History of Educational Therapy

The Association of Educational Therapists (AET) is a national professional organization first formed in California in 1979 to meet the needs of a subgroup of special educators whose work melded the clinical with the educational models of intervention. This clinical teaching model, brought to America from Europe in the 1940s by pioneers like Marianne Frostig, Katrina DeHirsch and others, was inspired by the work, called heilpedagogie, of August Aichorn in Vienna. Many of these practitioners, in preparing for this unique pedagogy, had independently trained themselves from the course offerings of two or more disciplines, from fields such as special education, psychology, speech/language, and child development.

Because of the lack of specific university training programs offering this sort of multidisciplinary curriculum, as well as uncertainty in America about the definition and domain of the practice of educational therapy, AET was established as a professional organization to formally define educational therapy and to establish principles of practice and standards for academic and experiential training needed for such practice.

AET defines an educational therapist as a professional who combines both educational and therapeutic approaches for evaluation, remediation, case management, and communication/advocacy on behalf of individuals of all ages with learning disabilities or learning problems.

Standards of practice and ethics were codified by AET and have become the foundation for professional membership. Supervision and continuing education provided by the association offer both neophytes and experienced practitioners alike the opportunity to supplement and expand training in those areas most needed.

AET has worked in partnership with several major universities and colleges to develop training programs specific to the needs of educational therapists. These model programs have been refined so that they can be implemented throughout the country as well as provide curriculum for delivery through Distance Learning over the Internet. The goal has been to assure that educational therapists have skills in the following psychoeducational therapeutic processes:

1) formal and informal educational assessment;
2) synthesis of information from other specialists;
3) understanding the client's psychosocial context of family/school/-community/ culture;
4) development and implementation of appropriate remedial programs for school-related learning and behavior problems;
5) strategy training for addressing social and emotional as well as academic aspects of learning problems;
6) formation of supportive relationships with the individual and with those involved in his educational development;
7) facilitation of communication between the individual, the family, the school, and involved professionals.

Excerpted from Ungerleider, D. & Maslow, P. (2001). "Association of Educational Therapists: Position Paper on the SAT." Journal of Learning Disabilities, 34, 311-314.