School psychologists are a fundamental figure for both students and their families. They are responsible for socially and emotionally supporting and monitoring students, especially in difficult times such as the changes associated with growing up or during specific crises that some students may suffer (divorce of their parents, death of a relative or bullying, for example).
The involvement and work of psychologists is totally personalised and adapted to each student. This work must be coordinated with both the family and the tutor to correctly assess the situation and take the appropriate measures.
In addition, school psychologists are in charge of leading diversity support programmes in schools, analysing the academic needs of each student and offering them the resources they need to develop to their full potential. Prevention and early detection are fundamental aspects to correctly guide the teaching-learning process.
The relationship between school psychologists and teachers must also be fluid and constant, not only to ensure students’ well-being, but also for their own sake as individuals and professionals. Psychologists can give them tools to help increase their awareness of their personal resources in the educational relationship and build links of safety and trust with students, improving their conflict resolution skills, classroom management and understanding of the characteristics of each and every student.
School psychologists can also be of great help in supporting and accompanying teachers in the stressful situations they often experience as part of their work.
One of the most important functions of school psychologists is organise and manage the Families’ School. In this space, families share experiences, get to know each other, take part in workshops and receive highly valuable training with regard to the upbringing and education of their children. Families really appreciate these meetings as they help them understand the different stages of their children’s development, establish limits, communicate with them assertively and, in short, understand them a bit better.
Furthermore, school psychologists have a fundamental role in developing guidance and support programmes that encourage the skills young people need to make choices about their professional future. To do so, school psychologists offer personal guidance adapted to students’ needs that helps them make decisions, getting families actively involved and giving them a better idea of the world of work through a variety of experiences: internships in companies, events with former students and professionals that help them find out which skills and abilities are most valued in different professional environments, university fairs, etc.
Values and emotional and social development
In some centres, school psychologists also help create the Values and Social and Emotional Development Programme. This programme is adapted to different ages and works on the following areas through classroom activities, workshops and talks:
- Self-confidence and personal development. How to increase your understanding of others, how to recognise and express your own emotions.
- Self-control. Conscious and responsible decision-making and emotional management techniques.
- Healthy habits
- Social skills. Effective conflict resolution tools, ability to interact, assertiveness, self-affirmation, etc.
For example, some techniques that help school psychologists reach these goals are programmes, talks and workshops on:
- Prevention of drug addiction
- Sexuality education
- Gender equality and non-violence
- Social media: responsible usage
- Bullying: preventing, detecting, and stopping cases
The KiVa programme
Last but not least is the great work of school psychologists to prevent and resolve cases of bullying. Many centres have a successful KiVa programme, which is mainly focused on raising awareness among children who witness cases of bullying. The aim is to ensure that these children are not indifferent to bullying, reject it and show their support for the victim.
This systematic work to recognise emotions and develop emotional intelligence involves interiorising values related to coexistence and interpersonal relationships that strengthen the Values and Social and Emotional Development Programme, with the aim of creating respectful, empathetic, caring and committed individuals in a safe environment, as the school space should always be.