DotCom Therapy is now Huddle Up

Virtual School Psychology | Your Burning Questions Answered

DotCom Therapy is now Huddle Up

If you’re an administrator in special education, you’re probably experiencing challenges finding and retaining a qualified school psychologist - and you’re not alone. Schools nationwide are struggling to fill open positions due to resignations, attrition, and lack of overall applicants.

To make matters even more difficult, the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), reports a lack of graduate programs for those who wish to pursue a career in psychology. And, if students do seek a career in the field, there’s often a shortage of qualified internship supervisors available, impeding students from completing their required coursework.

Despite this overall shortage, psychology has been Huddle Up’s fastest-growing service line since adding it in 2019, and it’s no secret why - with the lack of qualified personnel, more and more districts are looking to teletherapy to fill the void in their schools.

I had the unique pleasure of sitting down with Elizabeth W., school psychologist and Customer Success Manager for Huddle Up. Together, we answer the most burning questions about using teletherapy for school psychology in the hopes that administrators can feel confident when choosing this model as a successful alternative.

Q: What is a typical day like as a remote school psychologist?

A: Like practicing school psychology in-person, the role of a remote school psychologist is autonomous and varies from day to day! A typical day for a remote school psychologist include activities like analyzing current and/or historical student data, conducting virtual psychoeducational evaluations, attending IEP, Reevaluation, Domain, 504, or MTSS/RTI meetings, problem-solving with teachers and administrators, and recommending evidence-based interventions, as well as writing evaluation reports.

Q: How does a virtual school psychologist function in a collaborative role with staff?

A: As a tele-school psychologist, I find myself collaborating with teachers and staff just as I would in the building. This includes regularly communicating (via email, virtual meetings, phone, and so forth) to adequately address and support our student’s overall social, emotional, academic, functional, and educational well-being.

Q: What are the challenges of being a tele-school psychologist (if any), and what solutions have you found to be successful in overcoming them?

A: Working as a virtual school psychologist requires a higher degree of coordination with on-site teachers and staff. Therefore, remote practitioners might expect an increased level of communication than might be generally expected if on-site. This challenge is easily overcome by consistent and effective communication.

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Q: How do you collaborate with staff to complete a valid assessment?

A: All school psychologists and evaluators (i.e., speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, etc.) understand the importance of administering and interpreting valid assessments. To accomplish this, I first start by preparing the on-site facilitator, and then provide facilitator training regarding the importance of testing in a quiet environment free of distractions, assist with identifying and supplying needed testing materials (i.e. protocols, manipulatives, etc.), and discuss the need to monitor student behavior when testing.

Teachers and staff want to help students succeed. Because of this, a large part of training facilitators includes emphasizing how to support students undergoing evaluation without directly and/or indirectly coaching student responses. After the facilitator is properly trained and understands his or her role, conducting testing is generally straightforward. We use technology to present testing material and work with staff on-site to send necessary responses back.

Q: What do you love most about your current role?

A: My favorite part of being a school psychologist is getting the opportunity to advocate for students. I find that being a school psychologist is a lot like being a private investigator - we work to gather clues (i.e., review previous information, gather parent and teacher input, conduct evaluations) and use this information to derive conclusions about how to best support students in the academic setting.

Q: Have you had any remarkable successes as a tele-psychologist?

A:  I would say my favorite success story this school year is in my counseling work with a teenager located in the southern portion of the United States. We have been working on managing anxiety and developing coping strategies. Her progress has been remarkable, and her parents do a great job of informing me of how the student is applying the principles to her everyday life!

Q: Tell me about any leadership opportunities that you’ve had in your role. Were the tasks/responsibilities more challenging because of your location? Why or why not?

A: Most school psychologists, whether virtually or in-person, are usually considered leaders within their buildings and/or district. As a virtual school psychologist, I have had the opportunity to be a leader in IEP, MTSS/RTI, PBIS, and data analysis meetings, and I have not found these opportunities to be any more challenging than in-person. As a matter of fact, holding these meetings virtually are generally preferable to all parties and we are able to utilize technology to review information collaboratively.

Q: What would you want districts who are hesitant about using psychology services remotely to know?

A: For districts hesitant about using remote school psychologists, I would encourage them to try it and see how it goes! School districts have an opportunity to address staffing shortages, maintain special education compliance, and effectively support students in their buildings and districts by using virtual psychological services. I would imagine school administrators, teachers, and staff will find there is not much difference from having your school psychologist in person. In fact, they might even find that their school psychologist is even more accessible since not spread physically throughout the district/county.

Want to know if partnering with Huddle Up would be right for your school or school district?