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What is Educational Psychology?


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Educational psychology is a field of applied psychology dedicated to education. The purpose of Educational Psychology is to offer assistance with various problems experienced by young people in education. The aim being to enhance a client’s learning, achievement and well-being by drawing on knowledge of the wider psychological and developmental literature and its application to the client, the learning process and the relevant social and cognitive processes (Joseph, 2008).

In South Africa, educational psychologists are trained in education and psychology and are employed in school psychological services and child guidance clinics or as independent or private consultants.

The work of educational psychologists involves the diagnosis and treatment of developmental, educational, emotional and behavioural problems in people of all ages. The Professional Board for Psychology defines the scope of practice of educational psychologists as follows: “Educational psychologists are involved in assessment, diagnosis and intervention in order to optimise functioning in the broad context of learning and development” (Health Professions Council of South Africa, 2008, p. 10).

Educational Psychology (EP) is not only about understanding why a particular child or individual is having developmental and learning difficulties (i.e. what is wrong), but also about finding appropriate ways to support the child or individual (i.e. how to be of service).

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