Who We Are … Our Mission

The International School Psychology Association (ISPA) was officially founded in 1982, but can trace its roots to 1972, when a group of school psychologists from several countries formed the International School Psychology Committee.

ISPA is a Non-Governmental Organization officially affiliated to UNESCO.

Since its foundation, ISPA has successfully promoted the spread of school psychology, particularly in countries where the profession was not fully established. This process has been facilitated through the ISPA Conference, held each year in a different country. This gathering of professionals from around the world has an impact on the development of the profession in the host country as well as providing an important forum for professionals from around the world.

ISPA is strongly committed to improving healthy development and quality of life for children everywhere. ISPA has thus made children’s human rights a high priority in its international work during the last decade and will maintain this emphasis in the future. For this purpose, ISPA has initiated and collaborated with international endeavors that benefit children or hold a genuine promise to do so. The involvement of school psychology at the national level will significantly strengthen many of these projects.

There is growing demand for School Psychologists to broaden their spheres of influence. The valuable knowledge and experience we have accumulated in confronting the realities of modern life enables us to take a more active role in the community. We can now place these at the service of the national and local leadership of different countries, both political and educational, helping them to develop and implement programs designed to improve the quality of schools and the lives of children.

School Psychology Does Make a Difference

ISPA’s mission is to:

  • Promote the use of sound psychological principles within the context of education and schooling internationally at global and local levels.
  • Promote the improvement of children’s and young people’s well-being as well as their cognitive, emotional, physical, social and spiritual development in schools and communities accros the world.
  • Promote communication and collaboration among parents/caregivers, educators and other professionals who are committed to the improvement of children’s well-being.
  • Promote high standards for the provision of educating school and educational psychologists nationally, regionally, and internationally.
  • Promote high standards of practice in school and educational psychology across the world.
  • Promote high quality research that informs practice in school and educational psychology and addresses the cultural diversity of children across the world.
  • Promote and protect the rights of all children and young people according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and related UN statements.
  • Initiate and promote cooperation with other organizations, working for purposes similar to those of ISPA, in order to advocate for and support children and young people across the world.
  • Promote structures that prevent and protect all children from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, ability, sexual orientation, disability, or socio-economic status; and advocate for the inclusion and participation of all children in education and society.

ISPA is a voluntary, non-governmental nonprofit organization. Assisted by a small and dedicated central office staff, association members contribute their time and expertise to the work of the Executive Committee, of four standing committees and many ad-hoc committees, task forces, and interest groups. Every year, ISPA members give thousands of hours toward the preparation of the annual conferences, documents, publications, and projects aimed to further the profession worldwide.

ISPA is a leading international force in the field of School Psychology. Twenty five national professional associations are currently affiliated with ISPA.

ISPA – Support for the Profession Worldwide

ISPA colloquia are held in a different country each year. These annual meetings form a vital part of the activities of the Association as they provide opportunities for members to come together, share ideas and experiences, meet old friends, and make new ones.

During the four day annual conference, participants discuss practices that help parents raise healthy, resilient children, and that help teachers meet the needs of all students, including those with challenging learning and emotional problems. The conferences focus on different themes each year.

The conferences also serve to advance the profession in those regions in which they are held:

In 1993, ISPA’s presence in Slovakia helped lead to the passage of legislation establishing school psychologists as specialists in that country.

The 1994 conferencein Brazil had a significant impact on establishing the profession in that country as well as other South American countries.

The 1998 conferencein Latvia boosted the official recognition and rapid development of the profession not only in Latvia itself but also in the neighboring countries of the Baltic region in particular.

Similar benefits have occurred in many other countries where ISPA has held their annual summer meeting.

ISPA also has developed a definition and code of ethics of the profession and other documents that are useful internationally, including a set of core requirements for the training and education of School Psychologists.

Support for Schools and Teachers

ISPA members are resources in countless ways to teachers and to the schools where they work. Among the ways ISPA members provide this support are:

  • helping teachers understand child growth and development, social/emotional needs of children and how they learn;
  • assessing learning and emotional problems and helping teachers develop strategies and interventions to help children be more successful in the classroom;
  • providing counseling to children in need of emotional support;
  • establishing or joining crisis response teams when schools experience trauma such as the illness or death of children, their family members or school staff, natural disasters, wars, terrorism;
  • teaching peer mediation, conflict resolution and social skills to children to encourage alternatives to violence;
  • designing programs for children at risk of school failure;
  • implementing prevention programs to deal with issues such as violence, drug abuse, alcoholism, sexual molestation;
  • consulting with school principals on ways to improve the social and emotional climate of the schools.

Support for Children, Parents, and Families

School psychologists are often the primary link between homes and school, providing front-line support to families in times of crisis. Among the projects ISPA members have participated in are:

  • working with parents to manage learning and behavior problems in the home setting;
  • collaborating with community agencies to meet the broader social service needs of children and families;
  • offering psychological support to children in the Kosovo refugee camps and training the crisis relief staff;
  • responding to shootings in Columbine High School and other US schools;
  • providing relief services to the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and hurricanes and floods in South America;
  • training the professional relief staff in areas affected by crisis.