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Abstract

The common path through which youth with mental health problems actually receive treatment is the education system. The current study used qualitative methodology to explore why school psychologists are not providing the level of mental health services that children need, leaders in the field call for, and practitioners desire. Thirty-nine school psychologists participated in 11 focus groups; they responded to structured questions regarding the range of mental health services they currently provide, as well as the personal and systemic factors that facilitate and limit their provision of these mental health services. Analysis of themes that emerged across focus groups indicated that school psychologists provide a broad variety of mental health services with an emphasis on group and individual counseling as well as crisis intervention. The factors most often mentioned as prohibiting the delivery of such services included problems inherent to using schools as the site for service delivery, insufficient training, and a lack of support from department/district administration and school personnel. The enabling conditions that emerged most involved perceptions of ample support from administration and school personnel, sufficient integration into the school site, and particular personal characteristics, such as the desire to provide counseling and the ability to maintain personal boundaries. Implications for practitioners, administrators, and trainers are discussed. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.