Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Advisors: Shannon M. Suldo, Ph.D. and Linda Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D.


School psychology, Psychotherapy, Focus groups, Training, Years of experience


The primary purpose of this study was to elucidate factors that school psychologists perceive inhibit them from providing more mental health interventions within their professional roles. School psychologists' dual training in mental health and education renders them the logical choice to provide tier II and tier III interventions in schools (National Association of School Psychologists [NASP], 2003). School psychologists appear to be in agreement, as they indicate a desire to spend more time in the provision of roles such as counseling and consultation (e.g., Prout, Alexander, Fletcher, Memis, & Miller, 1993). However, school psychologists currently spend relatively little time in the provision of such services (e.g., Curtis, Hunley, Walker, & Baker, 1999).

Although this contradiction provides a rationale for further investigation, previous lines of research have not fully identified why school psychologists are not providing their desired levels of time in the provision of mental health services. Research also suggests that significant differences exist among school psychologists of different ages and levels of experience pertaining to their roles within the school system (e.g., Curtis, Hunley, & Grier, 2002). Therefore, factors such as years of experience also should be considered when studying school psychologists' roles in the provision of mental health services. Thus, an additional purpose of the current study was to examine the frequency of the themes elucidated across each research question as a function of practitioners' levels of experience.

Participants were 39 school psychology practitioners from two geographical locations, ranging in age from 26 to 61 years old (M = 41.92, SD = 11.22) and had from 1 to 32 years of experience (M = 11.89, SD = 10.49). Eleven focus groups, composed of two to five members each, were conducted. Participants responded to a set of openended questions, and the discussions were audiotaped and then transcribed verbatim. Within each question, several common themes emerged across the focus groups; however, differences between practitioners' level of experience was noted on several occasions. Implications for future research and practice are presented, specifically related to the training and professional development needs of school psychologists.