School Psychology in Mexico

By Westdal, June; Clinton, Marianne et al. | National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, November 2015 | Go to article overview

School Psychology in Mexico


Westdal, June, Clinton, Marianne, Snyder, Elizabeth, National Association of School Psychologists. Communique


For many school psychology graduate students, it is easy to overlook compelling opportunities when immersed in class work, practicum, research, and teaching responsibilities. However, when an opportunity arose to study abroad in Mexico, we jumped at the chance to learn more about school psychology on an international level. The trip was designed to enhance global perspectives of graduate students at Michigan State University (MSU) related to education, mental health, educational systems, and policy. Our trip provided learning opportunities through interactions with policy makers, researchers, students, professors, and teachers.

By the end of our time abroad, we developed a better understanding of the similarities and differences in the training and practice of school psychology in Mexico and the United States. Undertaking discussions of culture leads to a better understanding of the training, systems, and cultural factors that contribute to how school psychologists practice (Beach et al., 2005). The purpose of this article is to explore the role of school psychology in Mexico from the perspective of school psychology graduate students from both MSU and Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM).

RATIONALE

We believe that there are three main reasons why understanding international differences between practicing school psychologists is critical for the field. First, we believe that international conversation can provide researchers and practitioners across the globe with new insights into the field. In order for professionals from both countries to learn from one another, we found it was helpful to engage in dialogue wherein we shared our knowledge and experiences in exchange for the ideas shared by our hosts.

The second reason is the commitment we have to support international children attending school in the United States. There are currently more than 2 million immigrant school-age children in the United States (United States Census Bureau, 2011) who come from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. By understanding how school psychologists in other nations support students, we are likely to increase our ability to serve international students in this country. Furthermore, an additional 12 million students in the United States are children of immigrant parents (Mather, 2009). Although these students have not experienced school in their parents' native country, school personnel who understand school norms from the native country can improve parent outreach. For example, perhaps parents in the native country do not often talk with school psychologists because they consider the school personnel to be experts who do not need input from families. Knowing this, school psychologists can clarify school expectations with parents, instead of making assumptions about parents' levels of school involvement.

Third, we believe that an international understanding of school psychology can increase diversity within the field. NASP recognizes the lack of cultural and linguistic diversity within the field of school psychology and is committed to helping training programs resolve this issue through various recruitment efforts (NASP, 2009). It seems logical to us that in order to effectively recruit graduate students from diverse backgrounds, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of how the field functions within diverse cultures.

INCREASING GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES IN SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY

The majority of our trip was grounded in our relationship with students and faculty from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) school psychology program. During this time, we toured preschool, elementary school, and middle school practicum sites. Following the visits, we debriefed through discussion with the professors and students in the UNAM school psychology program. Discussion topics included assessment, consultation, interventions, and more. In the following section we will discuss the role of school psychology in Mexico, experiences of Mexican school psychology students, and factors that affect school psychology in Mexico. …

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