School Psychology, Education, and Mental Health
16th October 2023
... Plus the role of social workers, and the benefits of Interpersonal Therapy
The Work of Psychologists/Social Workers in Schools
School psychologists can be a vital link in the support team for children and teens. However, not every school has a psychologist, and a social worker might fill the role usually reserved for the psychologist in some schools.
Interpersonal or talk therapy is one way in which school psychologists, social workers, or other professionals might interact with children and teens. This can be of value in helping students get through crises or to deal with childhood or teen depression, family upheaval, or other crises.
School psychologists work with students in early childhood, and elementary and secondary schools. They collaborate with teachers, parents, and school personnel to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments for all students.
The school psychologist attempts to address the students' learning and behavioral problems, suggest improvements to classroom management strategies or parenting techniques, and evaluate students with disabilities, as well as gifted and talented students, to help determine the best way to educate them. They help improve teaching and learning, as well as encourage socialization strategies based on their understanding of the psychology of learning environments.
They also may evaluate the effectiveness of academic programs, prevention programs, behavior management procedures, and other services provided in the school setting.
The school psychologist can take on different roles in various schools and in different school systems. It's definitely not a cookie-cutter job.
In 2006 there were 152,000 clinical, counseling, or school psychologists in the United States.
The child study team in a school setting usually consists of a school psychologist, a social worker, and possibly a psychiatrist. Special education staff is also involved.
Some school systems have parent liaisons who serve as a communication link. At times, the role of the social worker may blend into that of a therapist or psychologist within the public school, especially when there is no school psychologist or clinical psychologist in the school itself. Some high schools may have a full-time clinical psychologist.
Special Education Programs and Individualized Attention are Crucial
Children thrive with one-on-one attention. Special education classrooms where there is a greater teacher-to-student ratio, and where there may be attentive teacher's assistants and/or student aides, can help a child experiencing difficulties do well academically and get the attention he or she needs.
Some children experience a "miraculous" turnaround when they receive individual attention from various sources. Some of the positive effects sometimes attributed to medication might in fact be due to the attention a child receives from supportive staff and professionals.
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The Value of Parental Training - Ideas from school psychologist Keisha Hill
Keisha Hill, Ed.S, a school psychologist who works in Paterson, New Jersey public schools, comments on parental training and what schools can do. Her ideas are being implemented in a number of public schools in Paterson, NJ, Newark, NJ, and other inner-city schools.
Keisha Hill works daily with children who have ADHD and other special needs. Apart from what can be accomplished within the school system, Dr. Hill recognizes that the home environment plays a vital role in a child's ability to concentrate in school, as well as his or her psychological and emotional development.
With that in mind, she recommends parental training for parents whose children have special needs. Parental training groups can be very valuable when children have special needs, and these can be provided by educators and psychologists from within the school system.
"Every day I talk to hard-working educators, parents, guardians, and grandparents who are calling out for help in dealing with children with ADD/ADHD. Regarding the classroom, teachers and staff would benefit from more training in research-proven strategies for children with ADD/ADHD.
Furthermore, from what I have seen, these strategies are potentially beneficial to all students, even those without attention difficulties.
However, the school, on its own, cannot create optimal environments for children with ADD/ADHD. The home environment component is very important. Although many parents are doing the best they possibly can to help their inattentive/hyperactive child to just make it through the day without a tantrum or crisis, parent training groups have proven to be very effective in the gathering of fresh ideas and support for many a frustrated/tired parent.
For example, once parents understand that children with attention difficulties can not self-regulate or 'keep everything together' as well as other children, they will need assistance from a parent with concepts such as decision-making, time-management, and organization. Keisha L. Hill, Ed.S.