Therapy Abroad

Therapy Abroad

About

Therapy Abroad offers short-term study abroad programs for undergraduate and graduate students in the field of communication sciences & disorders, speech-language pathology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, sports & exercise sciences, and other human and health sciences. Therapy Abroad creates an interactive educational environment for students to learn and enhance core competencies in their field, as well as to enjoy the richness and challenges of service-learning and traveling abroad. Working with partner organizations overseas including rehabilitation hospitals and clinics, schools, and home health providers, students are given the opportunity to work directly with clients, receive specialized training, and learn from experts in their field while also contributing to a unique cultural exchange experience. No other student travel program offers award-winning specialized hands-on experiences for students in these fields combined with group adventure travel!

Founded
2015

Reviews

Default avatar
Marisa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I miss this place so much!

This was truly an amazing experience! The best part was definitely the people we met! You will build life long relationships with people in your field, and that is priceless. It was truly the bridge connecting the context we learned in school and what we will be doing everyday in our profession, plus a lot of other exciting activities like surfing, boat rides, hiking, cave exploring and many other things. We obtained plenty of hands-on experience that reassured me that this is where I want to be at. Everyone was so supportive, I learned more there in two weeks than what i learned for a whole year in school. I definitely feel like now I have an advantage over people who didn't get to have this experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Bring lots of sunblock and bug spray! If you are going to get experience in your field, review your notes, write down lots of questions and take advantage of the time to pick their brains. It's way too much info to cover in such a short amount of time but they definitely emphasize on whatever you are interested in learning more about. Voice your opinion, they are pretty open in making adjustments. It is pricey but worth it if you make the best of it. Start your day with the right attitude, be open to try new things and you'll have a blast!
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Lindsey
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A trip of a lifetime!

I am so grateful to have had the experience to volunteer in Belize this past summer. I signed up for this trip not knowing a single person, which was a huge step outside my comfort zone. However, once I arrived at the airport and was greeted by the staff and other students with rice and beans, I was excited for the two weeks ahead.

We received incredible academic instruction and I feel my cultural competency is what developed the most over the course of the trip. The supervisors were really good at sharing their own experiences to teach us what to do (and even admitting their mistakes to teach us what not to do). I had never treated a client before, so it was so helpful to have their feedback at all times throughout the day, while also hearing the perspective of our other supervisors who were from San Ignacio and surrounding areas. Not going to lie, it is hard work and you will be tired at the end of the day, but it is well worth it and I wouldn't trade my experience for the world.

We had lovely buffet-style breakfasts made fresh by the hotel owner. Every day was a different combination of eggs, bread products, fruit, bacon, or other breakfast meat, etc. They made sure to accommodate all food allergies/sensitivities while still giving us a taste of numerous cultural dishes. The watermelon juice was incredible- definitely drink it to stay hydrated. And take your water bottle everywhere you go. It is very hot!

I definitely recommend branching out and trying to get to know almost everyone in the program because each university teaches in a slightly different way and there is a lot we can learn about the field (and about life) from others. Keep a journal and write not just about what you learned, but about how you felt and the progress you and your client made. Do not hold back- say yes to things that scare you. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

I can say that the only real complaint I have is that we did not always follow the itinerary and I feel some things were missing due to COVID. We were unable to complete home visits or conduct speech and hearing screenings which were two things I was really looking forward to. It would have been very educational to see what home life is Iike in Belize, but despite the strict laws surrounding covid in Belize, I feel the program directors did an incredible job making sure our experience was worthwhile.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The most nerve-wracking moments for me were ziplining and snorkeling with sharks, but I had great friends on the trip (who were also nervous) so we bonded over it and ended up laughing and having a great time.
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Drew
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Therapy Abroad Belize

If you are hesitant about committing to Therapy Abroad, don't be. The experience is unlike any other, you are able to gain hands on SLP experience and explore a beautiful new country. I learned so much about Belizean culture, the history and diversity of the country is astounding, and I also was able to apply this new understanding of cultural differences within our therapy sessions. The knowledge I gained while in Belize will definitely help me as I move forward in my career as a speech pathologist. The SLP supervisors are very involved and great mentors, I am so thankful for their help. The other students were also amazing, and made the trip even more fun.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Canoeing through the Barton Creek Cave presented a lot of surprises. We saw Mayan artifacts, swam, swung from vines, and even had a tree frog hitch a ride on one of our canoes.
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Sara
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best hands-on therapy experience!

