Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Douglas L. Epperson


School psychologists have been seeking to identify the ways in which they can have the greatest impact on the schools, students, and families they serve, while expressing a desire to decrease their involvement in the role of "gate keepers" for special education. With recent reforms in education and health care and a growing awareness of the mental health needs of children and adolescents, school psychologists have been called to expand their roles, taking greater leadership in comprehensive systems of care. Prevention, particularly primary prevention, has been identified as a key area for role expansion, along with being a cost-effective means for reducing the need for costly evaluations and placements in special education. While roles in consultation and intervention have been well documented in the literature, very little is known about practitioners' involvement in prevention. This study explored school psychologists' current level of involvement in prevention programming and examined factors that might contribute to or serve as obstacles to the provision of prevention programs in school settings. Data were collected from a national sample of 320 practitioners. A large majority of practitioners surveyed reported little or no involvement in prevention programming, spending half of their time on assessment activities. Practitioners did indicate a preference for reducing the amount of time spent in assessment, while increasing their involvement in other professional roles, including prevention programming. Practitioners reported a greater degree of preparation for and confidence in more traditional roles (e.g. psychoeducational assessment, intervention) versus prevention activities. Despite feeling less confident and prepared to assume prevention roles, practitioners identified a lack of time as the major obstacle to their involvement in prevention activities, followed by lack of support from administrators/employers and lack of coordination with other mental health service providers. Implications for future research and role expansion into the area of prevention programming are discussed.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Melissa Bernadine Cermak



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

149 pages