ERIC Identifier: ED390016
Publication Date: 1995-08-00
Author: Talley, Ronda C. - Short, Rick Jay
Clearinghouse on Counseling and Student Services Greensboro NC., American
Psychological Association Washington DC.
Creating a New Vision of School Psychology: Emerging Models of
Psychological Practice in Schools. Digest.
Social reforms in American education are setting the stage for a paradigm
shift in the delivery of psychological services in our nation's schools (Short
& Talley, in press-a, in press-b; Talley & Short, in press). The
convergence of education and health care reform, along with movement in the
human services arena toward service integration models, provides an
unprecedented opportunity to redefine psychological services in schools for the
next century (Talley & Short, 1994a). School psychological services have
historically been linked to changes in special education legislation; however,
the emphasis on educational achievement and whole-child development currently
driving social reforms in education and health care offers optimism for role
expansion and enhancement for psychologists who engage in school practice. In
addition, an increasingly permeable boundary between schools and communities
suggests that traditional barriers are being torn down so as to marshal all
available resources in addressing the critical needs of America's children,
SOCIAL REFORMS AND THE FUTURE OF SCHOOL PRACTICE
has shown that both education and health care services for children are often
delivered in a fragmented, uncoordinated fashion (American Academy of
Pediatrics, 1993, 1994; Blank & Hoffman, 1994; Dryfoos, 1994; Wang, Haertel,
& Walberg, in press). However, most educators stress the need for integrated
services as they acknowledge research that shows a vital link between good
health and the ability to learn (McElhaney, Russell, & Barton, 1993;
National Health/Education Consortium, 1990a, 1990b). School staff are striving
to integrate the social reform movements of education and health care into the
everyday patterns of schooling (Zedosky, 1995).
Education reform, health care reform, and the process of services integration
are three social reforms that are simultaneously shaking the foundation of
American education. With dramatic changes produced by shifting social, cultural,
and economic patterns, schools are seeking new ways to address student needs. As
a scientific discipline, it is possible for psychology to stand at the nexus of
these reform movements. Psychologists' knowledge in child development,
behavioral health, services integration, knowledge acquisition, program
evaluation, systems research, and reframing schools (Talley & Short, 1995),
provides the necessary information and tools to guide schools through their
THE TRADITIONAL RELATIONSHIP OF THE SCHOOLS TO PSYCHOLOGICAL
Historically, psychology has played a significant role in schools
and schooling. For over a century, psychology has served as the foundation of
education theory and practice, and psychologists have conducted much of their
research and many of their interventions in public schools (Fagan, 1992). Early
school learning and diagnostic clinics were organized, staffed, and administered
by psychologists (Fagan & Wise, 1994). In these functions, psychologists
typically worked as relatively autonomous professionals whose major role and
identity were outside of schools' organizational structure.
Since the passage of federal legislation for handicapped students in 1975,
psychology's formal role in the schools has been both more visible and often
more limited. By law, all schools were mandated to provide school psychological
services. Accordingly, most school systems in the United States have worked to
employ school psychologists. Other types of psychologists also work with or in
the schools as researchers, evaluators, and therapists; however, state and
federal special education legislation specifically requires the provision of
school psychological services. As the specialists credentialed to provide
psychological services in the schools, school psychologists have flourished in
numbers and influence over the last twenty years. However, the services that
these psychologists provide typically have centered around psychoeducational
assessment, often to the exclusion of other services for which they may have
been prepared to deliver.
SERVICE DELIVERY MODELS
From our work, we have identified
four models of service delivery for education and health initiatives. While
submodels have been discussed by others, we believe that the four basic models
noted below serve as a useful framework for viewing the delivery of
psychological services in schools.
"School-based Services." School-based services are typically provided on
school grounds, by school district employees, and are paid for by school funds
(local, state, and federal dollars) (Peak & Hauser, 1994). This model
represents traditional service delivery. A familiar version of this would be the
structure of a typical school psychological services program within a district;
an emerging example would be the Family Resource and Youth Service Centers
established as a part of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (Roth &
Constantine, 1995; Shearer & Holschneider, 1995).
"School-linked Services." School-linked services are provided on or near
school grounds by staff who are not employed by the district and who are paid
with non-school funds. Examples of this model are school health clinics such as
those established by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Schools of the
Future model in Texas, and the California Healthy Start program.
"Community-linked Services." The third model is one rarely discussed in the
literature: community-linked services. Services that connect schools and
communities in this fashion employ school personnel who are paid with school
district funds to deliver services within the community. Examples of this are
job placement programs where teachers and students work at business locations to
task analyze jobs and coach students for optimal performance, as well as many
special education placement programs, such as day-treatment programs that are
housed in hospitals.
"Community-based Services." Community-based services are community funded
(Jason, 1982). They employ staff who report to community entities, who are paid
with non-school dollars, and who work at settings other than the schools.
Traditional community mental health models fit this paradigm.
"Summary of Service Models." While school-based and community-based models
are the traditional delivery systems of psychological services, we believe that
emerging school-linked and community-linked models offer expanded practice
opportunities. With schools removing boundaries that historically have separated
them from the community, and as community providers learn the culture,
structure, and needs of schools, openings will increase for collaborative,
comprehensive services that are delivered based on the needs of the individual
and the systems in which that individual functions. With schools looking to
address both education and health care reform mandates, psychologists who are
open to rethinking service delivery to children and youth will be presented with
new challenges and options.
