In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section School Psychology

  • Introduction
  • Definition
  • Handbooks
  • Encyclopedias
  • Other Literature
  • Conferences
  • Professional Organizations in Psychology
  • Professional Organizations for School Psychologists
  • Newsletters
  • Journals
  • Credentials for Practice
  • Codes of Ethics

Psychology School Psychology
Frank C. Worrell
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 July 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0132


School psychology is one of four specialties of professional psychology—alongside clinical psychology, counseling psychology, and industrial/organizational psychology—recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA). School psychology is both a general and a health service provider specialty, and school psychologists work with children, adolescents, families, and learners of all ages. They are also trained to work with the school as a system. Although the majority of school psychologists work as practitioners in public and private school settings or as trainers and practitioners in colleges and universities, some school psychologists work as (1) licensed psychologists in private practice, (2) administrators in schools, districts, and state departments of education, and (3) practitioners in hospitals, medical settings, and forensic settings. Although school psychology is differentiated from educational psychology in the United States, where the latter is a research field, in many parts of the world, individuals who are trained to engage in clinical practice in schools are called “educational psychologists” (e.g., New Zealand, United Kingdom).


School psychology differs from other professional psychology specialties in several ways (see Archival Definition of the Specialty of School Psychology). First, school psychologists must be able to conduct psychoeducational as well as psychological assessments and must be trained in assessing and intervening with academic problems. Second, given the emphasis on learning, they must be familiar with the federal systems of special-education classification (the most recent revision was the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004), as well as the more general diagnostic-classification systems such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders and the International Classification of Disorders. Third, they must be trained to work with individuals, groups, and systems, with a special emphasis on schools and other learning environments. Finally, unlike other health service psychologists who are governed by state boards of psychology, at least in the United States, school psychologists in most states also must be credentialed by the state departments of education to practice in the schools.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.