Key characteristics of school psychologists vary, but there are certainly some that must be present without question. When choosing to go into the educational spectrum of psychology, graduates must possess certain skills that will aid them in the years that they are in practice. Not only should they have a passion for helping others, a great deal of understanding for the human condition, and years of education under their belt, they should also possess each of the following traits that reflect the character of a true professional in their field.
1. The Willingness to Learn
School psychologists must always be willing to continue their education and approach problems with an open mind, according to the American Psychological Association. Maintaining an open mind is not only crucial to being a respected professional in their chosen field of educational therapy but it is also fundamental to any individual’s growth. Once anyone in a “mentor” or “leading” position believes they have nothing left to learn, then eventually what knowledge they do possess will eventually become out of date. Not only should a great school psychologist have the desire to learn from their practice, they should also be open to continuing their education through the occasional class in order to keep up to date on the latest changes in their field.
One of the most necessary characteristics of school psychologists has to be patience. The ability to keep a cool, calm mind ties into this as well. When working with individual patients, along with performing research in their chosen field, patience goes a long way to solving problems. Having a high level of tolerance and understanding is what makes for a winning combination in the field of psychology. Some issues that they will face in working out with their clients will take longer than just a few sittings. It’s not too uncommon for it to take years and years of working with the same person before breakthroughs in personal development might start to manifest.
3. Respect Towards Confidentiality
As a working psychologist who will be interacting face-to-face with students, it will be up to you to uphold the mandatory confidentiality agreement that is synonymous with the position. Being trustworthy with personal information is one of the most important characteristics of school psychologists. As a trusted professional, it is your responsibility to be able to discern between something that is learned as a possible danger to be avoided by confiding in the authorities and something that falls within that confidentiality agreement.
A strong sense of ethics is a much needed characteristic of a school psychologist. Without an ethical code to live and work by, the previously mentioned respect for confidentiality and otherwise may not be taken as seriously. Having a full awareness to the gravity with which your works and actions can impact the lives of your patients is absolutely imperative when working in a social field such as school psychology.
5. Strong Interpersonal Skills
Having strong interpersonal skills are necessary characteristics of school psychologists. By interpersonal skills, that means that you as a professional dealing hands-on in the field of human behavior must know how to interact well with a wide variety of people. You will be coming into contact with colleagues, patients, and relatives of patients on a daily basis and as such should know the proper etiquette in working within such highly socialized situations.
Related Resource: 5 Important School Administrator Jobs
As rapidly of a growing profession as psychology is, choosing to work within an educational field is an admirable decision for college graduates. When it comes to the characteristics of school psychologists these traits, along with many others, should be taken into consideration before moving forward.