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What is Educational Therapy?

Educational therapy offers children and adults with learning disabilities and other learning challenges a wide range of intensive, individualized interventions designed to remediate learning problems. Educational therapy demystifies learning problems and stimulates clients’ awareness of their strengths so they can use those strengths to best advantage to overcome or compensate for areas of weakness. 

An educational therapist is a professional who combines educational and therapeutic approaches for evaluation, remediation, case management, and communication/advocacy on behalf of children, adolescents and adults with learning disabilities or learning problems.​ Educational therapists create and implement a treatment plan that utilizes information from a variety of sources, including the client’s social, emotional, psychoeducational, and neuropsychological context.  

What is the difference between an

Educational Therapist and a tutor?

While a tutor generally focuses on teaching specific subject matter, an educational therapist’s focus is broader.  Educational therapists collaborate with all the significant people concerned with the student’s learning, and they focus not only on remediation but also on building self-awareness and underlying learning skills to help clients become more self-reliant, efficient learners.


The Association of Educational Therapists, the national professional organization for educational therapists, has set professional requirements for educational therapists, including academic criteria, standards of ethical practice, and continuing education requirements.  Learn more about AET’s standards. AET benefits the public by verifying the training background of educational therapists at the Associate, Professional, and Board Certified levels of membership.  Consumers can be confident that these professionals have met rigorous training requirements.

Differences in Three Areas

1. Services Provided

An educational therapist provides individualized intensive intervention, conducts formal and informal assessment of academic skills, and utilizes specific, and when appropriate, alternative teaching strategies.  An educational therapist also can provide case management for clients with a wide range of learning disabilities and learning issues by coordinating with the student’s team of teachers, parents, and allied professionals. A tutor typically provides assistance with homework and teaches children requiring private instruction in specific subject matter.  More often than not, the scope of practice of educational therapy is broader than that of tutoring.

2. Training

An educational therapist has extensive training in learning disabilities and other forms of learning difficulties, with additional specific training in the psychology of learning disorders, assessment, and intervention strategies that address the social and emotional aspects that impact learning.  Training also includes experience with intervention strategies specific to learning differences and a period of supervised practice.

A tutor’s background does not necessarily include training in learning disabilities, specific syndromes, assessments, appropriate interventions or case management.  Tutors are generally skilled at time management, task completion, study skills, and specific subject matter assistance. Teachers who also do tutoring do have some training in exceptionalities.  The difference often lies in the depth of training and understanding an educational therapist must have in order to address the diverse variety of client needs.


3. Goals and Strategies

An educational therapist collaboratively sets goals and develops an intervention plan that addresses not only academic difficulties, but also psycho-educational and socio-emotional aspects of life-long learning. A tutor frequently focuses on improving grades and commonly uses traditional teaching methods to reach academic goals.


Tutors often work with clients alongside educational therapists, addressing academic needs according to their expertise.  They are among the most common allied professionals with whom educational therapists collaborate.


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