School Psychology PhD
School Psychology PhD School Psychology PhD programs specialize in preparing graduates to work with students with behavioral problems in a school setting. Mostly, this applies to elementary school through high school students.
Getting a school psychology PhD certifies the graduate to do advanced assessment and treatments with children with behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and mental disorders stemming from trauma and other causes.
Children are exposed to a multitude of problems such as divorce, abuse, drugs, learning disabilities, trauma, death, and mental disorders to name a few. As such, it is vital to detect these problems early for children to have the best opportunity for treatment and suffer the least amount of effects. School Psychology PhD programs enable practitioners to focus on these specific problems and are trained in the latest treatment modalities. School Psychology PhD programs also focus on future research needs in the field to have better assessments to detect problems before they become entrenched.
Some of the specific mental disorders that professionals with a School Psychology PhD deal with are ADHD or ADD, attachment disorders, mental retardation, autism or Asperger's, reactive attachment, adjustment disorders, depression and anxiety, obsessive compulsive features, drug abuse and later dependence, conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder, impulse control problems, tic disorder or tourettes disorder, stuttering, motor skills disorders, dyslexia, and childhood schizophrenia (which is more rare).
School Psychology PhD Before Birth?
Mental retardation such as Down Syndrome is an example of a disorder that can be discovered even before the child is born. Mental retardation, like other disorders, has varying levels of severity. School Psychology PhD programs teach graduates how to assess these severities. Some of the assessments they are certified to use are Pervasive Developmental Disorder in Mental Retardation Scale [Second Revised Edition], Clinical Assessment of Behavior, Houston Test for Language Development, and the Laradon Articulation Scale, Revised. There are many other assessments that counselors with a School Psychology PhD can administer.
The above examples are of tests that can be given to children as young as 6 months old. Once a School Psychology PhD graduate has assessed the level of retardation in a child, a developmental plan can be created to that child's specific needs. A stereotype of Down syndrome children is that they cannot learn or accomplish much, however, this view is beginning to change. When assessed and treated early, these children can learn and accomplish much more than originally thought.
School Psychology PhD and Dealing with ADHD, Conduct Disorder, & other Disorders
Another common childhood disorder is ADHD or ADD. These disorders have overlapping symptoms with the biggest difference being whether a child has the added hyperactivity. The preferred treatment for these children has been some form of medication but there are additional treatment options with or without medication that individuals with a School Psychology PhD have found effective. For example, some ADHD children are able to learn particular focusing / breathing techniques that help them stay centered.
School Psychology PhD counselors assess these children and refer them for medication evaluation, if needed, as well as creating a classroom plan for behavioral aspects of their behavior. One common assessment School Psychology PhD counselors use is the Connor's Rating Scale, Revised or Connor's 3rd Edition.
Conduct Disorder or Oppositional Defiant Disorder are important disorders to identify early as they can become Anti-Social Personality Disorders later. Some assessments School Psychology PhD counselor's use for these disorders are Conduct Disorder Scale, Adolescent Psychopathology, Early Childhood Inventory-4, and the Millon Pre-Adolescent Clinical Inventory. Some of the tests used for ADHD can also be used to assess Conduct Disorders. It is thought that these behavioral disorders are learned. This is another reason why it is vital to detect these disorders early.
These disorders can alert a School Psychology PhD graduate that something may be awry in the child's home or environment. If caught early, the progression of this disorder can be arrested and reversed.
Another important aspect of School Psychology PhD education is assessing children for symptoms of abuse and or other trauma. If identified early, these children can be essentially "healed" and a myriad of other problems avoided. For example, a traumatized child may act out in ways similar to ADD or Conduct Disorder or appear to regress to the point of appearing to have some form of mental retardation. A School Psychology PhD counselor is trained to differentiate between symptoms of trauma and/or organic causes.
There are many more careers available (and maybe you even want to explore graduate psychology schools for a School Psychology MS) when you earn a School Psychology PhD. Go look around. Ask lots of questions and don't sell yourself short. You do not have to wait to work in the psychology field until you have education past a bachelors in psychology degree. This article is not meant to be exhaustive in the areas of childhood disorders and treatment options, however, if these are types of problems that you are interested in treating, you may want to look closer at a School Psychology PhD degree.