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School Psychology Services
In 1979, as Cherokee Health Systems worked to provide community-based services and prevention services, a part time School Psychologist was added to the staff. Since that time, the services and practitioners have grown into a department that provides school psychology services to over seven school systems and multiple Head Start centers across 23 counties in East Tennessee. Services are provided annually, both directly and indirectly, that touch or influence upwards of 18,000 school-aged children and upwards of 2,000 preschool-aged children.
Cherokee employs School Psychologists, Developmental Psychologists, Preschool Psychologist, school-based therapists, school-based mental health promotion (prevention) specialists, and pre-doctoral school psychology interns. Guided by efforts toward outreach and prevention, the school psychology staff practices under a mental health model, in which Cherokee has been highlighted in articles found in the Communique, the national trade paper of the National Association of School Psychologists
The School Psychology staff complete evaluations to investigate the factors contributing to children's, as well as adults', learning problems. These often result in the diagnosis of learning disabilities, developmental disorders, emotional problems, motivational problems, or situational stressors. Evaluations are followed by comprehensive recommendations to address all areas of educational and psychological need.
Mental Health Consultation
The School Psychology staff members work with parents and teachers to help in problem solving and to provide additional knowledge and skills to those who work with children with educational or behavioral problems.
Mental Health Intervention
School Psychologists and Clinical Therapists provide direct mental health services for individual children, groups of children, families, and educators.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention
School Psychologists and other mental health professionals team up to conduct cognitive-behavioral therapy and social skills training in combination with an adventure component. The goal is to minimize substance abuse risks.
School and developmental psychologists use discrete trials therapy, and other methods, to promote the development of autistic children.
School Psychology trainees use a combination of innovative methods to teach reading skills to struggling middle school children.
All of the services described above (assessment, consultation, teacher in-service, and parent training) are provided to preschool children in counties in East Tennessee. By targeting young children we are engaged in prevention and early intervention. Parent and teacher training and consultation are emphasized.
In our work with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, we conduct developmental evaluations, identify developmental needs, provide developmental enrichment to children, and train teachers and parents in methods for improving children's development.
School Psychology staff members frequently provide parent training that typically focuses on behavioral and developmental issues but also includes an emphasis on stress related problems and other factors that interfere in children's functioning.
The School Psychology staff provide in-service training for teachers on a variety of topics, ranging from learning disabilities and attention-deficit disorder to stress in children and child abuse. Positive behavior management, self-control, and responsibility are emphasized in workshops on dealing with misbehavior.
School Psychologists serve as consultants to education and community agency administrators. This consultation is focused on developing interventions to impact the mental health of children, families, schools, and the community. Such consultation is provided to Juvenile Justice Systems, the Tennessee Early Intervention System, and a variety of educational agencies and civic groups.
Under this program, mental health service providers are placed in two local elementary schools for 20 hours each week. These mental health consultants provide bi-weekly mental health lessons for all children, grades K through 3. The B.A.S.I.C. staff also provides small group counseling services, teacher training, parent training, and school enrichment interventions. A critical job role is coordinating services in mental health and education.
An outpatient service currently providing assessment and treatment for children experiencing problems learning. Problems commonly addressed include reading (e.g., dyslexia), math (e.g., dyscalculia), and writing skills. Associated behavioral difficulties may also be addressed.
School Psychologists and interns provide consultation in an integrated pediatric outpatient clinic regarding learning, developmental, and behavioral problems. They assist the physicians by providing appropriate parent education with common behavioral problems. The School Psychologists and interns also act as liaisons between the medical and school settings, and aid in coordination of care.
Training of Other Professionals
School Psychology staff members assist in providing in-service training for other professionals, including Clinical Psychology staff, juvenile court staff, and health professionals. In addition, the School Psychology staff often receives in-service training from these other professionals. The coordination of educational, mental health and physical health services is a high priority.