The name is quite self-explanatory. It's a psychologist who works in a school or a university. They provide guidance and help for students who have problems. Not just problems in school performance, but socialization, emotional, and personal issues too. They work with teachers, students, and parents to make the child as happy and healthy as possible.
You'd be quite surprised at how new the concept of a school psychologist is. NASP, the National Association of School Psychology, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. Despite its new presence, it's growing as more students need someone who can help them.
There are ten services that school psychologists provide. We shall discuss them below.
Data-Based Decision Making
This involves collecting data from different sources to make a decision when it comes to programming, students, and other plans. This can involve studies, surveys, observance, and any other way used to collect information. This is a serious profession, as it can affect the school. Also, data is always changing, so when a decision is made, it's common for that decision to be revisited should new data contradict it.
Consultation And Collaboration
A psychologist is going to talk to many students. Some of those students may need to be talked to one time. This is a consultation. Some of the more troubled students may need repeated sessions. This is a collaboration. Sometimes, a student may come in for what they think is a one-time consultation, and it turns into collaboration.
Interventions And Instructional Support For Academic Skills
Sometimes, a student is not doing well when it comes to their grades. The student may be bright, but maybe going through a rough patch, or doesn't understand the work provided. A psychologist can figure out why the student is suffering and help them improve their grades. They then can monitor their progress, and once they have improved, it's a success.
Interventions Of Social And Life Skills
A student may not be social. Perhaps they are a new student, or they are going through something else. Sometimes, they need to learn some valuable life skills. A counselor can help the student learn how to socialize and improve their overall quality of life.
Examples of life skills:
School-Wide Learning Practices
Sometimes, a psychologist may work with the entire school to make the learning environment as effective as possible. They may try to change the techniques used by certain teachers to make them more effective, add some new programs in the school, and do whatever else it takes to create the best learning environment.
Preventive And Response Services
The last thing a school wants is a tragedy. Be it an assault, a fight, a shooting, or anything else that can result in others being hurt. A psychologist can try to prevent situations like this from happening by spreading awareness and helping troubled students. When a tragedy strikes, a school psychologist needs to be there to provide support and counseling towards all those who were affected.
Family-School Collaboration Services
School psychologists will work with the relationship between the family and school to achieve the most success possible. There may be unresolved issues as a home that may contribute to the student's performance, and the school can recommend the family make changes to improve the student's grades. Sometimes, both parties will work together. Other times, the psychologist can be the mediator between school and family when opinions clash.
Diversity In Development And Learning
One of the flaws of many public schools is it is one size fits all approach to learning. Some schools act like one style of learning will benefit the entire school, when in reality, students learn in different ways. This can depend on how their brain is wired, what their background is, and many other factors. A psychologist studies the many ways people learn and gives suggestions based on that.
Research And Program Evaluation
When a new learning program is introduced, it must be studied and researched. If a program turns out to show no improvement in the students' performance, it must be tweaked or scrapped altogether. If there is an improvement, then the program should carry on and perhaps be tweaked so that the progress can be even more. A psychologist researches all these programs and then sees whether or not they work, or if they need improvement.
Legal, Ethical And Professional Practice
A psychologist will give out advice on what is legal and ethical in a school, and help to keep each practice as professional as possible. If there is an ethical problem in the school, the psychologist will work to respond and collaborate with others to fix it.
How School Psychologists Help A Student Over the Years
As a student grows, a school psychologist needs to grow with the student. Here are some examples of how a psychologist's services grow.
A child has a unique mind, and a psychologist who works at an elementary school needs to learn how to communicate with a child. At this age, the importance of teaching right from wrong is emphasized, and this is where a psychologist observes a child's mental health and their learning abilities. How a child is treated during this stage is strongly important to development, and a psychologist needs to realize this and make sure the child is developing well.
Middle school is when the child is beginning to grow into adolescence. Many changes are going through the child's body, and personalities can change too. A psychologist at this stage needs to monitor the student's growth and teach them about the changes in their body. This is also a stage where learning needs may change.
Changes continue to happen in the adolescent's body. High school is the period where the student becomes more sexually active and will get into a relationship. There's a chance the student may become more delinquent or rebel. A counselor needs to monitor any changes in the student and then act accordingly should they occur.
High school is also the time when the student starts thinking about their career. A psychologist can offer career advice and make a realistic plan for the student to achieve their goals. Also, if the students want to go to a university, a plan shall be made there too.
