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What is a School Psychologist?

School psychologists help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. They collaborate with educators, parents, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school, and the community for all students.

School psychologists are highly trained in both psychology and education, completing a minimum of a specialist-level degree program (at least 60 graduate semester hours) that includes a year-long supervised internship. This training emphasizes preparation in mental health and educational interventions, child development, learning, behavior, motivation, curriculum and instruction, assessment, consultation, collaboration, school law, and systems. School psychologists must be certified and/or licensed by the state in which they work. They also may be nationally certified by the National School Psychology Certification Board (NSPCB). The National Association of School Psychologists sets ethical and training standards for practice and service delivery.

School Psychologists Work With Students to:
Provide counseling, instruction, and mentoring for those struggling with social, emotional, and behavioral problems
Increase achievement by assessing barriers to learning and determining the best instructional strategies to improve learning
Promote wellness and resilience by reinforcing communication and social skills, problem solving, anger management, self-regulation, self-determination, and optimism
Enhance understanding and acceptance of diverse cultures and backgrounds

School Psychologists Work With Students and Their Families to:
Identify and address learning and behavior problems that interfere with school success
Evaluate eligibility for special education services (within a multidisciplinary team)
Support students’ social, emotional, and behavioral health
Teach parenting skills and enhance home–school collaboration
Make referrals and help coordinate community support services

School Psychologists Work With Teachers to:
Identify and resolve academic barriers to learning
Design and implement student progress monitoring systems
Design and implement academic and behavioral interventions
Support effective individualized instruction
Create positive classroom environments
Motivate all students to engage in learning

School Psychologists Work With Administrators to:
Collect and analyze data related to school improvement, student outcomes, and accountability requirements
Implement school-wide prevention programs that help maintain positive school climates conducive to learning
Promote school policies and practices that ensure the safety of all students by reducing school violence, bullying, and harassment
Respond to crises by providing leadership, direct services, and coordination with needed community services
Design, implement, and garner support for comprehensive school mental health programming.