School psychologists work in elementary and secondary schools to help students struggling with learning, social, depression, and other emotional problems. Schools hire these specialists to ensure students have access to mental health professionals, so they can learn in uncomfortable settings.
School psychologists work individually with students to help them remove barriers hindering success. They frequently meet with parents, teachers, school administrators, and medical professionals to discuss individual students. Many school psychologists develop and oversee student success and health programs.
In addition to working with individual students, school psychologists often organize group sessions to address concerns affecting the entire school. They also frequently organize conflict resolution and peer counseling groups.
Students benefit by having school psychologists available to discuss their concerns and problems. School psychologists are usually able to identify environmental and personal problems that affect a studentís academic progress and happiness. The following are common problems students discuss with them:
Education and Training
- Substance abuse problems
- Physical Abuse
- Learning disabilities
School psychologists are required to hold a graduate degree. Most graduate programs in school psychology require students to complete an internship lasting a year before graduating.
In addition to classroom learning, graduate students enrolled in school psychology programs will have the opportunity to work with students in supervised settings. Graduate students can also specialize to work with these types of students:
Since school psychologists meet with students, teachers, administrators, and others, they must have excellent communication and conflict resolution skills.
- Blind or deaf students
- Students with a native language other than English
- Emotionally disturbed or severely depressed students
- Students in specific age groups
They must also be able to reach students from diverse backgrounds and demonstrate empathy. Itís not uncommon for school psychologists to address these types of problems daily:
School psychologists must be assertive when dealing with students and not avoid controversial topics. Moreover, itís the duty of school psychologists to report physical and sexual abuse to the authorities.
- Depression and suicide
- Family problems
- Physical abuse
- Poor self-esteem
- Issues related to sexuality
- Learning disabilities and special needs
- Drug abuse
- Academic problems
Prior Work Experience
Applicable work experience can be acquired by working as a social worker or counselor. Participating in group research projects or volunteering at community centers can be a great way to obtain experience.
To earn extra income, school psychologists sometimes open private practices and meet with clients during nights and weekends.
Related Associations and Groups
Additional details about school psychologist careers can be obtained from these organizations:
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- American Psychological Society
- American School Counselor Association
- International School Psychology Association
- National Association of School Psychologists.
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