Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Shannon Suldo, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Linda Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Albert Duchnowski. Ph.D.

Keywords

school psychologist, psychotherapy, survey, training, barrier

Abstract

This study explored the current role of school psychologists in the provision of school-based mental health services, including factors that relate to their provision of such services, by surveying a national sample of practicing school psychologists. Despite an extensive knowledge base regarding which professional services school psychologists provide in general, few studies have focused exclusively on specific modalities of mental health services. Previous lines of research also have not fully identified why school psychologists do not spend as much of their professional time in the provision of mental health services as they would desire. Therefore, a central purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which specific factors are perceived as facilitating or prohibiting practitioners from providing psychotherapeutic interventions, including content/knowledge areas and training experiences that are tied to high perceptions of competence to provide mental health services in the schools.

Mail out survey methodology was utilized to allow for data collection from a large, national sample of school psychologists in a timely and cost efficient manner. In total, surveys were completed and returned by 226 out of a possible 600 respondents, representing a 37.7% response rate. School psychologists reported receiving referrals for a variety of student issues (although primarily externalizing student behaviors, academic problems, and interpersonal problems) and providing a wide array of mental health services (e.g., consultation, social-emotional-behavioral assessment, individual counseling). Factors identified as posing significant to moderate potential barriers included caseload constraints, role strain, school-level factors (e.g., inconsistent treatment), and systems-level factors (e.g., insufficient funds for services from district administration). The highest rated facilitators to school-based mental health service provision involved personal characteristics (e.g., personal desire to provide mental health services), having adequate training and confidence, and school-related factors (e.g., availability consult with other mental health professionals). Important training preparation included a variety of didactic content areas (e.g., social-emotional behavioral assessment, consultation with teachers and parents) and many of the applied graduate training activities and professional development activities included in the current survey. Implications for future research and practice are presented, specifically related to the training and professional development needs of school psychologists.

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