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A Message from the School Psychology (MA/CAGS) Program

Bob LichtensteinWelcome from the Department Chair

Dear Entering School Psychology Student,

Congratulations on joining our learning community!  We look forward to a close working relationship with you in the years ahead as you develop the knowledge and skills to become a consummate mental health professional. 

Our competency-based curriculum and experienced faculty provide the future school psychologist with the strongest possible foundation for a career as a mental health professional.  As you may know, William James College emphasizes experiential education, personal growth, and social responsibility. 

I hope you will find the introductory information at this website to be useful.  This includes:

  • Greetings from School Psychology Program faculty members.
  • A description of field placements at William James College. You will be contacted shortly as we match you with a first year practicum site before the end of the school year. An overview of Primary Project, an invaluable learning and service activity that is integrated into the first year of the program, as students deliver a play-based preventive mental health service.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at bob_lichtenstein@williamjames.edu or 617-327-6777 x1561 with any questions you may have about our School Psychology Program, or your specific issues concerning graduate school preparations or decisions. 

On behalf of the faculty, we look forward to working with you and getting to know you well in the years to come.

Best regards,

Bob Lichtenstein, PhD
Chair, School Psychology Program
bob_lichtenstein@williamjames.edu

Faculty Introductions

Dr Bruce Ecker

Welcome to our School Psychology Program!

Once you enter, we will have the pleasure of working together in the first year course, Lifespan Development as well as other program activities.  My courses emphasize the mental health aspects of the profession of school psychology. In so doing, I integrate important theoretical and research papers with numerous case examples from my more than 25 years of practice as a school and clinical psychologist. I look forward to sharing these with you.

Bruce Ecker, PhD

Dr Ronda Goodale

Congratulations on your admission to William James College. I am looking forward to meeting you in the first year. I teach two first year courses: Educating Children and Adolescents with Special Needs, and Behavioral Assessment, Intervention, and Consultation. During the behavioral course you gain an appreciation of how various components contribute to the behavior observed in a classroom setting. You have the opportunity to practice and evaluate solid consultation approaches.

I really am excited about the opportunity to work with you over the course of an entire year and see the many milestones reached.

Sincerely,
Ronda A. Goodale, PhD

Dr Craig Murphy

Welcome to our School Psychology Program! 

I am so glad that you chose our program and I look forward to working with you over the next couple of years. In the MA/CAGS program, I currently teach Statistics (Fall of Year 1) and Research Methods (Spring of Year 1), and I am the coordinator of the First Year Exam (you’ll hear more about that later). In the PsyD program, I currently teach the Doc Project courses with Dr. Lichtenstein and Social Bases of Behavior (Summer Year 1 - my favorite class). I may be taking on a few additional classes in the future. I am also a practicing school psychologist in the Newton Public Schools, so I work hard to incorporate my everyday experiences into my teaching. Although I enjoy all aspects of our profession, I am especially interested in understanding and supporting children with emotional and behavioral disabilities. I am excited to meet you and look forward to starting our journey together here at William James College!

Craig Murphy, PhD

Dr Barbara Miller and Dr Charles Brown

Welcome to William James College and the School Psychology Program. 

We look forward to meeting you and to the exciting year that lies ahead.  We teach the sections of Practicum I and Practicum II; FP 501 and FP 502.  This two semester practicum allows you to balance academics with real world professional experience in a school environment. The seminar format of the class provides opportunities for you to share with each other your experiences “in the field”.  In addition, we support the other academic classes you take and introduce you to an important mental health prevention initiative called Primary Project. 

We truly enjoy participating in the training and development of school psychologists and we are eager to join you in your academic adventure.   

Barbara Miller, PhD
Charles Brown, PhD

Field Education

Students in our School Psychology Program are in field placements each semester of full-time enrollment, and remain in the same placement for a given school year.  Field placements are intended to be of value for both the trainee and the host school district.  Field placements represent formal arrangements with the agency, as well as with the field supervisor.  For school placements, it is important that school administrators support, approve, and recognize the value of the training activities in which the student is engaged. 

The Willingness to Participate form is used to determine the type of placement (first or second year practicum, or internship) for which the field site is appropriate, and to keep basic site information on file. 

Practicum placements and internships are distinctly different in character, as described below.

