Career as an School Psychologist
A School Psychologist is someone who helps children and youth succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. School psychologists help students by applying the values of learning and behaviour to improve school-related difficulties and by encouraging the learning and development of children. They get together with educators, parents, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments for all students. School psychologists provide a wide range of skills in order to address student needs and to improve school support systems. They offer psychological evaluations, and consult with school teachers and principals in regards to the students’ learning, behaviour, and environments. They also provide individual and group interventions, as well as counseling. School Psychologists provide training to teachers regarding learning and mental health topics, such as behaviour management, referral process, etc. Although they are not generally trained teachers, school psychologists do bring a unique presence to the educational arena. They look at the effectiveness of school programs, and their skill in research and planning provide a strong base in the development of interventions. One of the main duties of a school psychologist is assessment. Assessments are conducted with students suspected of having a disability in order to determine eligibility for special services. A cognitive battery is administered to obtain a level of intellectual functioning, learning potential, and an understanding of the student’s strengths and weaknesses. Personality assessments obtain data about a student’s emotional and behavioural functioning. A strong part of the assessment is obtaining the teachers’ and parents’ perspectives; this allows the school psychologist to develop a complete picture of the student, his or her abilities, and how interventions can be developed. By using this process, a multidisciplinary team is developed to establish if a disability is interfering with a student’s ability to learn. School Psychologists also offer consultations to teachers as a way of providing an intervention for a student in a classroom. This is a way for school psychologists and teachers to promote success for students who are struggling or displaying behavioural, emotional, or academic difficulties. Together, the school psychologist and the teacher identify the problem, develop certain goals, create interventions, and hopefully help the student become more successful.