About the Institute

Mission and Vision

Mission Statement

The mission of the Developmental Therapy Institute is to promote the use of Developmental Therapy-Developmental Teaching to ensure that all children and adolescents, including those with severe emotional and behavioral disabilities, achieve social and emotional competence, responsible behavior and academic success.
The Institute provides professional development, coaching and resources to educators, therapists, childcare staff, parents and others who care about the social, emotional and academic growth of children and teens.

The Developmental Therapy Institute envisions that Developmental Therapy-Developmental Teaching will continue to be adopted by educational systems across the country. Our goal is to see all children develop the social, emotional and behavioral competencies they need in life.



Mission & History This nonprofit Institute was founded by Dr. Mary M. Wood, professor of special education at the University of Georgia, and was incorporated in 1978 by the State of Georgia for training, research, development, and outreach in Developmental Therapy-Teaching (DTT) for troubled children and youth. The mission statement reads:

Of special concern are students who are severely emotionally disturbed (SEBD), those with autism, and children at-risk, as well as students with other special needs who also have difficult-to-manage behavior.

The Institute teams with professionals and paraprofessionals in public and private schools (preK-12), State education agencies, technical colleges, higher education, and families to improve programs in prevention, early childhood, general and special education, and mental health.

The earliest foundations for the Developmental Therapy-Teaching model came from the work of Dr. Wood when she developed the first special education teacher preparation program for severely emotionally disturbed children and youth in Georgia. In 1969, she established and directed the Clarke County Public Mental Health Clinic for Children in Athens, Georgia. Funded for research, development, and training by the US Department of Education, the Georgia Department of Education, and the University of Georgia, the next four decades were spent in expansion and refinement for this new and comprehensive approach for helping educate children with severe mental health issues.

The first priority in the 1970’s was setting up an effective demonstration program that combined mental health and special education as a service delivery prototype. From this program the Rutland Pschoeducational Program and the Developmental Therapy method emerged and became the prototype for the Georgia Network of Educational and Therapeutic Supports (GNETS).

The success of the program soon outgrew the boundaries of the University’s mission, and the need for an Institute became evident. During the 1980’s, the Institute established standards for documenting the effectiveness of Developmental Therapy practices and began a multi-state expansion. The program and practices spread rapidly throughout the states and led to its international debut during the 1990’s. The focus during the 21st century is technical assistance and training worldwide to provide self-directed and distance learning for educators and parents to use Developmental Therapy-Teaching practice successfully with their students.

Early Intervention Programs