School Psychology Review

The School Psychologist in the Rural Education Context

Doris Helge

pp. 402-420

Mini-Series on Rural School Psychology

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ABSTRACT: Rural school psychologists face unique challenges because of inherent rural attributes including sparse populations, geographic and climatic barriers, and traditional value systems. Mental health resources are typically inadequate in rural America,and the comprehensive roles of well trained school psychologists are frequently misunderstood in rural schools. This article discusses the rural education context and contrasts the settings of rural and nonrural practitioners. Rural factors that inhibit comprehensive service delivery are discussed as are the difficulties involved in recruiting and retaining qualified school psychologists. An overview of the historical and current use of school psychologists in rural areas is presented. Emerging rural service delivery models are discussed as are variables to be used in designing an appropriate model. It is recommended that preservice training attend to the unique skills and knowledge required of the rural practitioner and that positive inherent rural attributes be fully utilized. It is also recommended that the growing interest of the profession of psychology in rural service delivery include an interdisciplinary focus.