Practicum Placements

Practicum Placements

Practicum placements are intended to afford trainees the opportunity to practice specific coursework-related skills that promote positive student outcomes. Practicum placements are arranged or facilitated by our faculty to assure that the placement offers appropriate supervision and enables the student to engage in the requisite activities and training experiences.

The practicum placement field supervisor must meet William James College criteria (continuity of school site assignment, in particular) and agree to fulfill supervisory responsibilities as described in this document. The field supervisor schedules a regular time to meet weekly with the student.

The Field Training Contract serves to formalize practicum placement arrangements. As a general rule, practicum placements run from the beginning of the school year, through at least the beginning first week of June. In concluding the placement, however, practicum students are expected to meet ongoing responsibilities to those they serve, for example, in following through with counseling services, completing a program evaluation, or presenting the results of an assessment.

The role of the field supervisor is both facilitative and supervisory. Key aspects of the field supervisor's facilitation role include orientation and monitoring students' interactions with school personnel and arranging opportunities for them to complete assigned coursework. The field supervisor also ensures that the student is functioning in a manner that meets the performance standards and expectations of the setting, primarily through direct observation and individual supervision.

Close collaboration between our faculty and field supervisors is central to the process. Our practicum seminar instructor and other course instructors assume a significant role in assigning and monitoring course-related tasks, ensuring proficiency of course-related skills, and providing clinical supervision. Work products that are put to use by the field site (e.g., observation summaries, intervention monitoring data, test protocols) are routinely reviewed by a William James College instructor.

Each year of practicum has a distinct focus, as described below and as outlined in the Practicum Grid ( see below).

First Year Practicum

The first year practicum student is on site 1-1/2 days, (9-10 hours) per week, for a total of 300 hours over the course of the school year (i.e., from opening of school through the first week of June). The primary field supervisor must be able to provide a minimum of 1/2 hour per week of direct supervision. This practicum is best suited to early childhood and elementary level settings.

The first year practicum placement is more prescriptive than the second year practicum or internship. Our curriculum provides a substantial amount of structure for the first year practicum, with the inclusion of course-related assignments. These include structured observation, benchmark screening or progress monitoring of academic performance (i.e., curriculum based measurement), data collection to determine effectiveness of interventions, and conducting educational and cognitive assessments with individual students (see Practicum Grid). The field supervisor and school administration must be supportive of the placement, and ensure that the school can provide opportunities for the student to practice the specific skills associated with the practicum.

Second Year Practicum

The second year practicum encompasses a wide range of training experiences. The second year practicum student is on site 2-1/2 days (15 hours) per week, for a total of 500 hours over the course of the school year (i.e., from opening of school through the first week of June). The primary field supervisor must be able to provide a minimum of 1 hour per week of direct supervision. The second year practicum is best suited to middle school or high school level. Clinical practice is the primary focus of the second year practicum. Essential training opportunities include individual and group counseling, comprehensive (including social-emotional) assessment, consultation, and intervention design and monitoring.

Our Field Placement Director can facilitate second year practicum placements, or students may seek their own placements starting in February of the previous school year. Student-initiated placements must be approved by our School Psychology Program Field Placement Director. To meet program standards, a practicum placement must provide appropriate field supervision and offer opportunities to practice key skills associated with concurrent coursework.

The field supervisor assumes the primary role of supervising and evaluating training activities. Flexibility is afforded in the content and sequence of practicum activities, and field supervisors are encouraged to arrange activities above and beyond those required for concurrent coursework. To ensure that the field placement offers ample training experience in assessment as well as other domains of practice, it is recommended that the practicum student conduct from 8 to 12 comprehensive assessments. The number of assessment should not exceed 15.


Practicum Course Title Concurrent Course Work Key Coursework-Related Practicum Activities
Year 1, Fall
FP 501  Practicum I: School Environment and Educational Assessmen
  • Children & Adolescents with Special Needs
  • Instructional Assessment & Intervention
  • Observe special programs and classrooms
  • Observation of classroom instruction
  • Assist with screening or monitoring of literacy skills, preferably using curriculum based measurement (CBM)
  • Assist with "early intervening services" (i.e., students who need academic and behavioral support in general education)
  • Administer standardized educational tests
  • Collect functional behavioral assessment data
  • Collect data to monitor effectiveness of individualized interventions
  • Conduct a structured classroom observation
  • Conduct individual educational and cognitive assessments
Year 1, Spring
FP 502  Practicum II: Psychoeducational Assessment and Intervention
  • Behavioral Assessment, Consultation, and Collaboration
  • Psychoeducational Assessment
Year 2, Fall
FP 601  Practicum III:  Clinical Practice
 
