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School Neuropsychology: “Brain-Based” School Psychology

neuro psychologist with girl patient

School neuropsychology is a specialized area of study within the broader field of school psychology.

Specialists and practitioners of school neuropsychology apply the principles and practices of neuropsychology in the contexts of the educational system, providing assessment, evaluation, intervention and rehabilitation for school-age children with neuropsychological difficulties and disabilities.

What is School Psychology?

School psychology uses aspects of clinical and educational psychology to assess and treat students’ problems in learning and behavior. School psychologists can have expertise across a wide spectrum, including:

  • General psychology
  • Education
  • Child and adolescent development and psychopathology
  • Parenting and family practices
  • Learning and personality theories
  • Methods of effective instruction and schools
  • Psychological and educational assessment
  • Psychotherapy
  • Consultation
  • Abnormal, cognitive, experimental and developmental psychology

What is School Neuropsychology?

Neuropsychology is the study of how the brain relates to thinking and behavior. It’s an inclusive discipline that can include elements of neuroscience, psychiatry, neurology and philosophy. School neuropsychology applies principles from neuropsychology to the learning realm and includes topics such as:

  • Assessment and intervention of children with learning disabilities
  • Evaluation of cognitive processes
  • Genetic and neurodevelopmental disorders of children and adolescents
  • Neurocognitive rehabilitation techniques
  • Neuroanatomy

How Can I Study School Neuropsychology?

The idea of school neuropsychology as a standalone subfield is relatively new and it is infrequently found as an option for specialization within a PhD program.

The rarity of school neuropsychology as a specific academic program may be due to abundant overlap from other areas of psychological study such as educational, cognitive and developmental psychology. But according to the American Board of School Neuropsychology, the field of school psychology has ballooned in specialized research in recent years.

Types of Certification

One avenue to expand your knowledge in this subfield is through certification. Some of your opportunities for certification credentials in school neuropsychology include the following:

Diplomate in School Neuropsychology

Provided by the American Board of School Neuropsychology, this is a peer-reviewed endorsement that will validate your competency in the field.

Two years of post-PhD work experience in school psychology are a prerequisite, or a minimum of two years supervised experience after a graduate degree along with additional supervised training in school neuropsychology. Applicants must complete the following to earn this credential:

  • Documentation of your professional skills and training
  • Passage of a written exam
  • Oral defense of a written case study

School Neuropsychology Post-Graduate Certification Program

Credentialed by Kindergarten Interventions and Diagnostic Services (KIDS), Inc., this course trains psychologists to use principles of neuropsychology in their practice working with children.

You must be a school psychologist with a state or national license or certification, or a licensed psychologist with specific intent to work with school-aged students. Applicants must complete the following to earn this credential:

  • Present a case study presentation
  • Pass a final exam