―We seem to have lost our psychology‖ –
The Identity Crisis and Role Revivalof Educational Psychology.
This statement by Lunt & Mayors in 2000 (Cameron, 2006, p.290), is as true now as itwas a decade ago. Role confusion has perpetuated the profession of educational psychology(EP), since its conception by Cyril Burt in 1964. There are several reasons for this; not leasthow psychology in general has infiltrated popular culture. The discipline is flourishing inmodern society; this thriving status can be attributed to universal concern for the higher needsof human beings, such as development (MacKay, 2002). While this trend
forecasts anoptimistic future (MacKay, 2002), it simultaneously jeopardises the academic eminence of the field. Specialisations su
ch as EP, are vulnerable to derision, because “in human life, psychology is ubiquitous” (Cameron, 2006, p.292). An educational psychologist‟s insight canoften be perceived as obvious by parents and teachers and dismissed by “commonsense”
scepticism (Cameron, 2006). This may however, be the least pertinent worry for the field.
MacKay (2002, p.247) suggests EP, “has become a profession that spells itself with a capital“‟e‟ and a small „p‟”; or, according to Sutton, (1978, p.151) “a career primarily within t
local government service rather than with psychology”. These claims suggest EP is defecting
from its roots, blurring its borders and diluting its skill base. This essay will confront thisdisturbing reality and purport a resolution in the vein of Farrell, Woods, Lewis, Rooney,
Squires and O‟Connor (2006, p.102) who state, that “the EP role should be focused aroundthe particularly psychological function within it”. Combining a personal and academic
orientation I will strongly contend, that the unique contribution and identity of EP lies in (aforgotten) psychology.While professional separatism is accepted as obsolete (Leadbetter, 2000), multi-agency and trans-disciplinary work appears to expose professional insecurity in EPs (Nash,Collins, Loughlin, Solbrig & Harvey, 2003). Government publications in the UK, such as
“Every Child Matters”, underline the importance of identifying and utilising the qualities and
skills unique to EPs, particularly in joint work contexts (Chief Secretary to the Treasury,2003). Despite this avocation, research with newly qualified EPs, shows they find it difficultto develop professional identities distinct from other education workers (Wagner, 1995;Ashton & Roberts, 2006). Once absorbed within services, post-training anxiety ensues(Stobie, 2002), as EPs are uncertain about their function and the novel input they make in