The Difference Between Educational Therapy and Tutoring

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.

Educational Therapy and Tutoring
There is overlap between educational therapy and other professions, but the most common confusion arises when differentiating the work of an educational therapist from the work of a tutor.

Educational therapy differs from tutoring and other remedial interventions in the way that it considers the impact of school, family, and community on the client’s learning.  It fosters communication with all significant members involved with the client and attends to psycho-educational and socio-emotional goals as well as academic.

Tutors come from a variety of academic fields, often with a wide range of training and experience.  Skills vary from one individual to another, making generalizations difficult to establish. 

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.