What is a School Psychologist? I get asked this question, whenever I tell someone that I am a school psychologist. In most school districts across the United States, school-based mental health, special education, and administration teams are not complete without having a school psychologist. Yet, many parents, students, and sometimes even educators do not know what is a school psychologist is or does.
School Psychology Defined
According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP, 2017), “School psychologists are uniquely qualified members of school teams that support students’ ability to learn and teachers’ ability to teach.” That is to say, School Psychologists are important members of school teams who help bridge the gap between behavioral and social-emotional concerns and academic achievement. School psychologists understand students from a well-rounded perspective.
What is the Role of a School Psychologist?
While most school psychologists work in schools, they can also be found in outpatient therapy clinics, diagnostic (testing only) clinics, and hospital settings. For this post, we will focus on school-based school psychologists. The role of a school psychologist varies depending on the setting, the school district and/or the specific school. Why? Because school psychologists are knowledgeable in a variety of areas:
5) psychoeducational assessment.
Therefore, in some schools, school psychologists are a member of the administrative team and helps the school (i.e., principals and vice/assistant principals) make informed decisions on student discipline policies including positive behavioral interventions and social-emotional support systems. In other schools, school psychologists work under the umbrella of special education (SPED) services.
What does a School Psychologist Do?
Given the areas of expertise of school psychologists, we often perform many roles. We regularly consult with classroom teachers regarding a specific student’s disruptive behaviors. We collect data to understand a student’s, or many students’, academic performance to help educators make appropriate selections for academic interventions. We assess individual students’ cognitive, social-emotional, and academic functioning as related to their academic performance. This is often referred to as conducting psychoeducational evaluations. Sometimes, school psychologists even provide therapeutic interventions for students during school hours. Finally, schools psychologists are often critical team members in prevention and de-escalation of crises such as for school shootings and suicide cases.
Important to Remember: