Growing up is not easy. All children and adolescents face problems from time to time. They may have fears about starting school, manage their time poorly, fall behind in schoolwork, or consider dropping out of school. They may be upset about family events such as divorce or death, experience anxiety or depression, think about suicide, experiment with drugs or alcohol, or worry about their sexuality. School psychologists are there to help parents, educators, and community members understand and address these concerns. School psychologists are well prepared to do this because they: understand how schools work and how children learn, provide easily accessible and cost-effective mental health services to children, and promote positive mental health and a safe and effective learning environment.
School psychologists have specialized training in both psychology and education. They use their training and skills to team with educators, parents, and other mental health professionals to ensure that every child learns in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment. School psychologists understand school systems, effective teaching, and successful learning. Today’s children face more challenges than ever before. School psychologists can provide solutions for tomorrow’s problems through thoughtful and positive actions today.
The training requirements to become a school psychologist are a minimum of 60 graduate semester hours, completed across two years of coursework, and a yearlong internship. This training emphasizes preparation in mental health, child development, school organization, learning, behavior, and motivation. To work as a school psychologist, one must be certified and/or licensed by the state in which services are provided. A school psychologist also may be certified by the National School Psychology Certification Board (NSPCB) and become a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP).
While an undergraduate degree in psychology is not necessary for graduate study in school psychology, most graduate programs recommend individuals have at least fifteen hours of psychology coursework. Classes that are often recommended are child psychology, adolescent psychology, exceptional child, psychology of abnormal behavior, social psychology, statistics, learning, cognitive psychology, and educational psychology.