University of Pittsburgh's SBBH Specialization
University of Pittsburgh's SBBH Specialization
University of Pittsburgh
School of Education
Psychology in Education Department
Master of Science in Applied Developmental Psychology:  Behavioral Health in Schools and Communities (BHSC)

What Is School-Based Behavioral Health?

School-based behavioral health describes supports, services, and programs that enhance children’s emotional and behavioral well-being. These services take place within educational programs located in schools, juvenile facilities, hospitals, and residential programs. 

We typically refer to three categories of school-based behavioral supports. Universal prevention programs serve to all children and are school-wide. Examples include school-wide positive behavior support, prevention programs, and school crisis planning. Selective or secondary prevention programs reach students at risk for problems, typically through a group format. Groups for students to address anger management, bereavement, or substance abuse are examples of secondary programs. Tertiary or indicated interventions offer one-on-one support to students with more serious challenges. Therapeutic support services, or TSS, individual functional behavioral assessment and planning, and individual therapy are examples.

What Are The Jobs For SBBH Specialists?

The need is great. After all, the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2001 Report indicated that twenty-one per cent of children ages 9 to 17 have diagnosable emotional or behavioral health disorders, yet only one in five receives mental health services in a given year. To meet the needs of these children, community agencies and school districts employ many individuals who provide school-based behavioral health services. For example, Pittsburgh Public Schools provides student assistance programs through the district, responding to over 4000 referrals each year.  

Perhaps you already work in school-based behavioral health and are ready to move into administration and supervision. Our program equips you with the leadership tools you‘ll need to succeed.  

Will You Help Me Find A Job In SBBH?

Yes, we have an excellent network of colleagues who hire for SBBH positions, so we can help you with your job search. In addition, you’ll have the services of the University’s Career Center as you develop your career portfolio and prepare for interviews.

Do I Need A Teaching Or Counseling Certificate To Work As A SBBH Specialist?

No, SBBH specialists come from a number of fields and most do not have teaching certificates. However, coursework in SBBH is a great way to enhance your teaching skills, especially if you work with students at risk.

Who Teaches The Courses? How Can I Be Sure They’ll Teach Me What I Need In The Future?

Our teaching faculty includes individuals nationally recognized for their work in school-based behavioral health, so you will learn from the experts. Joining our full-time faculty are practitioners who bring their real-world experience to the classroom, sharing real-world cases for you to explore.

What About Experience? How Can I Gain Experience While Going To School?

We know that some of our students haven’t spent a lot of time in schools. We also know that agencies expect candidates to have experience. That’s why we have planned an exciting internship program. You’ll work in different programs so you expand your skills while being coached by exemplary practitioners.

What About My Job? Do You Offer Classes After Work And During The Summer?

Yes, our classes typically begin at 4:30 pm, to accommodate working students. We also have coursework during the summer and on-line.

How Long Will It Take Me To Complete The Program?

That answers depends on how many courses you want to take each term. A full-time student taking 12 hours each term could finish in 12 -15 months. Perhaps you want to take only two courses a term and finish your Master’s degree within 24 months.

What Courses Do I Need To Work As A SBBH Specialist?

We recommend 12 courses leading to a Master’s degrees in Applied Developmental Psychology, with a specialization in SBBH. First, you’ll develop a deep understanding of normal development in children and adolescents, essential to planning age-appropriate services. Next, you’ll learn how schools really work and how to build successful partnerships with them. You’ll learn specific interventions for youth with emotional and behavioral challenges. Then, you’ll learn how to design, administer, and monitor programs and services, so that you can be a successful leader. Your final course will help you synthesize all you’ve learned and build your career portfolio, as you develop your own SBBH program or project.

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