Who provides psychological services? The United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, does not specify who, other than a trained psychologist/school psychologist, is considered qualified to provide psychological services. In Florida, school psychologists and psychologists are considered qualified to provide these services. However, given the state’s expanded definition of psychological services to include mental health services, other educational professionals (e.g., school and licensed mental health counselors, behavior analysts, and school and licensed clinical social workers) also may have the expertise required to provide one or more of these services. Therefore, the use of the term “psychological services” as a related service should not be limited to only those services provided by professional psychologists. By restricting the terminology in this way, Florida educators may erroneously report that psychological services are not available because a school psychologist or psychologist has not been the actual provider of the services. Given the importance of ensuring that all students, both those with and without disabilities, have equal access to services defined as “psychological services” (or, if preferred, “mental health services”), school districts should consider the broad range of available qualified personnel in the provision of these services. Qualified personnel would be those
trained in the theoretical application of principles and practices of the science of psychology to the understanding and interpretation of human behavior. These personnel may be district school board employees, professionals from community mental health centers, independently practicing professionals, or a combination of these.
It should also be noted that some aspects of other categories of related services also may fall under the term “mental health” (e.g., counseling services, school health services, social work services, and parent counseling and training). The provision of these services, like psychological services, may not necessarily need to be restricted to specifically titled individuals but could be provided by others with the necessary experience, training, and expertise. In addition, contracted services from community providers may be utilized to support services that students require. These providers may use a variety of service delivery methods, from providing direct services to an individual child to providing consultation and training to school staff on the use of a particular strategy or method of assistance. School districts may collaborate with other agencies, such as the local office of the Department of Children and Families or the Department of Health, to facilitate the provision of needed related services.