  • Counseling and Psychotherapy in Schools
  • Social-Emotional Assessment of Children and Adolescents
  • Provide individual counseling
  • Conduct comprehensive assessments, including social-emotional assessment; present results at team meetings
  • Participate in teacher assistance/student support team process, and collect data to assess outcomes
  • Lead or co-lead a counseling group
  • Consult/collaborate with teacher(s)
Year 2, Spring
FP 602  Practicum IV:  Clinical Practice
  • Group Process and Group Therapy
  • Consultation in the Schools
Internship
The internship is the culminating training experience in our School Psychology Program.  Three criteria are essential for a placement to qualify as an acceptable internship placement:
  • A minimum of 1200 hours, of which at least 600 must be in a school setting;
  • Two or more hours of field-based supervision per week from an appropriately licensed school psychologist or, for non-school settings, a psychologist appropriately credentialed for the setting; and
  • Opportunity for the intern to practice and integrate a wide range of competencies across the domains of training and practice in school psychology.

As is standard for school psychology internships nationally, and in keeping with the intern’s level of prior training and field experience, William James College strongly supports the expectation that full time interns receive a stipend.  A student who wishes to accept an unpaid internship may request a waiver from our School Psychology Program.

The primary supervisor assumes responsibility for the integrity and quality of the internship training.  To ensure that the field placement offers ample training experience in assessment as well as other domains of practice, it is recommended that the intern conduct from 15 to 25 comprehensive assessments.  The number of assessments should not exceed 30.

The instructor for our Internship Seminar, which runs concurrently with the internship, serves as the training program supervisor for the internship.  Our supervisors works collaboratively with the field supervisor and the student to ensure the quality of the training experience.  Our Field Placement Office establishes institution-wide policies, and coordinates and monitors record-keeping of field placement documents (i.e., Field Placement Contract, Initial Feedback form, and Internship Competency Evaluation form). 

Interns are encouraged to select an area of personal interest in which to develop advanced expertise.  The field supervisor is encouraged to propose an interest area that can be incorporated into the internship experience.  Some examples of interest areas are as follows: 

  • Children with autism/autism spectrum disorders
  • Children with behavior and emotional disorders
  • Children with low-incidence disabilities 
  • Development of social skills/life skills 
  • Early childhood assessment & intervention
  • Instructional assessment and consultation
  • Positive behavioral interventions and supports
  • School-wide mental health promotion/prevention

Primary Project

What is Primary Project?
Primary Project is early intervention school based prevention program designed to reduce social, emotional, and school adjustment difficulties and to enhance related competencies. The target audience is children in grades kindergarten through third.

How are children selected to participate in Primary Project?
Through the use of a carefully developed screening tool (AML-R) and discussions with teachers, parents and administrators children are selected to participate in Primary Project. Children who may be shy, anxious, withdrawn, defiant, moody, exhibit problems engaging other peers in positive relationships, exhibit mild physical aggression, or generally experience school as unpleasant are often most appropriate for participation in Primary Project.

Who is involved? Who sees the children?
The Primary Project Team is made up of mental health professionals and child associates, teachers, and administrators within a school. Child associates work with the selected children in one on one expressive play sessions. Child associates receive ongoing training and supervision by experienced professionals.

What happens with the child, once he or she is selected to participate?
Children that are selected will be individually paired with a child associate who will see them once a week for 25-30 minutes usually for 12 sessions. They will engage in child-directed play strategies during their time together. The play sessions occur in a designated playroom within a school. The playroom is intended to provide a safe and welcoming environment in which the child and adult can interact. It is not the role of the child associate to interpret or analyze the play, but to support the child in his or her activities.

Will parents and teachers be involved and/or informed about the child’s progress?
Teachers help select children for the program. They also provide feedback about the child’s progress and help evaluate the program. Parents are encouraged to communicate directly with the school-based mental health professional in order to receive more information, ask questions, or schedule a visit to the playroom.

Student Organizations

Student Organizations