If you are looking for some amazing experience with speech therapy, go on a trip with Therapy Abroad! I have never had the opportunity to actually be the one doing speech therapy until this program. I really felt like the students were entirely in charge of the speech services camp for kids. We planned all the activities for each day and were each given a child to specifically work with. We were responsible for that child and worked on a team to help reach each individual child's goals. I definitely was nervous at first since I had never done speech in action, but the SLPs there were amazing mentors and everything turned out great! I loved being with real clients and helping out in such a grateful community! I also really enjoyed the educational discussions on the culture and therapy strategies.

The adventures were also really fun! I felt like I did not get exactly what I thought I was getting at times because they had to make a few adjustments with COVID the last year, and they did not communicate those changes very well before the trip. However, they made sure to still have amazing experiences that I do not regret! My favorite activities were canoeing through caves and snorkeling at Caye Caulker (We swam with sharks and a manatee!). I really loved the trip and would do it again! (side note: I personally really enjoyed having an entire island to ourselves since there were not many tourists this year due to the pandemic)

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you are looking to be out vacationing in Belize 95% of the time, this isn't the trip for you. The focus really is the speech therapy services, but they definitely do an amazing job of also getting you out in the community and culture, and they do make time for a few really amazing outings. Be prepared to be very busy and take any possible power naps!
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Karissa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Therapy Abroad Experience

My trip to Belize with Therapy Abroad was one I will never forget! Going into this trip, I was unsure if being an SLP was for me. However, the mentor staff and the children I got to work with reaffirmed my passion for this field. I learned so much about how to be a great clinician, I am so thankful for all of the experiences this trip gave me: working one-on-one with a client, ziplining through the jungle, swimming with sharks, and snorkeling! While the beginning of the trip is a bit of a learning curve to prepare for camp, it was all worth it when I got to see improvement in my clients therapy goals! I hope to go back someday to continue work for Therapy Abroad. This trip is SO worth it!!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Snorkeling and swimming with sharks and stingrays!

Programs

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

The moment I received an email from my post-bac program advisor, I opened it and I was excited to read about a bilingual SLP program in the Dominican Republic! I did my research on Therapy Abroad and applied right away and waited anxiously to hear back. As soon as I was accepted, I started fundraising. I even told a friend about the program and she went too!

I loved everything they focused on from hands-on experience with children with speech disorders, to have the opportunity to work alongside certified SLPs. It was the perfect combination of being able to work in a Spanish speaking country and to work with children with speech disorders.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My university did not assist me with any help, I had to do everything on my own but Therapy Abroad was very helpful. Therapy Abroad’s staff was an amazing source of help and always answered my questions via email or phone. The program itself is very well organized and sends you email updates when forms are due.

The only thing I had to organize on my own was my connecting flight from LAX to Miami because the person in charge of booking this flight was not responding. Other than that, Therapy Abroad was a huge help!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

My advice would be to really take advantage and network out there. You meet so many people from SLP professors, members from your team, team leaders, psychologists, teachers, and DREAM staff members. Everyone out there is so friendly and willing to help. Exchange emails, numbers and build connections. Remember these people are also on the same page to become SLPs or some of them already went through the process. I recently sent my statement of purpose to one of the professors, that was on the team and he is helping me build my statement of purpose.

