Puerto Rico – After so many moments of crisis in recent years – hurricanes, earthquakes and currently the pandemic – the role of school psychologists within the reach and disposition of children, adolescents, youth, parents, teachers and the school community becomes even more necessary. in general. This was assured to La Perla del Sur by the clinical psychologist and consultant in School Psychology, Dr. Amilcar Colón Cortés.
As explained, the school psychologist contributes to the development and physical and emotional well-being of students. In turn, it observes and analyzes their behavior, emotions and cognitive processes, either individually or in combination.
Dr. Colón Cortés highlighted that the school psychologist has eight active roles that are part of his functions as a professional, which he can exercise in educational settings from elementary level to university level.
“In general, a school psychologist can work with prevention, offer psychoeducational workshops to prevent any discomfort; the second role is education, it can give psychopedagogical strategies to teachers, whether it be motivation, integration, classroom management; third is the area of evaluation; a school psychologist has the knowledge and tools to do psychometric psychoeducational evaluations ”, he mentioned.
Likewise, he added that another role is consulting and advising, whether for teachers, social workers, directors; role of intervention, when a student presents mental health symptoms, this is where the intervention comes in; role of research and planning, you can investigate some educational, emotional, cognitive processes that occur within the school setting; and finally there is the role of the provision of health care
Law 170 of the year 2000 known as the “Program of Psychologists in the schools of the Department of Education of Puerto Rico”, establishes that there must be a School Psychologist assigned to each school of five hundred (500) students or less. If the school campus has more than five hundred (500) students, an additional School Psychologist must be assigned.
“Last year hundreds of places were opened for schools and it is something very positive, but it has not been until so many years that the state has given way to this much-needed profession. And we can highlight that we have an achievement after having gone through so many disasters, so many psychosocial situations. We have a law and it is being enforced. And we want this to continue, ”said Dr. Colón Cortés.
According to his criteria, in these times of disasters, where so many emotional disturbances arise – in all members of the school community – it is when school psychologists are most needed, for which he understands the fact of that there has been a mass recruitment.
“One of the roles is also to give workshops to the community, understand the parents; give communication strategies, parenting strategies, study habits, that is, the school psychologist can work both with students, with teachers, with parents; within the school culture the school psychologist has an active and necessary role ”, he highlighted.
Likewise, he understands that his role as a researcher is important and that at this time it would be interesting to study what is happening and how the pandemic has affected the school community.
For example, after a few months after Hurricane María, a study was carried out in Puerto Rico to learn about the repercussions of the disaster on students.
According to the study led by Rosaura Orengo-Aguayo, a clinical psychologist at the Medical University of South Carolina, around 1 in 14 Puerto Rican children suffered post-traumatic stress after Hurricane María, representing 7.2% of the country’s students. Girls were more likely to have signs of PTSD than boys, according to the report.
Dr. Colón Cortés has found that sleeping and eating patterns have been altered by the pandemic. “When a person does not eat well and does not rest well, emotions are going to be altered,” he indicated about the perception he has had.
Dr. Amílcar Colón Cortés is a clinical psychologist, consultant in Sports Psychology, School Psychology and Assistant Professor at Ponce Health Science University.
Holds a Professional Certification in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT) Focused on Trauma from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).
He currently has clinical practice at: 2351 Blvd Luis A Ferré, Ponce, PR 00717-077. Office number: 939-285-3344.