin, A., & Paolucci-Whitcomb, P. (1994). Collaborative consultation. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

Paul, D. R., Blosser, J., & Jakubowitz, M. D. (2006). Principles and challenges for forming successful literacy partnerships. Topics in Language Disorders, 26(1), 5–23.

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