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL PRACTICE IN
To ensure the relevance of psychology in the current school social
reform climate, psychologists may need to consider making several major
adaptations (Gutkin, in press; Talley & Short, 1994a). As we have written
elsewhere, (Short & Talley, in press-a, in press-b), these adaptations
address issues of practice setting, services, credentialling, education, which
includes training and continuing professional development, and school structure,
such as employer, supervision, and financing considerations.
"Practice Setting." The most obvious of these adjustments is "practice
setting." School components of recent social reform initiatives identify the
complexity of children's problems from a holistic perspective. Treating the
whole child requires expanding the service delivery field to include all
settings in which the child develops and operates. A psychologist providing such
services may need to have a job role that spans settings as he or she negotiates
and crosses boundaries.
"Services." The second of these changes is the "nature of practice." Although
specific skills and responsibilities may vary widely among school-based and
school-related psychologist practitioners, most psychologists are involved in
assessing and remediating educational, emotional, and behavioral problems. Such
activities typically target individuals or small groups. Psychologists in public
health care, as well as those implementing some areas of education reform, will
be required, instead, to consider populations and prevention. Services to
individuals and small groups will yield to efforts targeting broad categories of
people who are at risk of exhibiting problems; further, these problems will be
defined as systems, social, and public health problems (e.g., violence,
substance abuse) rather than as educational and intrapersonal problems.
"Credentialling." Credentialling for service provision may be an important
change required by school social reforms. Although, school psychologists
currently must be certified by state departments of education in order to
practice in the schools, most often these professionals are not required to be
licensed by state psychology licensing boards "for school practice." Only the
education credential is needed for school psychologists to practice within the
schools, whereas delivery of services outside the schools requires state
licensure (although not necessarily in psychology). Such a requirement for state
licensure would almost surely disenfranchise the majority of school
psychologists in the schools from engaging fully in health service provision,
particularly for activities that generate outside reimbursement. Conversely,
psychologists licensed to provide services outside of schools typically cannot
be employed as school psychologists without credentialling as a school
At best, credentialling might bifurcate school-related psychological services
to children in general, and school psychology in particular: practitioners
credentialed only as school psychologists would be eligible to provide
traditional, primarily diagnostic and gate-keeping functions, but not
comprehensive health and education services. Practitioners licensed only as
psychologists would be able to furnish comprehensive health-related and
education services, but could not be employed as school psychologists. Neither
group would be able to provide both school-based and community-based services to
children and families.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING/CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL
To accomplish many of these adaptations, fundamental changes in
the education and training of psychologists may be required (Lehman, 1995).
Schools that embrace new comprehensive models of school-related social reform
will need psychologists with a wide array of skills -- skills which may diverge
from traditional child practitioner training. For example, education and
training may need to include changes in several areas, including assessment,
interventions, and research. In every case, training must include didactic and
experiential experiences in interdisciplinary, interprofessional, and
"Identity." The possibility of changes in psychologists' training raises a
related question about the "identity" of psychological service providers within
the context of school-related social reforms (Bardon, 1994; "Definition of the
Specialty of School Psychology, draft," 1994). Schools obviously are the primary
setting for school health initiatives, but education and health problems and
their solutions are now conceptualized more broadly as community issues. What is
needed are psychologist practitioners who are identified with fluid care across
school settings and other community settings in the service of children and
families. Psychology for children and families may need to reframe itself in
broader terms while maintaining its ties with schools and education to include
school-based, school-linked, community-linked, and community-based identities.
One promising model for such an identity is public health psychology (Tanabe,
1982; Stokols, 1992), which incorporates psychology's role in prevention and
community health initiatives (Talley, Short, & Kolbe, 1995).
SCHOOL STRUCTURE: ISSUES OF EMPLOYER, SUPERVISION, AND
In reformed schools, a core of school psychological service
providers will be needed to anchor psychological service delivery within the
system and to serve in leadership and coordinating roles. However, future
practice models may include psychologists of varying specialties as members of
the core. In addition, some psychologists may serve as "adjunct" team members
providing specialized skills in specific areas, much as adjunct professors do at
the university level. For example, the Memphis City Schools Mental Health Center
employs school, counseling, and clinical psychologists as Ph.D.-level staff
serving in supervisory roles. Other models of the future may include sports
psychologists working in schools with athletes and athletic teams, educational
psychologists consulting on curricula, health psychologists collaborating with
the school district's health team, and community psychologists advising on
broad-based community prevention and early intervention strategies, just to name
a few of the myriad possibilities. Issues to be resolved include the employment
arrangement (employee-employer or consulting, full-time or part-time),
appropriate administrative and clinical supervision, and reimbursement
The confluence of education reform and health care
reform, combined with the services integration movement, offers promise for our
nation's schools. It is vital that psychologists and the rich scientific
knowledge base of psychology be intimately involved in these changes. New models
of service delivery will need to build on existing models, creating new
structures to address the complex needs of children and youth. Psychology's
challenge will be to help develop, implement, and evaluate these emerging
models, and to ensure that all students have access to psychological services in
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