Psychopharmacology: Considerations for School-Based Practicum Students

By Shahidullah, Jeffrey D. | National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, June 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Psychopharmacology: Considerations for School-Based Practicum Students

Shahidullah, Jeffrey D., National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

With roles in assessment, intervention, counseling, and consultation, the responsibilities of school psychologists are wide-ranging. The requirement to become proficient in this broad range of skills can be overwhelming for school psychology graduate students. Fortunately, graduate training in school psychology requires practicum experiences that allow students to gain exposure to school settings and learn from licensed or credentialed professionals. Despite working under the supervision of experienced school psychologists, school psychology graduate students are still likely to encounter challenging situations.

One role in particular that may seem daunting is working with children who are prescribed with and taking psychotropic medications. Given the increased prevalence of school-age children prescribed psychotropic medications (DuPaul & Carlson, 2005) , ideally, practicum students will be prepared to work effectively with children taking medication, along with their families, teachers, and other school staff. This article (a) examines situations involvingmedication-relatedissues that graduate students may encounter and be expected to handle on any school-based practicum experience, (b) offers considerations for howpracticum students should approach these roles, and (c) provides practical tips for practicum students to ensure they can work competently within these situations.


The school-based practicum experience is meant to offer school psychology graduate students an awareness of the day-to-day duties of a school psychologist in the context of working with actual clients (Fagan & Wise, 2007). Typically, practicum students are assigned assessment, intervention, counseling, and consultation cases under the supervision of a school psychologist. In these roles, it is important for practicum students and their field supervisors to find out if a child is medicated, because this determination may affect how school psychological duties are carried out. Practicum students should familiarize themselves with district-specific guidelines regarding the roles they undertake and how they determine whether a child is medicated, as parents maybe under no obligation to inform the school if their child is prescribed and taking psychotropic medication.

Ultimately, taking on psychopharmacological roles in school settings must be limited to those who have received proper training and experience, as dictated by ethical and professional guidelines (NASP, 2010). It is not expected that school psychologists have the training required to play an active role in psychopharmacological treatment decision-making. However, they will likely have the training to communicate effectively with andbe an information resource for families and school staff regarding medication issues. Likewise, this is an important objective for practicum students.

Conceivably, practicum students would be able to gain a basic understanding of the most commonly prescribed pediatric medications, in addition to their uses and sideeffects. Practicum students may also be expected to know how to properly navigate and examine school, medical, and other health records to determine a child's medication history. Having knowledge of both current and past medications a child has been prescribed may provide vital information needed for intervention. Additionally, it is important for practicum students to be able to assist in collecting classroom observations and other data necessary for a possible family-initiated physician referral.

Most school psychology students have training in consultation and counseling based on evidence-based methods. Both are vital competencies in working with children to help them manage social, emotional, andbehavioral struggles and with families and school staff to help them work effectively with a child who is taking medication. It maybe necessary for practicum students to work with teachers and explain how a psychopharmacological intervention may affect a child academically, emotionally, and/ or behaviorally in the classroom.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Psychopharmacology: Considerations for School-Based Practicum Students


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?