The role of school psychologists in social-emotional learning programs


Lauren Flynn

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.S. in School Psychology


Department of Counselor Education & Human Services


Advisor: Elana R. Bernstein


Parents' and educators' concern for children's mental health and emotional competency has grown over the past few years as violent incidents are placed in the spotlight. Adequate social and emotional skills enable students to succeed academically, develop positive relationships, and be prepared for the workplace following graduation. Schools can help students develop these skills through the use of social-emotional learning programs. Social-emotional learning programs explicitly teach students skills such as emotional awareness and conflict resolution. Though several studies have supported the efficacy of social-emotional learning programs, few have examined school-based professionals' use and perceptions of SEL programs. The present study examined school psychologists' perceptions of SEL programs in schools and the role practicing school psychologists play in SEL programs. Participants were also asked about what barriers they experienced or would anticipate in implementing social-emotional learning programs. Thirteen school psychologists were interviewed in a focus group format to gain insight into their perspectives and use of social-emotional learning programs. The results provide a better understanding of school psychologists' stance on using social-emotional learning programs and what barriers they have experienced in the implementation of these programs. The school psychologists discussed how social-emotional learning is an important component of students' education, that there should be a push to integrate social-emotional learning in schools, and that several barriers exist to implementing a social-emotional learning program. The most frequently mentioned and discussed barriers were time, teacher comfort, and buy-in. Suggestions are made for future research and how school psychologists can advocate for social-emotional learning programs.


Affective education, Social learning, School psychologists Attitudes, Emotions in children, Curricula, Curriculum Development, Education, Educational Psychology, Psychology, Social Research

Rights Statement

Copyright 2014, author