What is an Educational Therapist? An Interview with Melody Valenzuela

Kids are underdogs

So thrilled to welcome Melody Valenzuela to the disABLED+Empowered family. Melody is a savvy educational therapist with the sharpness, wit, passion, and humor that is on fire 🔥. If you watch the interview, it won't take long to see why her clients and her professional colleagues adore her. 

We get into what an Educational Therapist (ET) is. Given the relative newness of this profession, spending some time here drove insight, highlighting the difference between an ET and a tutor (hint: ETs are like special ops on missions to uncover the "whys" vs. the "whats"). We also explore when seeking an ET is right and who's a good candidate for ET. 

Melody's view of kids as underdogs really helps to put the responsibility of teaching on the teacher vs. the learner. While this might sound like a massive, "duh," it's common for therapists, teachers, and tutors to become frustrated with kids who aren't learning "fast" enough. Melody's argument is that kids don't have the maturity or as much life experience as the adults they work with...so, who's the one who's responsible to make learning happen? 

"I've never worked with a dumb kid--It's impossible"

Melody stands strongly by her belief that brains are built to learn and that no one needs to put unnecessary labels (think, "I'm bad at math") on themselves. Given the right conditions, or in her case, a comfortable and welcoming office, paired with a trusting and safe working relationship with a teacher, Melody is confident that growth is inevitable. In her words, "relationship precedes learning." 

As Melody and I explore the role of psychological safety in learning and talk about the "S-word" (um, not that one...we spoke about shame), I also discover what separates a good ET from an exceptional one -- unabashed curiosity, creativity, positivity, and plain stubbornness. It is clear to me that Melody will find that kink in the hose, at any cost, so that the water will flow like it's supposed to. 

Given the way my and Melody's brain work, we could've gotten very lost in the weeds. This may be the most controlled we've ever been together. I hope that our passionate ramblings bring you some "a-ha" moments. Heck, I'd even be happy with a smile or even a giggle. Enjoy! 


Check out Rapport Education: https://www.rapporteducation.org/

Find an Educational Therapist by you: https://www.aetonline.org/

For a Full Transcript of this interview, click here


Let's do this!