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Monday, April 27, 2009

Will the Real School Psychologist Please Stand Up?!?

Some people don't know the role of a school psychologist, and when they hear the term they automatically think of them as a typical "psychologist." It has been proposed by the APA to change the title of school psychologists in order to eliminate that confusion. As future school psychologists, what is your opinion on this topic? Do you feel that there should be a new title or term given for us or that it should be left alone? How do you feel this will impact our future careers?

The proposed changes would allow any licensed doctoral level psychologist to use the title “school psychologist” and work in public schools, even though they have no training in school psychology and are less qualified than we will be to perform school psychological services. How will this impact students? Will students receive competent care from unqualified doctoral level psychologists with no training in psycho educational evaluation and assessment? At a time when there is a shortage of school psychologists and an increased need for school psychological services, does it make sense for the APA to advocate these changes and limit current school psychologists from engaging in work they are qualified and trained to do?

Check out these links to find out more about the APA Model Act Revisions

This blog was created by Laura Martino and Susan Bartolozzi

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Change is Coming...

We are approaching a new wave in school psychology.

The change has been a long time coming! Decades of blind support for fashionable interventions and instructional techniques have utilized precious resources and failed to create any significant effects in our student's ultimate trajectories. Our goals for our schools, whether focused on academic growth or a decline in substance abuse, were often undefined and progress went unmeasured. Did we know whether these programs were effective?!

The answer is a resounding, "NO!"

There is a new movement. A movement encouraging us to bridge the gap between research and practice. Clearly the question becomes, "How?" What is your mission statement? In what aspect of your practice do you envision yourself making the strongest commitment to making empirically driven, data-based decisions?

This blog was created by Roxane Nassirpour and Tjasa Korda

Monday, April 13, 2009

Improving the Evidence-Based Practice Movement

We know that a problem solving approach is outcome-focused, data-driven, integrally linked to intervention, and context-specific.

Evidenced-Based Practice (EBP) as a problem solving approach “refers to a body of scientific knowledge, defined usually by reference to research methods or designs, about a range of service practices (e.g., referral, assessment, case management, therapies, or support services)”. It is directly related to applying data-orientated problem solving to students’ mental health and social-emotional needs. When deciding which type of EBP is appropriate in the school setting, we can take into consideration some of the most effective strategies:

· Parent Management Training (PMT)
· Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

(For additional information on PMT and CBT please see the link below:)
· Psychopharmacology (using psychostimulants/medication)

These are only three of many new approaches developing among contemporary literature. With all the different types of methods of intervention and prevention under the EBP umbrella, how do we decide which one will work best for us? Seeing that this method of practice is fairly new, how can we begin to shift the paradigm from traditional to an EBP approach? Do you agree that practicing school psychologists traditionally trained (i.e., relying on clinical judgment rather than the scientific method or the empirical literature) are the primary offenders of underidentification and misidentification of mental health problems in school settings?

This blog was created by Jamie Cowan and Tahina Reyes

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Suicide is one of the three leading causes of death among adolescents. It is estimated that in 2001 there were approximately 9.9 completed suicides per 100,000 adolescents in the 15-to24-year age group and 1.3 suicides per 100,000 children in the 10-to14-year age group (National Institute of Mental Health, 2004).

Suppose you had a 17 year old female student come to your office. She is terribly distraught that her boyfriend that she has been with for the past year has cheated on her and wants nothing to do with her. She can hardly keep her composure and keeps saying that she wants to die and she is going to kill herself. She tells you exactly how she will go about taking her own life. She states that she is going to take a bottle of aspirin and down it with a pint of vodka. How would you assess this situation? What do you think is the degree of lethality of this suicidal ideation? What would be your course of action?

This blog was created by Desiree Antas.

HELP...is anyone out there...

While teachers, parents and administrators commonly refer students to the school psychologist, many times, especially in high school some of these referrals are self-referrals. If a student is having issues and they decide to seek help, should we be held responsible to tell their parents? Currently there do not seem to be any case law decisions that address this specific question. In some states minors are given the right to access certain types of treatments without parental notice but usually only for conditions considered medical in nature like drug abuse or venereal disease.

Becky is a 16-year-old student at the local high school where you work. She asks to speak with you, the school psychologist, about some issues. You decide to sit down with Becky and have a pre-counseling screening session. In the session she tells you that she is having some issues at home and she wants to learn some methods on how to deal with them. She is not in any kind of harm but she needs someone to talk to about these issues. She asks that her parents not be notified because it might put extra strain on their relationship. You determine that Becky could probably benefit from spending some time talking with you, but you know contacting her parents will compromise that. You work in a district with unclear rules for this sort of issue. What are your ethical responsibilities to Becky? to her parents?

This blog was created by Jessica Sosnowski.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Moving Mountains...

Students in today’s schools, particularly middle and high schools, face an ever growing mountain of tough life situations and decisions to overcome. As future school psychologists we have to prepare ourselves to help these students cope with an array of problems that do not have easy solutions and that are often controversial topics when it comes to minors such as teen pregnancy, sexual activity and STDs, substance abuse, and violence of many different forms. Oftentimes students, parents, staff, and the community expect that we as school psychologists should be able to move this mountain of problems away from or off the student. While best treating the student a school psychologist must also keep in mind confidentiality policies, district policies, and state and federal regulations. There is a lot to consider when counseling students and these issues arise.
As school psychologists one of the most important things to be keep a watchful eye on are signs of child abuse or neglect, as it is our duty to report suspected cases that are made in good faith and the procedures made under state law for reporting are followed. We are fortunate that if the two previous criterion are followed than we are protected from civil or criminal actions for reporting a suspected case to the proper authorities.
Consider the following case:
John is a 6 year old boy in the middle of his second school year as a kindergarten student. At the beginning of last school year his mother left him and sister behind in care of their aunt who obtained legal guardianship. The aunt chose to have John repeat kindergarten due to poor academic progress. John’s teacher this year, Mrs. Smith, recommended John for the art therapy program in October to due his elaborate drawings and dictations of those drawings of various violent scenarios (shootings, bombs, fire etc), his continual thumb-sucking habit, and knowing his home life was not of optimal care. Over the course of the school year the art therapist, teacher, and school nurse communicate and document concerns of the child’s health and mental well-being such as coming to school un-bathed, dirty clothing, infections in his gums from lack of proper dental care, John complaining of “bugs” in his bed, and reports of not eating. Throughout the year the aunt has been notified of these situations as they came up, however, little if anything has been done on her part to help John. While academically he has progressed throughout the year, he is still just below grade level in areas such as reading and writing.

What procedures should be followed if during your first year as a school psychologist in an urban school district the above case was presented to you? What are the primary concerns? Are the teachers and other staff members fulfilling all of the duties they are obligated to and should to ensure proper care of the child?
As a future school psychologist do you feel ready to handle the various ethical and legal issues that may arise in various counseling situations?

This blog was created by Jamie Cowan.