What Is a School Psychologist? | PCOM School Psychology Programs
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What Is a School Psychologist?

School psychologists apply knowledge of learning, behavior and mental health to support students and teachers in many K-12 public schools. They are uniquely qualified members of school teams that support a student’s ability to learn and a teacher’s ability to teach.

School psychologists apply expertise in mental health learning and behavior to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally and emotionally.

What do school psychologists do?

School psychologists partner with families, teachers, administrators and other educational professionals to promote safe, healthy and supportive learning environments that strengthen the connections between home, school and the community.

A school psychologist works with a student to support learning, behavior and mental health.According to Jessica Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D, school psychology is unique in that it bridges the disciplines of education and psychology.

“We use psychological principles in educational environments to promote optimal learning for children and to promote their social, emotional and academic development,” she said.

This process may include assessment, prevention, intervention and consultation.

As part of the assessment process, a school psychologist will determine the level of current skills and functioning.

“This can be cognitive skills, so things related to learning and memory. This can be academic skills … how well does this child know how to do addition and subtraction? We also can do assessments related to how well they could perform academically,” Kendorski said. “Once we have these assessments and we’re able to see where a child is, then we help support teachers and families and other personnel with interventions.”

The interventions, she explained, are evidence-based interventions known to be successful in the classroom.

“We tend to do a lot of consultation with teachers and parents in order to have them implement effective interventions,” she added.

How do I become a school psychologist?

School psychologists must develop skills in psychology, education and child development. To do this, school psychologists complete specialized coursework including topics such as education, school organization and special education policies and procedures. Practical experiences are also a key part of a school psychologist’s training.

PCOM’s school psychology programs prepare graduates to apply content knowledge in practical skills through a dual foundation base of education and psychology. The fully-accredited Educational Specialist (EdS) program prepares graduates for certification as a school psychologist. The Doctor of Psychology in School Psychology (PsyD) program prepares graduates for work as entry level health service psychologists with a specialization in school psychology.

“Every child in this country has a right to be educated to the best of their abilities and not all children are the same,” Kendorski said. “School psychology supports the diversity of students to ensure that they are able, and that we support them, to meet the best of their ability.”