A school psychologist is a specialist who has an understanding of child psychology and its influence on learning and behavior of young children and teenagers. Schools may engage psychologists to appraise students' academic abilities, intelligence, and personal development. Sometimes they are consulted for diagnosing learning disabilities. Psychologists could be involved in behavioral mediation or counseling a child who may be going through emotionally difficult situation. When dealing with behavioral or academic issues, psychologists often counsel students, as well their teachers and parents.
School psychologists work in various functional areas, one of which is assessment of students' academic capabilities, psychological development, and aptitude. Depending on the type of evaluation, psychologists may use different methods, which include standardized tests, personal interviews, or observation of a student's behavior. They may test students on diverse parameters that include intelligence, logic, language proficiency, problem solving skills, and social abilities. School psychologists may interpret the results in terms of student’s abilities as an individual, or relative to others in the age group.
A student who has trouble in certain areas of learning, or often has difficulty focusing and completing school assignments, may be referred to a school psychologist. If a learning or cognitive problem is diagnosed, the psychologist may recommend measures to help improve the student's development. Generally observations of the psychologist are taken into consideration when ascertaining whether a student needs a different or special method of instruction.
The school psychologist may be involved in handling issues related to student behavior in the classroom. The psychologist usually evaluates conduct of the student concerned and devises an approach to achieve behavioral improvement. The goal is to deter the student from behavior that could be self-detrimental or problematic to others in the class. Behavioral modification aims to assist the student in classroom interactions and promote academic performance. Besides monitoring the student's progress, school psychologists often suggest ways in which teachers and parents can work proactively with the student.
At times, a child's grades or school performance may suffer due to problems at home, a personal tragedy, or social and emotional challenges faced in the school. The school psychologist could assist the child in coping with the situation and making good progress in school. In some instances, the psychologist is called upon to counsel adolescents in dealing with issues such as addiction, harassment of any form, or typical problems encountered in the teenage years. The psychologist may advise the parents and teachers concerned with helping children through their tribulation and issues.
School psychologists often lend their expertise through training programs to update teachers on techniques that can enhance academic achievement. They may conduct workshops in areas such as early childhood development, or scientific teaching methods for varying learning styles of students with special needs or who are exceptionally gifted. School psychologists may be involved in reviewing educational programs implemented in the school and their outcome. They may work with school staff on initiatives to tackle problems such as bullying or alcohol or substance abuse among students.
Some school psychologists opt for private practice over being affiliated to a particular school system. Some may provide their services as consultants to educational institutions, hospitals, or mental health facilities. School psychologists may pursue innovative research on learning behavior and teaching methodology or allied areas in the field.