Who Are School Psychologists?
School psychologists have specialized training in both psychology and
education. They use their training and skills to team with educators,
parents, and other mental health professionals to ensure that every child
learns in a safe, healthy and supportive environment. School
psychologists understand school systems, effective teaching and
successful learning. Today’s children face more challenges than ever
before. School psychologists can provide solutions for tomorrow’s
problems through thoughtful and positive actions today.
The training requirements to become a school psychologist are a
minimum of 60 graduate semester hours including a year-long internship.
This training emphasizes preparation in mental health, child development,
school organization, learning, behavior and motivation. To work as a
school psychologist, one must be certified and/or licensed by the state in
which services are provided. School psychologists also may be nationally
certified by the National School Psychology Certification Board
What Do School Psychologists Do?
School psychologists tailor their services to
the particular needs of each
child and each situation. School psychologists use many different
approaches, but most provide these core services:
give healthy and effective alternatives to teachers,
administrators about problems in learning and behavior
help others understand child development and how it affects
learning and behavior
strengthen working relationships between educators, parents and
Assessment — use a wide variety of techniques at an individual, group,
and systems level to evaluate:
personality and emotional development
learning environments and school climate
eligibility for special education
work face-to-face with children and families
help solve conflicts and problems in learning and adjustment
provide psychological counseling for children and families
provide social skills training, behavior management, and other
help families and schools deal with crises, such as separation and
identify potential learning difficulties
design programs for children at risk of failure
provide parents and teachers with the skills to cope with disruptive
help foster tolerance, understanding, and appreciation of diversity
in the school community
develop school-wide initiatives to make schools safer and more
develop programs on topics such as:
teaching and learning strategies
classroom management techniques
working with students who have disabilities or unusual talents
Research and Planning
evaluate the effectiveness of academic programs,
management systems, and other services
generate new knowledge about learning and behavior
contribute to planning and evaluating school-wide reform and
Health Care Provision
collaborate with school and community-based personnel
provide a comprehensive model of school-linked health services
work with children and families to provide integrated community
services focusing on psychosocial wellness and health-related
developing partnerships with parents and teachers to create
healthy school environments
Where Do School Psychologists Work?
The majority of school psychologists are employed
in public and private
school systems. However, school psychologists practice in a variety of
public and private schools
school-based health centers
clinics and hospitals
university, community and state agencies, and other institutions
Growing Up Isn’t Easy
All children and adolescents face problems from time to time. They may:
have fears about starting school
manage their time poorly
fall behind in school work
be upset about family events such as divorce and death
experiment with drugs or alcohol
think about suicide
lack study skills
worry about their sexuality
face a tough decision about college or work
consider dropping out of school
not be aware of their aptitudes and abilities
School psychologists are there to help parents, educators, and the
community understand and solve these problems.
understand how schools work and how children learn
provide easily accessible, cost-effective mental health services to
promote positive mental health and a safe and effective learning
The following example situations show you how
school psychologists typically approach a problem so
you will know what to expect.
A Slow Reader
Tommy’s parents were concerned about his slow reading. They worried
he might fall behind and lose confidence.
At school the teacher noticed that Tommy understood the work when it
was presented orally but he relied on classmates to help him do written
work. The school psychologist worked with Tommy’s parents and
teachers to develop a plan to improve his reading and writing. The plan
worked and Tommy’s reading and confidence improved.
By dealing with learning problems early on, school psychologists can help
prevent further difficulties.
A Family Problem
The teacher noticed that Cara, an able student, stopped participating in
class discussions and had trouble paying attention.
The school psychologist was asked to explore why Cara’s behavior had
changed so much. After learning that her parents were getting a divorce,
the school psychologist provided counseling for Cara and offered
recommendations to her parents during this difficult period. Cara’s
behavior and self-esteem improved, and she felt more confident about
her continuing relationship with her parents.
School psychologists can be trusted to deal in confidence with sensitive
personal and family matters.
A Potential Dropout
David was a high school sophomore who frequently skipped classes. He
was disruptive in class and had been suspended several times for fighting.
After building a relationship with David, the school psychologist helped
him learn simple relaxation and anger control techniques. David’s mother
and teacher worked together on a plan developed by the school
psychologist to provide consistent limits and open communication.
Changes in school and home environments can improve the quality oflife
for children and family members.
The National Association of School
Psychologists represents more than
24,000 school psychologists and related practitioners who serve the
education and mentalhealth needs of children, adolescents, young adults,
For more information, contact:
The National Association of School Psychologists
4340 East West Highway, Suite 402
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
Copyright 1999 NASP (used with permission)