ERIC Identifier: ED390017
Publication Date: 1995-00-00
Author: Kamphaus, R. W.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Student Services Greensboro NC., American Psychological
Association Washington DC.
Psychological Services in the Schools. ERIC Digest.
Psychological services have been part of the American schooling experience
for nearly a century. In fact, the Child Study Bureau of the Chicago Public
Schools (the first recognized school psychology service) traces its roots to
1898 (French, 1990). The nature of school psychology services, however, has
changed dramatically over the decades so that modern school psychology services
differ significantly from their roots (Bardon, 1990).
For much of this century school psychology services have emphasized
assessment practice. School psychologists have primarily been involved in
evaluating the needs of children in order to determine eligibility for special
education and related services (Bardon, 1990). Although, school psychology
services have always been diverse, the array of practice has not been as visible
as the central assessment role. For example, even when carrying out primarily
assessment duties school psychologists have been involved in delivery of
interventions, research planning and consultation, and administration.
Over the course of the past couple of decades school psychology services have
expanded to meet a broader array of needs. In some cases, indirect service
delivery has become the norm and school psychology services have increasingly
influenced the entire student body, not just children who are identified as
having special needs (Bardon, 1990). School psychology services will continue to
evolve to include a changing array of services that will likely be characterized
by increasing diversity (Bardon, 1990).
The entry level requirements for school
psychology practitioners continue to increase as the profession continually
aspires to higher levels of expertise. In addition, large numbers of providers
possess a doctoral degree and, increasingly, school psychologists are seeking
formal post-doctoral training experiences.
School psychology services are typically delivered by individuals with
graduate-level training in psychology and education. Some service providers
possess a master's or educational specialist degree and are credentialed by a
state board of education or other sanctioning body. Other service providers
include Psychologists holding the doctoral degree who are licensed for the
independent practice of psychology and who hold specialty expertise in school
psychology. In some cases psychological services in the schools may be delivered
by psychologists with various types of specialty training such as counseling
psychology or developmental psychology.
ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE OF SERVICES
services may be organized in the schools in a variety of ways. In some schools,
psychologists form a unit within a pupil personnel team that is chaired by a
psychologist. In this organizational structure, school psychology services
reflect their historical association with the child study bureau found in urban
schools in the early part of this century. In other school districts,
psychologists are stationed at individual schools and they may be only loosely
affiliated with other psychologists serving the same school district.
Health care and education reform portend great changes for the organization
of school psychology services. School psychologists may now be found to be part
of school-based health clinics and community mental health centers. In some
cases school psychological services are provided by psychologists who are
employed in independent health care provider groups.
Regardless of organizational structure, school psychologists offer a similar
core of health care services and, where a psychologist holds a special
expertise, an expanded array of services.
Some of the core psychological services,
which are offered by psychologists in the schools, include the following (APA,
Assessment of a student's needs and characteristics that are related to a
child's performance in school. Typically, assessment services are broadly
defined to include other factors that may affect a child's progress, such as
parent and teacher variables, and macrovariables such as school climate and
Direct and indirect interventions that improve the adaptation of a child, group
of children, parents, teachers, or other individuals or groups. Direct
interventions may involve services such as individual or group counseling or the
delivery of parent or teacher education programs. Examples of indirect services
include consultations with teachers, parents, or principals to effect change
that, in turn, may influence a child's or group of children's educational or
Program development and evaluation. School psychologists are frequently sought
out to join school- or community-based groups that are designing intervention
programs for large numbers of individuals. School psychologists bring
psychological knowledge, measurement expertise, and other skills to such
Supervision and coordination of school psychology or related services. School
psychology is often called on to fill administrative or quasi-administrative
roles in schools and other settings. School psychologists may be found in the
ranks of directors of health-care clinics, special education, and health-related
services among other administrative roles.
SPECIALIZED AND EMERGING SERVICES
School psychologists with
post-doctoral training or other experiences often provide an expanded array of
services to school children. Some psychologists work in school district research
centers conducting research on learning, assessment, or program effectiveness.
Others possess expertise in pediatrics, allowing them to consult with teachers
regarding the adaptation of a child with Sickle Cell Disease or Acute
Lymphocytic Leukemia to schooling. Still others possess special expertise in
family therapy, neuropsychology, statistics and measurement, infant and
preschool development, behavioral medicine or other areas.
School psychology services are also expanding rapidly to meet societal needs.
Examples of the types of needs being met through expanded services include the
habilitating of learning disabled adults to college, cognitive therapy for
brain-injured adults and geriatric populations, and the design of computer-based
training and assessment paradigms for individuals of all ages.
Psychological services in the schools continue to
adapt to the needs of society by expanding to meet these needs with newly
developed services. As schools strive to meet the needs of children and as
society addresses the educational and related needs of all individuals, the
demand for an expanded array of services will continue. Moreover, the clientele
served by school psychology methods continues to expand to include all children
in schools, groups of individuals, organizations, and adults.
The science of human behavior, that is psychology, has a wide range of
application. Given the crucial nature of schooling it is no wonder that
psychology has proven to be an important liaison between schooling and children;
the applied arm of the discipline will again be called upon to apply this
expertise for the benefit of future generations. Given the ebb and flow of
scientific discovery it is impossible to specify the future of service delivery.
If past experience is predictive of the future, then it is likely that the core
services will remain but they will be overshadowed by newer methods and
procedures that are delivered via new organizational systems.
American Psychological Association (1981).
Specialty guidelines for the delivery of services by school psychologists.
Washington, DC.: Author.
Bardon, J. I. (1990). Forward. In T. B. Gutkin & C. R. Reynolds, The
handbook of school psychology (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Wiley.
French, J. L. (1990). History of school psychology. In T. B. Gutkin & C.
R. Reynolds, The handbook of school psychology (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Wiley.