Is she afraid to go to school or does he fall behind in studies? Then it is better to seek the help of a school psychologist, who can help your child succeed academically. And not just in school and with studies but also help the kid socially, behaviorally and emotionally. School psychologists assist children and their parents, teachers as well as members of community at large to understand and resolve concerns. They can make a world of difference to the anxious and depressed school going child.
Who is a school psychologist ?
A psychologist who collaborates with educators, parents and other professionals to create a safe, healthy and supportive learning environment is termed 'school psychologist'. This is an all round profile that helps the child strengthen connections between home, school as well as the community of students and teachers.
What do School Psychologists do ?
School psychologists play a pivotal role not only with students, but also their parents and families as well as the teachers and social fabric at large.
These are professionals who work with students to provide instruction, counsel, and also mentor school children in emotional, social and behavioral problems. After assessing the barriers, these psychologists determine the best possible way to improve learning. By reinforcing communication and social skills, the psychologists teach young children to resolve anger, regulate attitudes such as determination, optimism and enhance understanding and acceptance of diverse cultures and backgrounds.
School psychologists, not only work with students but also with their families. They teach parenting skills and enhance home-school collaboration. By coordinating support services, they make referrals and identify and address learning and behavioral problems that may interfere with the success of the wards.
They work with teachers to identify and resolve academic barriers to learning at school. They also design and implement a monitoring system to access the progress and interventions of the student. They strive with the teachers to create a positive environment in the classroom and motivate the student to engage in learning.
In addition to the above, school psychologists collect and analyze data pertaining to the improvement of school and student outcomes. They implement school-wide prevention programs and maintain positive environ conducive for learning. Safety of the students is their forte and they promote school policies and practices to eradicate violence, bullying and harassment at schools.
They provide leadership and direct services and coordination, design, implement and garner support for a comprehensive mental health programs in schools.
Above all, school psychologists coordinate with community providers in ensuring students transition to and from schools. Even in community learning environs such as residential treatment or juvenile justice programs, they play a lead role in the transition.
School psychologists at work
School children face several psychological trauma including being afraid of schools, lack of skill at studies, lack of self discipline, divorce, death or other family matters that could bother them, depression and anxiety and inability to manage time. There are some students who get into the drugs and alcohol web, contemplate suicide and worry about their sexuality. Above all, getting into a school or college or quitting a known school could be a challenge for them.
School psychologists also work in universities, school based health and mental health centers, community based clinics and hospitals, where day or residential treatments are given, juvenile justice centers and in private practice.
Duties of a school psychologist
School psychologists are trained both in education and psychology. They perform the following duties:
School psychologist educational requirements
A school psychologist is trained both in psychology and education. A minimum specialist level degree program is essential. A year-long supervisory internship is also mandatory. The training should include mental health, educational intervention, child development, learning and behavior, motivation, consultation, collaboration and knowledge in school law and systems. The course of school psychologist is a certified and licensed one by the state in their place of work. School psychologists should also be nationally certified by the National School Psychology Certification Board which sets the ethical and training standards.
In all states in the US, a three year post bachelor degree specialist degree (Ed.S) in school psychology is standard and a doctorate (five to seven years) gives an edge in the job hunt in obtaining supervisory and academic positions. The National Association of School Psychologists publishes a list of approved graduate programs.
It is necessary that the school psychologist has experience over a breadth of classroom choices and a wealth of field expertise. The MS/Eds programs in school psychology exposures them to such expertise. In some programs, elected representatives from student organizations sit through the School Psychology Advisory Committee. Indeed student representatives provide input to most programmatic policy decisions.
Doctoral students in school psychology complete an empirically based dissertation. Practical courses are taken throughout the program. At the end of the program, students complete their internship with specialist students' complete internships that are school-based, whereas doctoral students combine school and agency internships.
The school psychology program is becoming more and more competitive. Highly qualified individuals who exhibit a strong commitment to the program are chosen. Students are selected based on their compatibility and overall goals of the school psychology program. The typical student should be about 30 years of age, completed a Master's degree with high grades and committed to the goals, interest and expertise of the program.
In the US, due to changing demographics, there is a dire need for persons from diverse ethnic backgrounds to be selected. There are a number of campus organizations who aim to support and develop the community. Special financial support is also available for students from diverse backgrounds and to provide partial tuition payments and stipend.
Career opportunities for school psychologists
While graduates are afforded a wide variety of opportunities, specialist graduates can typically find suitable positions in schools. Opportunities also exist in educational cooperatives, specialized school settings and agencies. Doctoral graduates find suitable placements in colleges, universities and research and program evaluation positions. A broad array of funding and other agencies providing mental health, and developmental services for children and adolescents also use their services. Placement in appropriate professional positions has been close to 100% in recent years.
School psychologist personality traits
The outlook for any psychologist should be strong, and it is more so in case of a school psychologist. In the present times, school psychologists face the challenges of autism, violence, bullying in schools.
The working conditions are good, with a school schedule to work just nine months a year, reasonable job security and manageable stress. School psychologists can indulge in revolving tasks such as conducting workshops for parents, counseling teachers, screening kids for gifted-student programs.
On the other hand, it is a great challenge to persuade the already burdened teachers and time consuming federal, state and local mandates to make additional time for individual instructions to mental and physically disabled students.