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doctoral studies - Helping Children Learn

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Previous Entry doctoral studies Mar. 7th, 2008 @ 11:13 am Next Entry
Hi everyone,

I am currently a student working towards my master's degree in rehabilitation counseling, and I have been interested in school psych for sometime now.

I would like to know more in general regarding the nature of school
psychology: how exactly is this subfield distinct from other related
fields, such as developmental and educational psychology? Will a
school psychologist be able to work with similar populations and
encounter similar mental health issues as a counseling or clinical
psychologist? I still have a hard time keeping these sub-disciplines of psychology clearly differentiated!

also if I wanted to pursue my doctorate eventually in this field, would I still be able to, given that I would have earned my master's degree in rehabilitation counseling prior to applying?

thanks guys, look forward to hearing from you :)
(x-posted to psychology/psyc communities)
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Date:March 7th, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
I can only tell you how it is in Iowa, but here school psychology is very much school based. Very few people get doctorates and open up private practice b/c families get services from school psychs free of charge through the school system and don't then want to pay to see a private person.To practice in schools here (and in most states) you only need an EdS degree. As a school psych i encounter a variety of issues day to day, but all school based. Mental health issues that do not directly impact educational learning are not things I deal with. We refer parents to outside mental health counselors for those things. No matter what state you practice in a school psych will do lots of academic assessments and work largely with students who have various learning disabilities...some behavior disabilities such as ADHD, etc. If you are more interested in mental health (depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. etc.) and want to work with those issues day to day directly then you probably wouldn't like school psychology in my opinion. It's a great field, but very different from other psychology disciplines.
Date:March 8th, 2008 01:51 am (UTC)
no that's great: i am very interested in anything impacting the context of children within the education system, and behaviour disabilities as well as autism (would a school psychologist deal with this?) are very interesting to me. tell me more please :)
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Date:March 9th, 2008 07:11 pm (UTC)
Well, there are plenty of students on the spectrum who are in my schools. Usually I don't work with these students one-on-one except very occasionally. School psychologists in Iowa at least tend to work a lot with teachers...so I would be more likely to consult with a teacher and help them accommodate a student with Autism in their classroom. Usually our occupational therapists do more of the one-on-one stuff with these kids doing sensory diets, etc.

Overall I'd say 75% of my time is consulting with teachers, providing inservices to schools, doing paperwork, etc...and only 25% of my time is actually working directly with students. It probably varies school to school and state to state...but in general school psychs don't work hands on with kids anywhere near as much as say school counselors, etc. I think it's an interesting job though b/c you do get to do a variety of things every day and no two days look alike. However, if you are someone who wants to spend a majority of the time working directly with students then school psychology probably isn't a good fit....school counseling/speech pathology/etc. all work with students a lot more often. Hope this helps!
Date:March 13th, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
oh really, see I would think you would be able to work with kids if you wanted..I was reading about the profession and since they are so multifaceted (They have to be, i assume) in their skills and knowledge, inevitably they would be given the opportunity to counsel a child: not necessarily regarding mental health issues, but along the lines of autism, learning disabilities, developmental disabilities..that's what i'm mainly aspiring to do. i would like to do research in, and clinical work with, children who are developmentally disabled; specifically autistic children and children who are deaf-blind.

school psychology also struck me as a field that can come in handy if mental health issues were to occur. because you work at a school. there is not a stigma of 'oh i have to take my child to the psychologist' on behalf of the parents. also many families who cannot afford mental health services, can obtain it for free if they consult with a school psychologist, i imagine (i think...sorry, you'll have to correct me if any of this is wrong!) it's just what i think :) i do not mind consulting with teachers/parents. indeed i like the 'team effort' embedded in the philosophy of school psych. and i would like to pursue the doctorate since i really am interested in research, which is mainly why i ruled out the counseling/pathology routes. let me know your thoughts please, sorry for the super long comment!
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Date:March 13th, 2008 06:31 pm (UTC)
Well, it may vary some from state to state. But the fact that you work within the school system as a school psych means you are governed by the higher ups that be as to what exactly you can do. Like in Iowa where I work, I am employed by the state and am then assigned to a school district that I work in. The state agency I work for tells me that my "job" is to facilitate the child find process and help schools do problem solving, identify kids for special education, etc. Now if I am really interested in autism I could theoretically volunteer to work with an autisitc child if I have free time left after doing my "job"...which never happens haha. Plus, there are legal issues to consider too...I can't go around counseling kids as though I am a mental health counselor b/c that is not what I'm technically licensed to do. Lawsuits could ensue, etc.

The frustrating part at times with school psychology is that yes, you are correct that we are trained for a very multifaceted job and I have training in many things that I don't actually do day to day. In many states school psychs still spend most of their time testing and placing student in special education. Iowa is great in that we have evolved from that an I do a lot more consulting with parents and teachers. However, I would venture to guess that you would have a very hard time finding a job where you get to deal much with mental health issues--I know I am told "refer families to mental health professionals"... In Iowa there are many mental health places families can go for no cost or the school pays.

I would really investigate how things work in your particular area though. Like I said, everywhere is a little different. I know that the state agency I work for divides things up so that I focus on academic difficulties primarily. The school social worker deals with behavior. Mental health concerns are refered to outside services.

Hope this helps some.
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