As a fellow Psychologist, I wholeheartedly support Judy Hyde’s advice (Colliding in the Classroom) and applaud Lucinda Bertram’s inclusion of the views of a Psychologist. Psychologists can play an important role in the relationship between schools, children, and their parents. I must, however take issue with the inference that parents best seek out the support of a Clinical Psychologist. While all Psychologists receive the same basic training, Clinical Psychologists are trained within a medical model and specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. They usually work in hospitals, mental health services or in private practice. Educational and Developmental Psychologists work in educational settings and in private practice and specialise in learning problems (as their title suggests), behavioural difficulties and problems of transition (such as moving to prep or high school). An Educational and Developmental Psychologist is often known as school psychologist, guidance officer, or child and adolescent counsellor. Educational and Developmental Psychologists assess and provide support for learning difficulties and disabilities, developmental disorders (such as ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders), management of social-emotional and behavioural and relationship problems, and general emotional wellbeing. Within this mandate they often work with people who have a diagnosed mental illness. Indeed, all experienced Psychologists who are registered with Medicare should have a sound working knowledge of assessing and treating mental illness-regardless of their formal specialisation. Community Psychologists, Counselling Psychologists and Clinical Psychologists who have worked in schools are also well placed to provide support to families experiencing behavioural or social problems at school. There are many valuable Psychologists whose qualifications do not refer to an area of specialisation, yet after working in specific fields develop expert knowledge. Registration as a Psychologist, experience in working with children and schools, and word of mouth recommendation and are excellent qualifications. For more information about Educational and Developmental Psychologists and the other Psychologist specialisations, please visit the website of the Australian Psychological Society (www.psychology.org.au) and click on Community Information: Psychologist Specialist Areas.
Yael Clark, Psychologist