The student is now a young adult, and the psychologist is still there to offer advice. Some students reconsider their major or still haven't decided yet. A counselor can help them decide on a career. A psychologist at a university can help the student deal with any stress that comes with college, and help them create a plan to find a career, pay off their debts, and succeed in the world.
Most private schools offer some form of counseling as well. If the private school is religion-based, they may hire counselors who have studied the faith. For example, a Christian school may hire a Christian counselor to help. A Christian counselor can teach the student from a Biblical perspective about how the world works and what they can do to strengthen their faith in God. Most of the time, their services are similar and help the child prepare for the real world.
Requirements To Be A Psychologist In School
Like a normal psychologist, a school psychologist requires quite a few certifications. In most cases, a school psychologist will need a master's and will require licensing. It's a tough process, but many school psychologists are glad to do it. Not just for the money, but because it's a rewarding career. School psychologists like to make relationships with the students and watch them grow. School, especially early schooling, can shape how the child grows in the future, and a psychologist needs to put them on the right track if the student is to succeed and lead a healthy and productive life.
If you need help from a psychologist, and you're not in school, it's never too late to change your life. You can find a therapist who is right for you and make the changes you deserve. From treating your mental illnesses to improving your overall well-being, a psychologist can change your life in many ways.
Even if you don't have any mental problems, therapy can help strengthen your relationships and accomplish your goals. You'll be surprised at what they can do for you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What exactly does a school psychologist do?
School psychologists work with students in schools, often serving as school counselors. They offer support to students related to mental health, learning, behavior, and social skills to help them thrive academically and in life. School psychologists are required to complete several years of psychology programs, earning a graduate degree at a minimum, and are often required by their state laws to complete postgraduate psychology school before becoming licensed. The National Association of School Psychologists is a professional association representing over 25,000 school psychologist professionals dedicated to the mission of improving students’ lives, and provides help finding psychology programs to school psychologists in their early career stages.
Do you need a PHD to be a school psychologist?
You do not necessarily need a PhD to be a school psychologist. A master’s degree in school psychology, educational psychology, or a related field is required, and it is determined at the state level if a doctorate degree in school psychology is additionally required to become a school counselor. Beyond that, A school psychologist must obtain a license from their state’s department of education as part of their requirements in becoming a school counselor. The National Association of School Psychologists is a great resource to find a school psychology program and explore the career paths that interest you. If you’re in the early career stages on your path to becoming a school psychologist, the National Association of School Psychologists NASP will help guide you on your way.
Is a school psychologist a psychologist?
Yes, school psychologists are psychologists. School psychologists work with students school wide within their school. School psychology and educational psychology are both the study of learning and development in school-age children, as well as school systems and the classroom environment. Career paths for a degree in school psychology usually lead to a role as school counselor. The National Association of School Psychologists is a helpful tool to find a school psychology program that is right for you.
Is school psychology a good career?
Yes, school psychology is a good career. In fact, the 2019 US News and World Report ranked school psychology #45 on their list of 100 Best Jobs and listed it at #2 on their list of Best Social Services Jobs. The National School Psychologists NASP boasts over 25,000 professionals and offers support and resources for school psychologists.
Are School Psychologists in demand?
Yes, school psychologists are in demand. The field of psychology is expected to grow by 14% between 2018 and 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. School psychology is in demand because school psychologists work with youth in schools and improve schools’ curriculum and learning environments.
Is school psychology stressful?
Yes, school psychology is often stressful. Between the time commitment involved completing psychology programs and degrees and then offering psychological services to youth in schools, some of whom are coping with social, behavioral, mental, or academic challenges, it can be a stressful career that weighs heavily on the school psychologist. On that note, it can also be a deeply rewarding profession. The National Association of School Psychologists NASP is a professional association that offers support to school psychologists.
Can I be a school psychologist with a Masters in psychology?
Many states require a postgraduate degree, so the extent of psychology programs needing completed will depend on the laws in your state. Some allow the private practice of a school psychologist with the completion of a graduate degree in a psychology program. The National Association of School Psychologists is a professional association that helps school psychologists in their early career find psychology programs based on the laws of their state.
Do all schools have a school psychologist?
Not all schools have a school wide school psychologist because of budget constraints.
What is the starting salary for school psychologist?
The starting salary for a school psychologist in their early career stages averages around $54,000 a year. Factors that determine the exact amount include your state of employment, psychology programs completed, and experience in the field. The completion of a postgraduate psychology program will net you a higher salary.