An Exploration of the use of therapeutic intervention across school psychology services in Ireland
Murphy, Orla Mary
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Aims: Educational legislation in the United Kingdom (UK) of the 1980s, in support of children and young people with additional needs, placed a duty on educational psychologists (EPs) to complete statutory assessments (MacKay, 2007). This restricted their contribution to other areas (ibid), including the potential to undertake therapeutic work (Atkinson et al., 2014). Key facilitators and barriers to the EP’s use of therapeutic intervention have been identified in the literature. This research seeks to explore and compare the use of therapeutic intervention by Irish EPs across three school psychology services (SPSs). Method: Using a pragmatic parallel mixed-methods design, qualitative and quantitative data were collected through hard-copied questionnaires which addressed the following research areas: the impact of personal beliefs or professional training on the EP’s interpretation of therapeutic intervention, the role of service policy and ethos on the EP’s ability to use therapeutic intervention and the key facilitators and barriers to the use of therapeutic intervention in Irish SPSs. The sample comprised 32 EPs from three services. Results: EPs appear to have a strong sense of value for therapeutic intervention and generally are confident in their interpretation and use of it. Nonetheless, service policy needs to further support and encourage the EP’s sense of autonomy in using therapeutic intervention. Access to training, continuing professional development (CPD) and supervision were regarded as important systemic facilitators to the EP’s therapeutic practice. Value of therapeutic intervention as held by stakeholders and service ethos were important personal facilitators. Important systemic and personal barriers included a lack of training, service ethos, service capacity and other priorities being identified by stakeholders. Conclusions: Implications for professional training and the EP’s practice of therapeutic intervention are examined. Educational and service policy implications are discussed. Links to future research are also considered.
Children and young people
School psychology services