What You Should Know About School Psychologist Careers
Where School Psychologists Work
School psychologists work in elementary and secondary schools to help students struggling with learning, social, depression, and other emotional or mental problems. School districts and schools hire these psychology specialists to ensure that their students have access to mental health professionals in the hopes that they will adapt to learning in a classroom setting.
Job Description of a School Psychologist
School psychologists work individually with students to help them remove barriers hindering success. They frequently meet with parents, teachers, school administrators, and medical professionals to discuss individual students. Many school psychologists develop and oversee student success and health programs.
In addition to working with individual students, school psychologists often organize group sessions to address concerns affecting the entire school. They also frequently organize conflict resolution and peer counseling groups.
Students benefit by having school psychologists available to discuss their concerns and problems. School psychologists are usually able to identify environmental and personal problems that affect a student's academic progress and happiness. The following are common problems students discuss with them:
- Substance abuse problems
- Physical Abuse
- Learning disabilities
School Psychologist Salaries
Required Education, Training, and Skills
School psychologists are required to hold a graduate degree. Most graduate programs in school psychology require students to complete an internship lasting a year before graduating.
In addition to classroom learning, graduate students enrolled in school psychology programs will have the opportunity to work with students in supervised settings. Graduate students can also specialize to work with these types of students:
- Blind or deaf students
- Students with a native language other than English
- Emotionally disturbed or severely depressed students
- Students in specific age groups
Since school psychologists meet with students, teachers, administrators, and others, they must have excellent communication and conflict resolution skills.
They must also be able to reach students from diverse backgrounds and demonstrate empathy. It's not uncommon for school psychologists to address these types of problems daily:
- Depression and suicide
- Family problems
- Physical abuse
- Poor self-esteem
- Issues related to sexuality
- Learning disabilities and special needs
- Drug abuse
- Academic problems
School psychologists must be assertive when dealing with students and not avoid controversial topics. Moreover, it's the duty of school psychologists to report physical and sexual abuse to the authorities.
Prior Work Experience
Applicable work experience can be acquired by working as a social worker or counselor. Participating in group research projects or volunteering at community centers can be a great way to obtain experience.
Related Psychololgy Associations and Groups
Additional details about school psychologist careers can be obtained from these organizations:
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- American Psychological Society
- American School Counselor Association
- International School Psychology Association
- National Association of School Psychologists.