I am entering my 6th year as a school psychologist. Prior to this, I worked for 10 years in mental health field with adults suffering from severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI). My career in mental health started in a residential program. After a few years of that, I went on to work, in various positions, in a psychiatric outreach program. I ended up in a supervisory position, which was one of the worst decisions of my life. I decided to change careers for three reasons: 1) a large number of the clients that I served in the outreach program had, at one point, been in special education; 2) if I wanted to advance any further in that career, I would have to be in a position that was completely removed from client contact; and 3) being on-call 24/7 was wearing thin, really thin.
So I went back to school. The two most common types of school psychologists that I have seen are those that have always been involved in psychology in their academic career and those that were classroom teachers and then went back to school to become school psychologists. I am definitely in the former category. My undergraduate degree is in psychology. My master's degree is in psychology. And I have what is know as an educational specialist certificate in school psychology. At the moment, there is no doctoral program in my future. Besides not having the time or energy to go into such a program, it really wouldn't do much for me that I'm not already doing. It would not greatly impact my salary; and I don't have the discipline to enter into private practice, although if I did I would probably only do psychological evaluations and not therapy. For me, being a school psychologist working in a school provides me with the right balance of autonomy and oversight. At least the district that I am in provides me with that balance.
I have worked in two districts since I have been a school psychologist. My first district was a vocational high school district. Working in a vocational high school is an interesting experience because it is a combination of working in an out of district placement and working in a public school. Vocational schools get to choose their students but are held to the same standards as every other public school.
My current district is a regular pre-K to 12 district. When I entered that district, I started in the 8th grade. Last school year, I moved up to the 9th grade. This year I am working in the upper elementary school.
So that is my basic CV without giving too much away. As I've said before and I'll say again here: my goal is to give a picture of the daily working life of a school psychologist. Due to confidentiality, I try to maintain my own anonymity as well as the anonymity of any of the students and families that I work with. This may lead to some frustration on the part of my self and anyone that may be reading this as I may not go deeply into the details of some situations and speak in generalities. I do try to voice my own thoughts on the situations that I find myself encountering. I also try to provide information on being a school psychologist in New Jersey, on the special education process in New Jersey, and on clinical situations. I also try not to talk about my coworkers. The good news is that I love working with the people that I work with so this makes it easy. The times that I may mention them will be when I think a situation that they have encountered may be interesting for this blog.
So what can people expect this year? Well, let's see, the two that come off the top of my head are:
- I've never been case manager for students in the 6th grade. So getting the lay of the land with this group will be interesting. Some folks say that with the lower grades, you end up working more with the parents and teachers than you do with the students. At this grade, I'll have to see where it leads because it is sort of a larval stage between child and teenager.
- I've never worked on a daily basis in the school that I am assigned. I've worked with some of the administration and teachers before when I've conducted risk assessments and psychological evaluations but working in the same place every day is a different thing.
If anyone that is reading this has any questions that they would like answered, please feel free to ask. Depending on the subject, I may not be able to answer it but I'll try to point you in the right direction.
Also, if you like my blog, please feel free to recommend it to others. I noticed that I picked up two more followers. Thank you for choosing to follow me, Dr. Beam and Denyse. And yes, I follow my own blog. It was the only way I could figure out how to leave comments on my own blog.
Only two more days to go until the fun starts.