What Does a School Psychologist Do?

by Angela Stevens on July 27, 2009

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I’m often surprised at how many people don’t know what an integral role a school psychologist plays. Overall, the school psychologist’s job is to be an advocate for children in a school setting. They are primarily there to work for and with children in whatever capacity may be necessary. However, it can also go much deeper than that.

What many people don’t realize when they are thinking about earning a degree as a school psychologist is that they will be called upon to work not only with children, but they also work with teachers, parents, and even with the school administrators. Being a school psychologist isn’t simply assisting at risk students or working through emotional issues or problems with various student groups and individuals. The school psychologist performs a wide variety of duties, not just in the schools, but across the community. Here is a breakdown of some of the things you may be required to do as a school psychologist.

  • Develop outreach programs for the school district. The programs can be anything from peer mediation in the schools, to crisis intervention. For instance, school psychologists often work within the school district with administrators and teachers to develop a plan to prevent school violence. The plan is one that can be applied across the board, but is also individualized for the elementary and high school levels.
  • Assist parents and families by teaching them coping skills and working through emotional problems. They also help parents identify and work with learning difficulties and disabilities. Part of a school psychologist’s job is to make sure the school and parents are doing everything they can to make sure a student is successful at school. If there are problems in the family, the psychologist can offer some counseling or refer a family to counseling, teach parenting skills, and even help them find support groups if necessary.
  • Serve as a liaison and assistant to teachers on a variety of levels. Psychologists will administer and record the results of testing and screenings so that teachers are better able to serve the students’ needs. They also provide instruction and aid in creating a successful classroom setting so that students get the full benefit of a constructive classroom. For students who have special needs or disabilities, the psychologist will serve alongside and parents to determine the best course of action for at risk students and those with special needs.

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A psychologist’s role is also vital in the community. It is likely that you would work with several schools within a district and gather information and create plans on how to best serve the schools concerning student and social issues. Even students at the university level require some assistance in achieving academic and personal success. The job of a school psychologist is often times part educator, mentor, activist, and strategist. As tiring as all that sounds, I found that, when I was working in a school, I was deeply rewarded each time I witnessed a troubled youth’s turnaround or success. It is a very rewarding position!

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