Exploring the Field of School Psychology

As a student, you have likely interacted with teachers, counselors, administration, student teachers, and other staff. However, did you know that there may have been a school psychologist in your building as well? Many people do not know about school psychology. This often overlooked role is incredibly important!

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.

National association of school psychologists (NASP)

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) describes the various roles involved.

Domains include:

NASP Practice Model

Domain 1: Data-Based Decision Making

Domain 2: Consultation and Collaboration

Domain 3Academic Interventions and Instructional Supports

Domain 4Mental and Behavioral Health Services and Interventions

Domain 5School-Wide Practices to Promote Learning

Domain 6Services to Promote Safe and Supportive Schools

Domain 7Family, School, and Community Collaboration

Domain 8Equitable Practices for Diverse Student Populations

Domain 9Research and Evidence-Based Practice 

Domain 10Legal, Ethical, and Professional Practice

Dive deeper into each practice domain here!

What are the education and training requirements?

While some school psychologists have a Ph.D. or Psy.D. (doctoral degrees), those are not required to practice as a school psychologist in the public school setting. A majority of school psychologists have Master’s/Specialist level degrees.

These programs involve advanced graduate education in topics related to education, psychology, child/adolescent development, psychopathology, assessments, interventions, consultation, statistics, and research.

School Psychology Curriculum Example

Based on my experience, there is much overlap between different programs regarding the curriculum. Other than the foundation coursework, several programs include experiences to practice skills in schools and/or other settings (e.g., psychological clinic). There is also a research component, such as a directed research project or a thesis. The first two years of the program is coursework and these applied experiences. The third year of the program is a full-time internship.

Want to explore more?

Compared to other fields (e.g., medicine), there are very limited resources for those interested in pursuing a degree. However, I managed to find a few! I’ll share them below:

  • National Association of School Psychologists website is an awesome resource to check out!
  • It’s Always about the Children – Charles A. Barrett
    • This one seems quite popular. In fact, during a grad school interview, a professor said that all of their grad students read this book!
  • Today in School Psychology: This is why a Day without Direct Contact with Students is Wasted – Charles A. Barrett
    • This one is very brief. It provides some snippets into the day of a school psychologist, like a series of diary entries.
  • The Thriving School Psychologist: 4 Steps to Better Time Management, Lower Stress, and More Impact in Your School Community – Beyond Testing – Rebecca Branstetter, Ph.D.
    • This one illustrated the complexity of school psychology. There are many issues to overcome. Stories of many school psychologists are used as examples of issues and how steps were implemented to improve the situations at their respective schools.
  • Check out social media!
    • I’m not even joking! There are so many current school psychology graduate students creating content (e.g., Instagram informative posts, vlogs on YouTube, blogs). Such content includes tips for new students or early career school psychologists. These accounts definitely provide some insight into the field. I’ll link some examples below!

Are you interested in School Psychology?

Have you explored it at all? Let me know!

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