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School Psychology

School psychologists are uniquely qualified members of school teams that support students' ability to learn and teachers' ability to teach. They apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior, to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. School psychologists partner with families, teachers, school administrators, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school, and the community.

What Training Do School Psychologists Receive? School psychologists receive specialized advanced graduate preparation that includes coursework and practical experiences relevant to both psychology and education. School psychologists typically complete either a specialist-level degree program (at least 60 graduate semester hours) or a doctoral degree (at least 90 graduate semester hours), both of which include a year-long 1200 hour supervised internship. Graduate preparation develops knowledge and skills in:

Data collection and analysis

Progress monitoring
School-wide practices to promote learning
Resilience and risk factors
Consultation and collaboration
Academic/learning interventions
Mental health interventions
Behavioral interventions
Instructional support
Prevention and intervention services
Special education services
Crisis preparedness, response, and recovery
Family-school-community collaboration
Diversity in development and learning
Research and program evaluation
Professional ethics, school law, and systems


School psychologists must be credentialed 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 (NASP) sets standards for graduate preparation, credentialing, professional practice and ethics. The NASP Practice Model (2010) outlines the comprehensive services that school psychologists are encouraged to provide.

Where Do School Psychologists Work? The vast majority of school psychologists work in K-12 public schools. They also provide services in a variety of other settings, including:

Private schools
School district administration offices
School-based health and mental health centers
Community-based day treatment or residential clinics and hospitals
Juvenile justice programs
Independent private practice

What Do School Psychologists Do? School psychologists provide direct support and interventions to students, consult with teachers, families, and other school-employed mental health professionals (i.e., school counselors, school social workers) to improve support strategies, work with school administrators to improve school-wide practices and policies, and collaborate with community providers to coordinate needed services. They help schools successfully:

Improve Academic Achievement

Promote student motivation and engagement
Conduct psychological and academic assessments
Individualize instruction and interventions
Manage student and classroom behavior
Monitor student progress
Collect and interpret student and classroom data
Reduce inappropriate referrals to special education.

Promote Positive Behavior and Mental Health

Improve students communication and social skills
Assess student emotional and behavioral needs
Provide individual and group counseling
Promote problem solving, anger management and conflict resolution
Reinforce positive coping skills and resilience
Promote positive peer relationships and social problem solving
Make referrals to and help coordinate community services provided in schools

Support Diverse Learners

Assess diverse learning needs
Provide culturally responsive services to students and families from diverse backgrounds
Plan appropriate Individualized Education Programs for students with disabilities
Modify and adapt curricula and instruction
Adjust classroom facilities and routines to improve student engagement and learning
Monitor and effectively communicate with parents about student progress

Create Safe, Positive School Climates

Prevent bullying and other forms of violence
Support social-emotional learning
Assess school climate and improve school connectedness
Implement and promote positive discipline and restorative justice
Implement school-wide positive behavioral supports
Identify at risk students and school vulnerabilities
Provide crisis prevention and intervention services

Strengthen Family-School Partnerships

Help families understand their child's learning and mental health needs
Assist in navigating special education processes
Connect families with community service providers when necessary
Help effectively engage families with teachers and other school staff
Enhance staff understanding and responsiveness to diverse cultures and backgrounds
Help students transition between school and community learning environments, such as residential treatment or juvenile justice programs

Improve School-Wide Assessment and Accountability Monitor individual student progress in academics and behavior

Generate and interpret useful student and school outcome data
Collect and analyze data on risk and protective factors related to student outcomes
Plan services at the district, building, classroom, and individual levels

Why Do Children Need School Psychologists? All children and youth can face problems from time to time related to learning; social relationships; making difficult decisions; or managing emotions such as feeling depressed, anxious, worried, or isolated. School psychologists help students, families, educators, and members of the community understand and resolve both long-term, chronic problems and short-term issues that students may face. They are a highly skilled and ready resource in the effort to ensure that all children and youth thrive in school, at home, and in life.

How Do I Contact a School Psychologist? Every school has access to the services of a school psychologist, although some school psychologists serve two or more schools so may not be at a particular school every day. Contact Educational Support Services office at:


Related Resources

School Psychologists: Qualified Health Professionals Providing Child & Adolescent Mental and Behavioral Health Services
NASP advocates for coordinated, comprehensive, and culturally responsive school mental health services delivered within a multitiered system to address the mental and behavioral health needs of all students.