What is a School Psychologist?
School psychologists are uniquely qualified members of school teams that support students' ability to learn and teachers' ability to teach. They apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior, to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. School psychologists partner with families, teachers, school administrators, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school, and the community.
What Training Do School Psychologists Receive?
School psychologists receive specialized advanced graduate preparation that includes coursework and practical experiences relevant to both psychology and education. School psychologists typically complete either a specialist-level degree program (at least 60 graduate semester hours) or a doctoral degree (at least 90 graduate semester hours), both of which include a year-long 1200 hour supervised internship (see an Overview of Differences Among Degrees in School Psychology). Graduate preparation develops knowledge and skills in:
School psychologists must be credentialed by the state in which they work. They also may be nationally certified by the National School Psychology Certification Board (NSPCB). The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) sets standards for graduate preparation, credentialing, professional practice and ethics. The NASP Practice Model (2010) outlines the comprehensive services that school psychologists are encouraged to provide.
Where Do School Psychologists Work?
The vast majority of school psychologists work in K-12 public schools. They also provide services in a variety of other settings, including:
What Do School Psychologists Do?
School psychologists provide direct support and interventions to students, consult with teachers, families, and other school-employed mental health professionals (i.e., school counselors, school social workers) to improve support strategies, work with school administrators to improve school-wide practices and policies, and collaborate with community providers to coordinate needed services. They help schools successfully:
Improve Academic Achievement
Promote Positive Behavior and Mental Health
Support Diverse Learners
Create Safe, Positive School Climates
Strengthen Family-School Partnerships
Improve School-Wide Assessment and Accountability Monitor individual student progress in academics and behavior
Why Do Children Need School Psychologists?
All children and youth can face problems from time to time related to learning; social relationships; making difficult decisions; or managing emotions such as feeling depressed, anxious, worried, or isolated. School psychologists help students, families, educators, and members of the community understand and resolve both long-term, chronic problems and short-term issues that students may face. They are a highly skilled and ready resource in the effort to ensure that all children and youth thrive in school, at home, and in life.
How Do I Contact a School Psychologist?
Every school has access to the services of a school psychologist, although some school psychologists serve two or more schools so may not be at a particular school every day. Most often, school psychologists can be reached by inquiring at the school directly, the district's central office, or locating contact information on the school or district website.