What's the Difference Between Educational Psychology and Educational Therapy?

Posted by Erica Warren on

There seems to be a logical assumption that if you get a degree in educational psychology that this would enable you to be an educational therapist. As with many assumptions, this is partially true, but not fully accurate. Let me educate you more about these two degrees.
What is Educational Therapy

What is Educational Therapy?

Educational therapy is a relatively new profession, and this is why there are fewer, formal educational programs actively teaching this method. In fact, the term learning specialist has been around for a longer period of time and the two approaches are virtually the same thing. There is significant professional preparation required to be an educational therapist or learning specialist.


Educational therapists often combine degrees in both education and psychology and may have professional backgrounds that unite a variety of undergraduate, master and or doctoral degrees in areas such as:

  • Educational Psychology
  • School Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Special Education
  • Learning Technologies
  • Literacy and Language
  • Reading Education
  • Reading and Literacy
  • Learning Specialist

Training methods are also available through online courses of study. The Association of Educational Therapists offers a number of choices, but pursuing higher education training, is the best. They do claim to offer a "board-certified educational therapist" option and this may offer a faster but less comprehensive route. The bottom line is professionals can unite a variety of different educational and psychological backgrounds and training to achieve expertise in educational therapy.

Affordable Educational Therapy Courses

How is Traditional Tutoring different than Educational Therapy?

Tutoring tends to be offered by content-based teachers that are trained in the field of study. Tutors assist students with academics and homework and help them to learn or relearn academic content that is difficult or not taught. They tend to be experts in particular subjects such as math, writing, social studies, and the sciences. Therefore, tutoring requires a limited skill set when compared to educational therapy. It should be noted, however, that some tutors do have an understanding of some educational therapy principles and may be able to help kids with learning challenges to address other school-related issues.

educational workshops for parentsWhat Does an Educational Therapist Do?

An educational therapist combines educational and therapeutic approaches for evaluation, remediation, case management, and advocacy on behalf of children, adolescents, and adults with learning disabilities or learning problems. Educational therapy is a form of remedial treatment used to help individuals with learning challenges, learning differences, and academic self-confidence issues. These professionals have extensive training and are versed in helping students with learning disabilities, gifted students, as well as those with social and emotional challenges surrounding their learning difficulties. In addition, they may conduct multi-sensory instruction, cognitive remediation (strengthen weak areas of cognition), student advocacy, as well as remedial support in other academic areas such as reading, writing, math, and other subject matter. They usually teach study skills as well as executive functioning skills and memory strategies. Some have expertise working with young children while others specialize in young adults or clients of all ages. Most of the time, educational therapists work in their own private practice with many students on a one-to-one basis where they create a unique plan for each student.

In review, educational therapists can offer a variety of services including:

  1. Support in academic areas
  2. Cognitive remedial exercises/therapy
  3. Executive functioning coaching
  4. Metacognitive strategies
  5. Memory strategies
  6. Study skills instruction
  7. Remedial reading using a variety of approaches such as Orton Gillingham, Whole Word, or Structured Word Inquiry
  8. Remedial writing
  9. Remedial math
  10. Mindfulness and emotional regulation
  11. Training in assistive technology tools

How Do I Find a Qualified Educational Therapist for My Child?

You can simply place your location and the words educational therapy, educational therapist, educational therapists, or learning specialist into a search engine. I work in Westchester, NY but I also work with students online. Come learn more about my practice, Learning to Learn. Click here to learn more. As another option, you can go to sites like:

  1. the International Dyslexia Association. They offer a provider directory by location. Click here to learn more.
  2. Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) also offers a provider directory. Click here to learn more.
  3. The Literacy Nest also offers some options. Click here to learn more.
  4. The Association of Educational Therapists also had a providers directory: To learn more Click here

Executive Functioning Coaching

Final Thought on Educational Therapists:

I am an educational therapist and I feel that my Master’s degree in educational psychology was an integral piece of my training. However, I also have another six years of doctoral study in a combination of school psychology, special education, and adult education. These, too, were significantly relevant, but two other extremely important aspects of my training were my BA in fine arts (what I like to refer to as my secret weapon) and a three-year assistantship where I conducted psycho-educational testing and wrote comprehensive neuropsychological assessments. Clearly, there are many pathways that can lead to the knowledge needed to be an educational therapist.

If you would like to learn the distinction between an educational therapist, learning specialist, and a tutor: http://learningspecialistmaterials.blogspot.com/2016/01/tutor-learning-specialist-and.html

Learn Tricks and Strategies for a Successful Educational Therapy Business?

If you would like to learn more about practices for educational therapists and how to empower students with learning differences and learning challenges, parents, teachers and other professionals can use my resources at www.learningspecialistcourses.com and www.goodsensorylearning.com. I offer a number of courses. I also offer many educational therapy products for multisensory and remedial instruction as well as cognitive remedial therapy. You can learn about all these resources at Good Sensory Learning. If you need help finding specific courses or materials, you can always reach out to me at Erica@GoodSensoryLearning.com. I would be happy to guide you in the right direction.

What is Educational Psychology?

Educational psychology is an established branch of psychology that can be traced back to the early 1900s, and many formal schools of higher education offer advanced degrees in this field of study. Educational psychologists study human learning and motivation, and they investigate the:

  • cognition of the brain
  • influence of affect, goals, and interest on learning
  • role of assessment in learning
  • psychology of teaching
  • development and the impact on learning
  • effectiveness of instructional intervention
  • relationship between cognition and technology
  • social psychology of learning organizations
  • methods for conducting educational research

These programs offer instruction on how people use emotional, social, and cognitive processes to learn and retain knowledge. They focus on theory and research more so than direct instruction, and areas of focus might include teaching methods, testing techniques, classroom environments, as well as the learning, social, and behavioral problems that interfere with learning.

What Does an Educational Psychologist Do?

Many educational psychologists conduct educational research and studies on current and educational practices, while others may try to develop new and improved teaching techniques, testing methods, learning methods, and educational programs. Some example resources an educational psychologist might author include worksheets, lesson plans, tests, textbooks, and instructional videos.

Many educational psychologists have specialties. They may concentrate on a specific age group ranging from elementary to adult learners. It is also common for an educational psychologist to focus on a particular type of learning problem or disability, such as a learning disability like:

  • Dyslexia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Auditory processing disorder
  • Language processing disorder
  • Nonverbal learning disabilities
  • Visual perceptual/visual motor deficit
  • ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)

Final Thought

Clearly, educational therapists and educational psychologists share many interests. However, the main distinction is that educational therapists tend to work one-on-one with students to improve cognition and academic achievement while educational psychologists tend to conduct research and create the techniques and methods. Personally, I find them to work together harmoniously. I often find my training in educational psychology to be a valuable asset to my practice and use the principles that I learned to create unique and multi-sensory materials for my students and other practitioners.

Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.

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