Advancing Advocacy: Lessons Learned From Advocates in School Psychology

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Although school psychologists are called on a daily basis to advocate for the needs of our nations' schoolchildren, little is known about the factors that contribute to effective school-based advocacy. This study involved face-to-face interviews with 21 award-winning school psychology advocates. They described what led them into advocacy, obstacles faced, successes experienced, mistakes made, strategies used, resources employed, skills needed, and changes observed. The advocates discussed their definitions of advocacy, how they find balance, their advice for newcomers, and how they empower others. Following a qualitative content analysis, their collective input yielded important findings, including indispensable advice for future advocates. Most suggested that beginners' build relationships with like-minded collaborators and the targets of their advocacy, devote time to building expertise, and be patient and persistent. Common obstacles included intransigence among school psychology colleagues who were reluctant to change their roles to reflect new developments in the field or who feared participating in advocacy would destabilize their positions. To fully embrace an advocacy role, most advised advocacy education and training for both existing school psychologists and newcomers to the field. Limitations and implications that inform a foundation for advancing advocacy within school psychology are discussed.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Psychological Services