School Psychology is an excellent field for those who want to work with youth and feel a drive to make a positive difference in lives. It is a great field for those who want to work in education, but do not necessarily want to teach a classroom of students. School Psychologists are qualified to provide a broad range of skills to address student needs in a variety of areas. The School Psychologist will work with students, parents, and teachers to promote academic, emotional, and behavioral success. Their skills enable them to offer comprehensive psychological evaluations, as well as consult with school personnel in relation to students’ learning, behavior, and environments. They provide individual, group, and organizational interventions, including counseling. School psychologists may work with children individually and in groups. Additionally, they might provide trainings to teachers regarding various learning and mental health topics (e.g., behavior management, referral process, ADHD, etc.). Although school psychologists are not generally trained teachers, they are trained to look at the effectiveness of academic programs, classroom agendas, and treatment interventions, which assists in the development of specific interventions. The specific roles a School Psychologist will act in are usually defined by the system in which they work.
School Psychologists are experts in Special Education and have a large role in the eligibility process for special education. School Psychologists assess students suspected of having a disability as part of the process in determining eligibility for special education services. A School Psychologist administers a cognitive battery to obtain a level of intellectual functioning and academic potential. This battery also provides a better understanding of the student’s strengths and weaknesses. Personality assessments are used to obtain data about a student’s emotional and behavioral functioning. A strong aspect of assessment is the collaborative process in which the school psychologist obtains the teachers’ and parents’ perspectives. This allows the School Psychologist to develop a comprehensive picture of the student, his or her functioning, and how interventions can be developed. Through this process, a multidisciplinary team is developed to determine if a disability is interfering with a student’s ability to learn.
School Psychologists are highly trained in both clinical psychology and educational psychology. They must be certified and/or licensed by the state in which they work, following completion of a master’s degree, post-master’s training (typically an Educational Specialist degree Ed.S.) and site-based internship. They also may be nationally certified by the National School Psychology Certification Board (NSPCB) or the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). The majority of School Psychologists work in public schools, however, other settings of practice includes private school systems, clinics and hospitals, private practice, and universities. School psychologists are trained to serve all age groups from infancy through college, although they primarily serve school-aged children. A Doctoral Level Degree allows a School Psychologist to engage in a Private Practice, unlike the Specialist Degree.
The National Association of School Psychologists recommends training in a NASP approved School Psychology Program. This ensures that a student will receive the proper training necessary to become a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP). Many school systems require or prefer this licensure in order to work in the system. Schools may offer an additional stipend for School Psychologists who Nationally Certified School Psychologists. NASP has created a list of approved training programs in School Psychology: http://www.nasponline.org/certification/NASPapproved.aspx
Professional Organizations for School Psychologists:
Professional Journals in School Psychology
Journal of School Psychology
School Psychology Review
School Psychology Quarterly
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