OPT: The Organization for Psychoeducational Tutoring

The Organization for Psychoeducational Tutoring, Inc., or OPT, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to teach psychological skills. Psychological skills are the abilities that make life better – that help people to be happy and help others to be happy. They are the skills that make up mental health. They include academic skills usually thought of as the job of schools, such as reading, writing, math, and understanding important ideas.

The Telephone Tutoring Program

OPT’s Psychoeducational tutors work with children (and sometimes adolescents) through half-hour sessions, held by phone, conducted five or six days a week. Tutor and student use manuals created for this project. The tutoring continues usually for a year or more. We continually try to keep track of how much is accomplished during tutoring, in ongoing program evaluation research. At this time, because of charitable donations, our services are without cost to participants.


Part of the goal of OPT is to help children who need to learn to read, or to read better. The child who can't read well is much more likely to dislike school and to develop emotional and behavior problems. Thus reading is a skill that increases psychological well-being. In a study published in 2005, we reported that a group of children who had progressed at half a grade level per year before tutoring progressed at an average of two grade levels per year during telephone tutoring.

Psychological Skills

The job of teaching psychological skills is too big for society to restrict this task to certified psychotherapists and certified teachers. One of the big ideas behind OPT is that nonprofessional people, for example college student tutors, or parents, can help children to learn the sorts of skills that mental health professionals have studied and written about. What are these skills? OPT’s curricular materials have titles that include anger control, conflict-resolution, self-discipline, friendship-building, anxiety-reduction, and others. OPT orients itself around 16 groups of psychological skills: productivity, joyousness, kindness, honesty, fortitude, good decisions (both individual and joint), nonviolence, respectful talk, friendship-building, self-discipline, loyalty, conservation, self-care, compliance, positive fantasy rehearsal, and courage. The tutors do not develop the curriculum, but they take part in it with the children: taking turns reading aloud, taking turns doing psychological skills exercises.

Why Psychological Skills Training?

Most of the problems of humanity in general: war, crime, environmental destruction, substance abuse, bullying, poverty – could be greatly alleviated, if not eradicated, if enough people were proficient enough in the skills that oppose these problems. At an individual level, people who are very proficient at the psychological skills tend to enjoy life and help others to enjoy life. One can argue that helping people gain psychological skills is job 1 for humanity.

The Relation of OPT to Schools and Mental Health Services

OPT is in cooperation, not competition, with other institutions that seek to impart psychological skills. Some children receive OPT’s services as an adjunct to mental health care; others receive it to enrich their lives without their needing mental health professional services. Almost all who receive OPT’s reading tutoring get it in addition to the teaching they get at school. We are open to referrals from school personnel and mental health personnel. Parents can also refer their families directly to us.

A Little More About Us:

Here is our board of directors:

OPT Board of Directors

And here's a little about our history:

History of OPT

And here are some of the "big ideas" of how OPT works:

Big Ideas Behind OPT

If you are a parent looking for help for your child:

If you are interested in this program, you can send an email to Dr. Joseph Strayhorn, director, at jstray@gmail.com.

To learn more about it right now, you can read:

Frequently asked questions, for parents

Guidelines for Parents of Students in OPT

Disclaimers -- What OPT Does NOT Claim To Do

Here are the consent form for the research activity of OPT, and the HIPAA information.

Consent form for research

HIPAA Information

Here are some questionnaires that parents are asked to use, to give us information, once they've decided to engage with OPT:

Parent Questionnaire 1

Parent Questionnaire 2

If you are interested in inspecting or using our curricular materials:

They are available to all.

OPT Manuals

Psychological Skills Songs

Letter Sound Songs

Skip Counting Songs

If you're interested in working for OPT as a psychoeducational tutor:

You can send an email to Joseph Strayhorn, M.D., director, at jstray@gmail.com.

To learn about what psychoeducational tutoring entails, please take a look at:

Confirmation of Interest Document

Pros and Cons of Becoming an OPT Tutor

Guidelines for Psychoeducational Tutors

If you'd like to donate to OPT:

OPT is a 501 (c) (3) organization. It is very "lean": almost all of the expenses are to pay our tutors. Donations to OPT have the potential to alter the trajectory of its students' lives in a positive way. The OPT curriculum and methods were designed in hopes of contributing to a kinder, less violent, and happier world.

You can contact Joseph Strayhorn, M.D., director of OPT, at jstray@gmail.com.

OPT's Tax Filings