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Volume 32, Issue 1 (2003)

Commentary: Challenges of Forging Partnerships to Advance Mental Health Science and Practice

pp. 48—52

The article by Fantuzzo, McWayne, and Bulotsky (2003) describes a model for addressing the former U.S. Surgeon General’s (USDHHS, 1999) priorities for improving mental health service delivery to our nation’s children.The authors identify several elements that characterize their own work and that can guide the work of school psychologists and other child-oriented psychologists. These elements include:(a) adopting a public health model (i.e., population-focused); (b) conceptualizing the child within an ecological-developmental context (i.e.,child-centered); and (c) involving key stakeholders as partners in the co-construction of interventions(i.e., partnership-based). Implementing a model with these elements requires the integration of research and practice, interdisciplinary collaboration, participatory program development,and strategies for creating culture-specific,ecologically valid, sustainable programs in real-life settings (Nastasi, 2000). The realization of a model with these elements presents challenges for researchers, practitioners, and those responsible for preparing future psychologists (i.e.,the trainers). For researchers, adopting such a model requires going beyond traditional research designs and methodologies to work in dynamic and complex natural settings and to work with lay partners. For practitioners, such as school psychologists, the work suggested by Fantuzzo et al. necessitates reframing traditional roles, renegotiating existing responsibilities within school systems, and developing new skills or applying minimally used skills.Finally, those responsible for the professional preparation of child-oriented psychologists (such as, school psychologists) need to rethink the goals, content, and applied experiences with in training programs, with attention to the question of whether existing training and credentialing models are sufficient to prepare psychologists of the future.

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