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School-based Prevention and Intervention


Enry requirements

  • This course is only available for Master’s students in Psychology with specialisation School Psychology

  • Completion of this course (or Needs-based Assessment) is necessary to start with the internship.


General approach.

The course provides general theoretical and empirical knowledge on strategies for prevention and intervention of social and emotional problems: how to detect such problems at an early stage and how to conduct early intervention programs. Theoretical and empirical issues will be discussed during the lectures. The workgroup sessions facilitate skills training – early detection and intervention – by means of demonstrations and practice exercises. . The workgroup programme involves practising skills on (a group of) children or adolescents in between sessions.
NB. students are expected to find a suitable child/adolescent, or small group of children/adolescents, with whom they can practice the skills.

Specific focus.

Within the general domain of social and emotional difficulties this course focuses of stress and anxiety in the classroom setting. Many students feel stressed over homework, feel anxious about taking exams or doing oral presentations in one’s own class, or may fear interactions with unfamiliar peers or teachers. Stress and anxiety often occurs in students who can be described as generally introvert, shy, or socially anxious. Such feelings of stress and anxiety interfere with the learning process itself, undermine the motivation to learn and achieve, threaten one’s general sense of wellbeing at school, may result in depressed mood, and may ultimately lead to occasional or even regular school absenteeism. Such problems often go unnoticed for quite some time, because these students hardly cause any overt difficulties to their peers, teachers or school management. They tend to hide their thoughts, wishes, and problems, and generally do not call out for help. This exacerbates their difficulties and makes them even harder to reach and to provide aid. Indeed, stress and anxiety may not be recognized when they are expressed in depressive or unruly behaviors. Hence, the school faces a dual difficulty: how to detect these problems and how to intervene at an early stage. Early intervention is crucial for the student’s sense of wellbeing and learning achievement at their present school, as well as for future prospects in their educational and professional career.

Course objectives

Advanced knowledge

  • Taking all three school levels – student, teacher, management – into account when designing and implementing a strategy for early intervention.

  • Distinguish among three types of early intervention: primary (universal), secondary (selected), and tertiary (intensive) (Response to Intervention Model).

  • Advantages and limitations of interventions at the school vis-à-vis mental health services

  • When and how to refer a seriously troubled student to an external mental health service.

  • Developmental psychopathology – risk and protective factors – with focus on stress and anxiety (refreshment undergraduate knowledge)

Acquisition of skills

  • How to detect feelings of stress and anxiety at an early stage (as students do not readily acknowledge these feelings) without making ‘false positive’ errors.

  • How to distinguish between general stress and anxiety, and specifically among test anxiety, performance anxiety, and social anxiety

  • How to design a psycho-education program to support early prevention based on principles of positive psychology

  • How to apply school-based group interventions for stress/anxiety reduction (e.g., exposure-in-vivo, relaxation, task-concentration, cognitive restructuring, skills training)


For the timetables of your lectures, work groups and exams, please select your study programme in:
Psychology timetables



Students need to enroll for lectures and work group sessions.
Master’s course registration


Students are not enrolled for an examination. They can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar dates before the date. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination.
Registering for exams

Mode of instruction

  • 7 2-hour lectures introducing the theory and feasibility of early detection and intervention

  • 7 2-hour work group sessions facilitating training in the skills of early detection and intervention at school

  • Feedback on three written reports, twice written feedback and once oral feedback.

Assessment method

  • Three written reports, of which two are provided with written feedback (70% of final mark) and one with oral feedback during a final examination (30% of final mark)

  • Active participation in lectures and work group sessions (needs to be satisfactory to pass)
    The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has instituted that instructors use a software programme for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. In case of fraud disciplinary actions will be taken. Please see the information concerning fraud.

Reading list

  • Bray, M.A., & Kehle, T.J. (Eds.). (2011). Handbook of School Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Free online version available)

  • Kearny, Ch. A. & Graczyk, P. (2014). A response to intervention model to promote school attendance and decrease school absenteeism. Child & Youth Care Forum: Journal of Research and Practice in Children’s Services, 43(1), 1-25. DOI 10.1007/s10566-013-9222-1

  • Simon, E., Dirksen, C. D., & Bögels, S. M. (2013). An explorative cost-effectiveness analysis of school-based screening for child anxiety using a decision analytic model. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 22(10), 619-630.

Additional online-readings will be provided via Blackboard.

Contact information

Dr. Esther van den Bos