Marion Marshall
Marion Marshall (Photo by Charlotte Cusack)
What is an educational therapist?

An educational therapist is a person who works professionally with the learning difference population. An educational therapist is trained to assess, address and remediate an individual's learning differences. After doing an assessment, an educational therapist will create an individualized treatment program from a variety of sources, including the client's social, emotional, psychoeducational and neuropsychological context, in order to correct underlying learning issues. Rather than be a classroom teacher, educational therapists focus exclusively on a child or adult who needs one-on-one attention in private practice, independent (private) schools and clinical or hospital settings.

What education is required?

Every educational therapy program I know is a post-bachelor's program. The Educational Therapy Certificate Program at Holy Names University also allows you to earn your Master's in Educational Therapy as well. Holy Names offers several avenues for individuals to take depending on their background - whether they were professional educators or not determines the number of courses required - and an accelerated route is also available for those who already hold a special education credential.

Did you always want to teach?

I didn't know it growing up, but I think I always wanted to be a teacher. Even as a child, I was playing the role with my peers.


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As a pre-teen, I volunteered regularly to work in the classroom with children, and in college I volunteered at summer camps for Easter Seals. Over the years, I've been an elementary teacher, a special education teacher and an educational therapist.

What's your educational background?

I've attended the University of California - Irvine and the University of California - Santa Barbara, and graduated from the University of California - Berkeley, where I double-majored in English and Psychology; it was there I also received my multiple subject teaching credential. Later, I earned two special education teaching credentials and a Master's Degree in Special Education. I've also received certification from the Association of Educational Therapists, the national professional association for educational therapists; every two years, we're required to undergo 40 hours of continued education to retain our membership. I am a Board Certified Educational Therapist (BCET) and a Fellow of the Association of Educational Therapists (FAET).

What are you duties as a coordinator?

My role is to know and understand the field's rules and regulations, the process of certification and to act as an advisor and mentor to students. I teach various courses throughout the duration of the educational therapy program so I can monitor the development and competency of these students. Plus, I share job postings since I regularly receive inquiries from employers and can provide referrals for students. I answer inquiries in hopes of attracting students to the program. Additionally, I do a great deal of public speaking locally and at the national level.

Why is educational therapy a good profession?

This field has grown dramatically, and the field is still growing. There is enough work in the Bay Area to go around, and we're a generous group. It's a great time to be an educational therapist because we're so much better at understanding what's underneath all this learning and we get to work with the human mind and the human spirit. We have a lot of flexibility in our schedules and can take on as many clients as we are comfortable managing, and we have the option of working solo and/or collaborating with others.

Why do you love your work?

This career allows me to do meaningful work. I find it so rewarding to watch children - my specialty is kindergarten through fifth graders - grow into their own understanding of their learning differences at an age appropriate level. I love teaching them how to advocate for themselves and giving them the tools needed to overcome their learning difficulties; I have the privilege of watching them evolve from a defeatist attitude to believing in themselves and their abilities.

For further information about Educational Therapy, visit www.aetonline.org.

For further information about the Holy Names University Program, e-mail marshall@hnu.edu.

If you would like to be considered for a career profile or want to nominate someone, e-mail Charlotte Cusack at ccusack@bayareanewsgroup.com.

To see more Career Profiles, visit www.mercurynews.com/career-profiles.