- Beibhinn McDermott

Term : October, 2014
Department : Education
Program : Educational Therapy

Beibhinn McDermott’s career as an educator has taken her from Ireland to California, where she completed an M.A. in special education at San Francisco State University before enrolling in UCSC Extension’s Educational Therapy certificate program. A former classroom teacher and resource specialist, McDermott wanted to discover practical ways to assess and serve students with special needs. Since completing the Certificate in Educational Therapy in 2013, McDermott has worked as an educational therapist and executive functioning skills coach at a private neuropsychology practice.

What appealed to you about the Educational Therapy program?

I enrolled at UCSC Extension to elaborate on the studies I had done on SF State. I wanted to learn how to actually apply these approaches in the classroom and in one-on-one interactions with students. I enjoyed getting hands-on experience with educational assessments. For example, how would you assess or score someone who has a reading disorder? The level of core curriculum work offered was great.

What courses stood out to you?

“Management of Clinical Practice” was really helpful—and a lot of work. I still refer to some of the ideas introduced in class; things like how to come up with a brochure, create a website, and write a mission statement. “Adaptive Technologies” was useful because it broke up technologies into three distinct categories (mild, moderate and severe). This categorization made it easier to assess what tools to use when you are working with a specific population.

What skills do you think are necessary in order to be an effective educational therapist?

You need to be a good communicator. You need to be supportive of family decisions and dynamics. You’re treating the child as a whole person; you’re not just looking at the academics. It’s a multimodal approach because you’re looking at emotional functioning and behavior. Unlike tutors, who work mostly on core subjects, educational therapists work on skill-based learning. [Educational therapy is a great fit] if you really love working with students in one-on-one or small group settings, and you want to address the emotional and academic development of that child. 

McDermott is a Professional member of the Association of Educational Therapists and is currently studying for board certification.

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