Máire shares her experience of working as an Educational Psychologist with the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) in the Department of Education. She talks about the supportive environment which allowed her the opportunity to grow and develop her skills.

What was your education path to becoming an Educational Psychologist?

Degree in Applied Psychology (UCC); Doctorate in Applied Psychology (UCC); Dip Psych (Professional Diploma) in Educational Psychology with the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI).

What does your role entail as an Educational Psychologist in National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)?

I am an Educational Consultant to schools with whom I work with to support the social, emotional and educational wellbeing of all students. In this role I work directly with students and collaborate with their parents and teachers to work towards agreed outcomes for these students. I also work indirectly with students by providing advice and support to their teachers around aspects of their teaching practice. Finally, I work with schools and teachers to address their school as a whole body and promote inclusive policies for all students around important issues such as emotional well-being, promoting positive behaviour, SEN (Special Educational Needs) policy, anti-bullying policies and managing Critical Incidents. An important feature of our Consultative work is the collaborative nature of our work with parents and teachers where we engage in a problem-solving approach with key people in a child’s life. In this way we work towards agreed outcomes with parents and teachers using current best practice.

What were your reasons for joining the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)?

Joining NEPS allowed me the opportunity to work within a team based structure with the support of colleagues and team leader. This supportive environment allowed me the opportunity to grow and develop my skills whilst availing of a system of supervision from a both designated person and from a system of group peer supervision. Being part of a friendly Team is also very beneficial both from a personal and emotional well-being point of view as well as from a work and skills based perspective. Covid taught us all the importance of belonging and how important social networks are! The role of the NEPS Psychologist is also very varied and dynamic and it is an excellent opportunity to develop a whole range of skills as you have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings such as in both primary and post primary schools, special classes in mainstream schools and for some colleagues, special schools.

What opportunities has this role provided you with?

The ongoing structured supervision from a designated source and from peer supervision is a great way to support the development of your skills and knowledge. The availability of high quality CPD (Continuous Personal Development) in NEPS is a fantastic bonus in terms of keeping up to date with current best practice in various areas. CPD is offered to the entire service (National), to your geographical region (Regional) and each Psychologist also has their own Personal CPD Budget. The opportunity to become involved in working groups around specific areas of interest is also a great way of developing skills in areas that you are either interested in or would like to develop your knowledge in.

What aspect of your role as a psychologist in the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) do you particularly enjoy?

I love the variety of my work within NEPS! Every day is different. We work across a diverse age range from approximately 4 years of age up to approximately 18 years of age. We also work across a number of educational settings such as mainstream primary and post primary, special classes in mainstream and special schools. The ongoing relationship that we have with a group of assigned schools also means that we have an opportunity to develop ongoing positive relationships with our schools and we have the chance to see positive change with the students and families that we work with. This is very satisfying and makes the job very rewarding!

Would you recommend a career in the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)?

I certainly would! I have loved the variety of my work. I get a kick out of the positive feedback that I receive from parents and schools. I also appreciate the supportive environment of the Team structure and the opportunity to get advice and support from colleagues. Finally, the CPD on offer is first rate, varied and frequent.