Having a psychologist on board is a common phenomenon in many schools across the country. While some may see it as an unnecessary addition, the truth is that having a psychologist right on the school's premises reinforces not only the administration, but also the students to a great extent, when taken in the right spirit.
There are bound to be students who consider visiting the school psychologist a blow to their pride and dignity. But that does not change the fact that there are many other students who benefit because of one who helps them cope with school life which can, let's face it, be quite an unpleasant experience for some children. So, what does he do? Let's find out.
Job Profile of a School Psychologist
There often come times when students find it difficult to discuss certain matters with their parents. As the teenage years set in, it is natural for students to feel like they are unable to relate to their parents. There are some matters like worries about sexuality, peer pressure, etc. that they may find difficult to discuss even with their peers.
This is when a school psychologist comes into the picture to help the students deal with matters that stress them out. They do this with the collaboration of the school administration, and sometimes, even the students' parents.
One of the most important duties assigned to a school psychologist is to evaluate, assess and appraise students. This evaluation can be done in many forms and can pertain to various areas within the school curriculum or even otherwise.
He makes an effort to test and evaluate the students regarding their emotional quotient by checking how a particular student perceives and deals with a given situation.
He also assesses the learning abilities or disabilities in students and bring it to the notice of the parents and teachers. They check their social behavior, level of concentration and comprehension, communication skills, and even their logic and reasoning abilities to see if they are lacking in any of the areas.
After an assessment of the student he delicately analyzes all the observations that he has made about the student. He goes through all the details given about the student, his family, his medical history and things like these, looking for resources to understand the behavior and its causes.
Once he has a thorough knowledge of the student and his or her condition or problem, he assists him or her to overcome the shortcomings that the student faces.
If it is a purely psychological problem, then he can make the student open up to him and help him or her. If it is a cognitive or developmental problem, he can recommend another trained professional, in addition to himself for assistance to the student.
Children and young adults come from various backgrounds and family structures. Each child and each family has a different story and a different set of problems.
When a child's academic performance is affected due to some reason, the school psychologist intervenes and attempts to find out the reason for the change in performance. By talking to and observing the student, he attempts to discover what the problem is and how it can be solved.
Some of the most common reasons for such a drastic change in the student's behavior and academic performance could be parents' divorce, death, physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug abuse, alcoholism, smoking, etc. The psychologist attempts to find the root cause and also the solution to such problems.
In addition to pro-actively intervening and making sure that the students are psychologically sound, a school psychologist is also available for counseling to the student. Counseling is an immensely broad term.
Students can ask for help regarding academic problems that they may have. They could also approach the psychologist for some guidance regarding their career and its direction.
Another aspect of counseling, and probably the less popular one, is an actual psychological problem. Though children are not outright about their emotional problems, they do seek help from psychologists to simply listen to them, if not take advice from them.
For students coping with a loss or emotional tragedy of any sort, a psychologist counsels and helps to maintain a positive outlook towards life. He also advises students on issue like how to handle pressure situations, academic stress, peer pressure, extreme anger, frustration, etc.
In order to become a school psychologist, a person must have a degree in psychology and education, and also a valid license to practice from the state that he intends to work in.
Becoming one is not an easy job since handling matters of children, adolescents and young adults can be very delicate. It is a noble profession that comes with a 'Fragile: Handle with Care' tag nonetheless.