A school psychologist’s job is dual-fold: he/she supports students’ ability to learn as well as the teachers’ ability to teach. They use their expertise in mental health to help young students succeed in all aspects of life.
The best school psychologists usually partner with families, teachers, school administrators and so forth, in order to help create an environment that allows students to polish their strengths and overcome their weaknesses for academic and overall success.
And a school psychologist’s job is not limited to the school environment. They facilitate individual, parent-teacher, parent-parent and even student-parent communication to help ensure everyone is on the same page regarding educational issues and even personal ones. They ensure parents and even teachers understand the resources required for children with special needs or abilities. When children are facing personal problems at home – parents are getting divorced, there is a new baby in the house, someone close to the child has passed away – it is often school psychologists who bring the child’s disturbed behaviour (withdrawal, aggression, lack of attention to studies and so forth) to the parents’ attention.
Often parents are too involved in their own problems to see the impact on their children’s life and this is where school psychologists can step in to help the student (and parents if needed), get through a difficult phase.
Sensitive issues like child sexual abuse and even bullying are often best handled by school counsellors and psychologists since they have the information and the ‘right words’ to break down the issue and explain it to students at the level they can understand. Parents are often oblivious to the seriousness and stark realities of such issues and don’t encourage their children to come to them for help. Sessions with parents regarding such issues can also help them improve communication with their children regarding these issues.
I know of a number of schools in Karachi that held parent and student sessions with renowned psychologists after the incident of seven-year-old Zainab’s brutal rape and murder in Kasur. Such sessions help open lines of communication in families and promotes the disbursement of important information.
However, it is a well-known fact that most schools in Pakistan DO NOT have counsellors and child psychologists on board. Even in 2018, schools are considered academic centres with little to no emphasis on a child’s wholesome development and well-being. And if you think about it, even academic progress is linked directly to a child’s mental, physical and emotional well-being; thus, making a school psychologist an even more integral part of a school’s administration.
I, for one, did not have proper school counsellors and psychologists to guide me during my O and A-Levels and I believe this had a major impact on my mental health, thus, hindering my academic success. If I had proper guidance in this period of my life, I truly believe I would have been able to reach my full potential. Like many students around me, I felt rather lost and distressed, especially, during my A-Levels.
A-Levels and even earlier school years can be a very trying stage and I bet many students will tell you the same thing. Some are unable to deal with academic stress while others are faced with personal problems at home; some students are subjected to sexual abuse (at home, school or anywhere else while others are targeted by bullies. And these are only some of the problems that students face and they CAN be sorted out by a good school psychologist.
Considering the exorbitant amount of fee charged by private schools these days and the increasing pressure on students, I really don’t think asking for expert counsellors and child psychologists on the school panel, is an unjust demand.
I am sure, if schools were to provide students with good counselling, they would see students achieve far more success – academically and emotionally.
An average nineteen-year-old who is an intersectional pro-LGBTQ and feminist with a passion for writing, reading and music. She is currently on a one-year gap, set to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology.