What does a school psychologist do?

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Adam Lanza, supposedly, had an assigned school psychologist. Contrary to what might be an expected reason now– his potential threat to others – it was, then, his social awkwardness that teachers feared might cause him to suffer bullying by classmates and, potentially, could lead to self-harm. A school psychologist can help students deal with emotional issues, such as bullying or suicidal ideation. In the aftermath of a crisis such as the Newton, Connecticut, school shooting, a school psychologist’s job description also includes assisting in crisis intervention, a job duty that requires them to help others cope with a catastrophic event. On a daily basis, however, their job description comprises working with parents, teachers and students to foster a healthy learning environment.

Major Areas of School Psychologists Work

  • School psychologists engage in many tasks. They work with individuals, groups, classrooms or in a home setting within these major areas.
  • Assessment – observing students, reviewing student records, collecting/analyzing data, researching, reporting to administration
  • Consultation – talking with and receiving input from students, teachers, other school staff and parents
  • Intervention – helping students, parents and teachers to understand and resolve learning barriers – making referrals to and coordinating community support
  • Prevention – designing, promoting and implementing programs to reinforce a positive, mentally safe learning environment – taking leadership in crises – enlisting community support for mental health programs in schools
  • Education – instructing/coaching parents, counseling /mentoring/encouraging students, supporting educators and administrators, informing/collaborating with community support systems

School Psychologists Encounter Problems – Seek Solutions

School psychologists face any number of problems when dealing with children and adolescents. They help students learn to cope and find different ways to respond, as well as, develop ways to improve relationships. These problems include:

  • Dealing with depression/anxiety
  • Lack of motivation, good study/organization skills
  • Failure, falling behind in schoolwork
  • Fear of attending school
  • Dealing with family matters
  • Alcohol and Drug Use
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Issues/concerns with college plans or submissions, quitting school, getting a job

School Psychologists in the Workplace

While most school psychologists work with students in public or private schools, others may earn a doctorate degree and teach in a university or study the behavior of humans. Opening a private practice or working in a residential treatment center or clinic are other ways they may practice professionally.

School Psychologists – A Vital Part of Future Learning

With public schools facing an expected enrollment increase through 2020, qualified school psychologists are in high demand, making the opportunity favorable in job markets. As a result, required yearlong school internships, generally, lead to a job. With more enrollments, schools will have a higher population of students with learning disabilities, special needs and behavioral issues, all of which can require the assistance of a school psychologist who is also a well-trained educator. As these educators continue their learning through professional development courses, they are better equipped to help children succeed in learning and building a future of their own.

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