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A member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) has undertaken a study into how educational psychologists respond to crisis situations, such as school bus accidents and injuries to pupils and staff.
Dr Matt Beeke of Cambridgeshire Educational Psychology Service at the Institute of Education, University of London, presented his research – believed to be the first major study in this area for 15 years – at the BPS’ Division of Education and Child Psychology annual professional development event, in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
The research, which involved a survey of 89 educational psychologists, was carried out to give an overview of the support they provide following a traumatic event. To examine practices more closely, interviews with a selection of educational psychologists were also carried out.
The study found that most educational psychology services offer help to schools in crisis situations and that both training and policies for crisis situations are now widespread. Schools were generally positive about the support they had received.
Key issues highlighted included the need to ensure educational psychologists receive adequate supervision in such circumstances and the need for robust evaluation of work carried out to ensure it has been effective.
Dr Beeke said: “It is clear that educational psychologists have an important role to play in such situations and their contribution is highly valued by school communities. It is important that advances in our understanding of the effects of trauma are applied when carrying out this work, as this ensures that interventions are as effective as possible when helping schools.”
He added: “Future research could focus on the long-term impact of traumatic incidents on school communities and how models of post-traumatic growth might be applied in the practice of educational psychologists responding to traumatic incidents.”