School psychology is a field that blends the research and practice of psychology and education to help children and adolescents academically, emotionally, behaviorally, and socially. School psychologists work with teachers, parents and school personnel to create safe, healthy and supportive learning environments for all students. They address students’ learning and behavioral problems, as well as suggest improvements to classroom management strategies or parenting techniques. School psychologists are the mental health professionals who are trained to link mental health to learning and behavior in terms of prevention, intervention and outcomes evaluation. They are responsible for evaluating students to help determine the best way to educate them. They also may evaluate the effectiveness of academic programs, prevention programs and other services provided in the school setting.
School psychologists are highly trained in both psychology and education. 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. To work in the schools as a school psychologist within North Carolina, one must have a degree (e.g., M.A., Ed.S., CAS or Ph.D.) in the field of school psychology specifically. North Carolina School Psychologists may also be nationally certified by the National School Psychology Certification Board (NSPCB).
School Psychologist services include, but are not limited to:
- Providing counseling, instruction, and mentoring for students struggling with academic, social, emotional, and behavioral problems
- Increasing achievement by assessing barriers to learning and determining the best instructional strategies to improve learning
- Promoting wellness and resilience by reinforcing communication and social skills, problem solving, anger management, self-regulation, self-determination, and optimism
- Evaluating students for eligibility for special education services (within a multidisciplinary team).
- Identifying/addressing learning and behavior problems that interfere with school success
- Enhancing understanding and acceptance of diverse cultures and backgrounds
- Referring and help coordinate community support services
- Supporting effective individualized instruction
- Creating positive classroom environments
- Collecting and analyzing data related to school improvement, student outcomes, and accountability requirements
- Implementing school-wide prevention programs that help maintain positive school climates conducive to learning and promote school policies and practices that ensure the safety of all students by reducing school violence, bullying, and harassment
- Responding to crises by providing leadership, direct services, and coordination with needed community services
School Psychologists work with all children in schools. In addition to helping keep all students in schools healthy and safe, they provide unique services for students with disabilities. More information about how school psychologists help with this population, school psychology programs and certification in North Carolina, links to professional organizations and other resources, are available on the Exceptional Children website at http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/instructional-resources/school-psychology.