School psychologists play a significant role in identifying and helping children with learning disabilities, behavioral problems, autism, and other mental issues that affect a child’s performance in class. To effectively carry out their objectives, school psychologists must possess certain traits and skills. If you plan to enter this field of psychology, it is important to know these traits and the skills you need to succeed as a school psychologist.
- Have good listening skills
To be a school psychologist, you should possess good listening skills. Listening involves paying attention to verbal and non-verbal messages and understanding what the person is saying and why they are saying it. You must be a patient listener who can create an environment where children feel comfortable disclosing their problems or issues without feeling judged or criticized. The way you communicate with children also plays an integral role here. Many children won’t open up or speak about their problems unless you can say the right words to make them speak up.
- Acquire education in psychology
Becoming a school psychologist requires several levels of training and education. You must first complete a bachelor’s degree program where you take courses in psychology and special education. Aspiring school psychologists must then earn graduate degrees like master’s degrees and doctorate programs to specialize in different areas of psychology, such as counseling psychology. There are, in fact, many programs like Masters in Educational Psychology online that can help you complete your further education in the comfort of your home.
One thing that all school psychologists should do is continue their education by taking classes or attending workshops relevant to their work. This will help them stay up to date on new developments and emerging research in child development and psychology.
- Have stress tolerance skills
Becoming a school psychologist is not an easy task. You must be prepared to handle the mental stress associated with this profession. This is because you will be working with children suffering from mental illnesses, developmental disabilities, and other disorders. Therefore, you need to develop stress tolerance skills to cope with the emotional challenges you will face.
An essential step that you should take is to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest when evaluating yourself. If you are genuinely committed to becoming a school psychologist, do what is necessary to overcome your weaknesses. You can do this by reading books or taking classes related to school psychology. It is also important for you to seek guidance from experts who have gone through these phases before you. Learn from their experiences to avoid making the same mistakes they made.
- Have a good humor
Being a school psychologist can be challenging with the number of students each school counselor meets daily. But being a student psychologist does not have to be all doom and gloom. A good sense of humor is essential for school psychologists. They can use humor as a way to help students learn life lessons without them even realizing it. For example, they could tell jokes about topics like peer pressure or even academic dishonesty so that students will learn about these topics without feeling intimidated.
- Have a professional attitude
School psychologists need to maintain professionalism at all times. You need to be able to avoid your personal feelings and focus on the job at hand. Students will sometimes share personal information with you, and it is essential always to maintain your professional attitude. Although school psychologists mostly deal with behavioral issues, the scope of their work is not limited to that. They also work with children who have learning disabilities, gifted and talented students, and those who have communication issues. You will often meet new parents and children daily, making it necessary for you to be professional in all situations you encounter. This means showing up on time each day, dressing appropriately, and maintaining good personal hygiene. It also includes avoiding offensive language, avoiding inappropriate behavior, and taking any necessary initiative.
- Have an acceptance of diversity
The world is full of diverse people, and schools are no exception. You have to learn to appreciate diversity if you want to be a school psychologist. Schools are filled with children who come from different races, cultures, religions, and economic backgrounds. The more accepting you are of diversity, the more effective you will be at helping students cope with their differences. To increase your appreciation for diversity, you must spend time learning about different cultures. Read books and learn via the internet, so you know how various groups differ. Look for similarities between cultures as well as differences. As you do so, keep in mind that no culture is better or worse than any other; they all deserve respect.
A school psychologist has a demanding and complex job helping children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral problems. With the right attitude and skills, you can be great at helping kids learn and prosper in their academic and social journey.