Tell us about your job. What does a typical day look like?
As a school psychologist, every day is unique, but we are always working to help students engage in their learning and be psychologically healthy. Throughout the day, we may provide direct support and counselling to students, conduct psychological assessments and undertake classroom observations. We also frequently consult with teachers, families and other relevant professionals for example Paediatricians and the Network Student Engagement Team (NSET)) to add to support strategies, reflect on school-wide practices and collaborate with community providers to coordinate needed services.
What’s the best part of your job?
The children! I really enjoy working with them and value how much strength it takes for them to share what may be challenging for them at a given time. It is incredibly rewarding when our actions can help students overcome or lessen the impact of some of these individual challenges.
What drew you to working as a school psychologist initially? What inspired you to become a school psychologist?
I enjoyed studying psychology when I was at school and this led to further study at university. I knew I wanted to work with children and when I learnt about the role of a school psychologist, it felt like a perfect fit. Schools are such dynamic places and being able to be onsite with the children you are working with gives you lots of opportunities to get to know them well. It feels good to know that children may be able to access psychological support at the school level when perhaps there are barriers that may have prevented them getting this support externally.
What motivates you in your career?
Like many, I hope that my actions can make some difference (even if only small) in the lives of others. I’m passionate about the area of psychological assessment and evidence-based intervention as I believe that early intervention can make school less stressful, more enjoyable, improve mental health and lead to more positive outcomes later in life.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I will always remember my mum telling me ‘treat others as you would like to be treated.’ In the field of psychology this is very relevant as we are often working with children and families during some very challenging times where judgement is not helpful. Learning that ‘most behaviour has a function’ was a powerful moment as this challenged me to think why people might behave the way that they do. If we know the function of behaviour, we can look at ways of possibly changing the behaviour and potentially our views of the individual student.
What is something about your work people may not realise?
A school psychologist not only provides support to students and their families across the field of mental health but may also be directly involved in a student’s learning. For example, we may be directly involved in assessment and intervention planning for students with reading difficulties.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt throughout your career?
The importance of staying positive and engaging in self-care. Self-care and the opportunity to debrief with a senior psychologist is so important for ourselves and critical to our ability to help others. I have been extremely fortunate to have some great supervisors and colleagues to learn from and debrief with.