Another advice would be to take a journal and write what you did each day. Your journal might help you when writing your statement of purpose or it can just be something to look back and see all the amazing things you did out there.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The first few days before camp starts, we were preparing our activities as well as getting to know one another and exploring the town of Cabarete. Once camp started, we would meet after breakfast to do a quick overview, questions, or an ice breaker. We would then head over to the school and had about 30 minutes to set up before the children arrived.

Once the children arrived, we would play with them for about 10 minutes and then gathered outside to sing our welcoming name song. After we would all head over to the first activity, which was literature. Then we had basic concepts, behavior regulation, gross motor, snack time and lastly pretend play. These activities were selected by us and we were paired with another team member interested in the same activity. When the last activity was done, we all gathered outside again and sang a song or two and a good-bye song with their names.

After the children left, we gathered and had lunch at the school and debriefed. We would share our glows and grows of the day. When we were done eating we would then have a break for about 1-3 hours depending on the agenda. Some days we had observations that would only give us about an hour break. We would then come back to the school and observe a speech therapy session done by one of the speech pathologists on the team. The therapy sessions were very interesting and helpful to observe.

After we would have a break until it was time for dinner. We would all go to dinner together in a nice and relaxing place by the beach.

After dinner, we would meet at the hotel to go over our activities for the next day and to make sure everyone was on the same page. Most of the time we were free before 9 pm and had the rest of the night to relax, go for a night swim or prepare for the next day.

It might seem like a long day but you will enjoy every single moment of it!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

The day before my trip to the Dominican Republic, I was very excited but at the same time nervous (like many of us have felt). Many “what ifs” came to my mind. The main one was “what if I get sick?”. I went during the time when it was all over the news that Americans had been dying in the Dominican Republic, so of course, I freaked out. Most of those deaths had happened due to alcohol in certain resorts. As a member of the therapy abroad team, we were not allowed to drink alcohol which was good because then I did not have to worry about getting sick and it was one less thing on my mind to worry about.

It is okay to have these “what ifs” cross your mind; I mean, we are traveling to another country by ourselves. Another thing that helped me was taking a deep breath and just concentrating in the moment instead of worrying about the future. Once you arrive, you really forget about all the “what ifs” prior to arrival. Cabarete is a really beautiful and relaxing place to be.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Ellen McKamey

Job Title
Country Coordinator
Ellen McKamey

Ellen serves as program coordinator for Therapy Abroad’s Belize program. She has over 14 years of experience working in domestic and international special education, including applied behavior analysis, public awareness and child advocacy. Belize holds a special place in her heart as it was the site for her 27 month service in the United States Peace Corps.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memories are definitely on Caye Caulker with my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers while we were serving in Belize. Lots of laughs and great memories were shared on that sweet little island. Late nights, long talks, and dives in the deep blue sea were some of my favorites. It was the perfect recharging station where we could meet up and spend a couple days relaxing with friends.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Working for Therapy Abroad has allowed me to continue the work I was doing while in Belize as a Peace Corps volunteer, but on a much larger scale. I really enjoy working with the teams we bring down and the fact that we're now in country about 6 months throughout the year aids in our ability to ensure our program's sustainability.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I love hearing students' individual stories of how Therapy Abroad has broadened their scope. For a lot of our students, our programs are extremely eye opening experiences and sometimes their first opportunity to travel outside of the United States. It's most impressive to me their courage and determination to take on a hands-on learning opportunity in an unfamiliar environment.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Our company just started a program in the Dominican Republic and I would love to check it out. It would be my first time visiting the DR and I would be interested to see the similarities and differences between there and Belize in terms of services offered for children with special needs and everyday life.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

I think the importance that both the founders of Therapy Abroad and myself put on the sustainability of our programs makes our company unique. As returned Peace Corps volunteers, sustainability is one of our highest values. We seek to work in countries and with partnerships that WANT to work with us. We put a high priority on professional trainings to ensure carryover.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe the biggest factor in the success of Therapy Abroad in Belize are the relationships and connections we're building with not only professionals in the field there, but also with the families and communities we're working with. It's these relationships that create the foundation for change that we hope to see within country's services for their special needs population.