What Is a School Psychologist?
Who Are School Psychologists?
School psychologists have specialized training in both psychology and education. They use their training and skills to team with educators, parents, and other mental health professionals to ensure that every child learns in a safe, healthy and supportive environment. School psychologists understand school systems, effective teaching and successful learning. Today's children face more challenges than ever before. School psychologists can provide solutions for tomorrow's problems through thoughtful and positive actions today.
The training requirements to become a school psychologist are a minimum of 60 graduate semester hours including a year-long internship. This training emphasizes preparation in mental health, child development, school organization, learning, behavior and motivation. To work as a school psychologist, one must be certified and/or licensed by the state in which services are provided. School psychologists also may be nationally certified by the National School Psychology Certification Board (NSPCB).
What Do School Psychologists Do?
School psychologists tailor their services to the particular needs of each child and each situation. School psychologists use many different approaches, but most provide these core services:
Assessment use a wide variety of techniques at an individual, group, and systems level to evaluate:
develop programs on topics such as:
Research and Planning
Health Care Provision
Where Do School Psychologists Work?
The majority of school psychologists are employed in public and private school systems. However, school psychologists practice in a variety of settings including:
All children and adolescents face problems from time to time. They may:
School psychologists are there to help parents, educators, and the community understand and solve these problems.
A Slow Reader
Tommy's parents were concerned about his slow reading. They worried he might fall behind and lose confidence.
At school the teacher noticed that Tommy understood the work when it was presented orally but he relied on classmates to help him do written work. The school psychologist worked with Tommy's parents and teachers to develop a plan to improve his reading and writing. The plan worked and Tommy's reading and confidence improved.
By dealing with learning problems early on, school psychologists can help prevent further difficulties.
A Family Problem
The teacher noticed that Cara, an able student, stopped participating in class discussions and had trouble paying attention.
The school psychologist was asked to explore why Cara's behavior had changed so much. After learning that her parents were getting a divorce, the school psychologist provided counseling for Cara and offered recommendations to her parents during this difficult period. Cara's behavior and self-esteem improved, and she felt more confident about her continuing relationship with her parents.
School psychologists can be trusted to deal in confidence with sensitive personal and family matters.
A Potential Dropout
David was a high school sophomore who frequently skipped classes. He was disruptive in class and had been suspended several times for fighting.
After building a relationship with David, the school psychologist helped him learn simple relaxation and anger control techniques. David's mother and teacher worked together on a plan developed by the school psychologist to provide consistent limits and open communication. Changes in school and home environments can improve the quality oflife for children and family members.
The National Association of School Psychologists represents more than 21,500 school psychologists and related practitioners who serve the education and mental health needs of children, adolescents, young adults, and families.
For more information, contact:
The National Association of School Psychologists
School professionals and organizations (e.g., the PTA) can print the fact sheets individually for hard copy distribution. However, all fact sheets must be disseminated in the original form with the NASP logo and the information credited to NASP, whether in print or online format.