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School-based Prevention and Intervention


Entry 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. Ethical issues regarding confidentiality, responsible caring and open and honest relationships are discussed during lectures and workgroups. Theoretical and empirical issues pertaining to course objectives 1 -4 will be discussed during the lectures. The student will write an essay for assessment. The workgroup sessions will address course objectives 5-7. They facilitate skills training – early detection and intervention – by means of demonstrations and practice exercises, on which oral feedback will be provided. The workgroup programme also involves practising skills on a child or adolescent in between sessions. These activities have to be described and evaluated in a report.
NB. students are expected to find a suitable child/adolescent with whom they can practice the skills.

Specific focus

Within the general domain of social and emotional difficulties this course focuses on stress and anxiety in the classroom setting. Many students feel stressed over homework, feel anxious about taking exams or doing oral presentations in their 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 behaviours. 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.

The course provides students with knowledge and basic skills (to be extended during the internship) that a school psychologist needs to (help teachers) detect stress and anxiety problems at an early stage and implement and conduct appropriate interventions at school.

Course objectives

Students prepare for working as a school psychologist by acquiring knowledge to:

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

  • Compare advantages and limitations of interventions at the school vis-à-vis mental health services;

  • Distinguish between various forms of stress and anxiety (specifically between test anxiety, performance anxiety and social anxiety); and

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

Students prepare for working as a school psychologist by learning skills to:

  • Detect feelings of stress and anxiety at an early stage without making ‘false positive’ errors;

  • Design psycho-education sessions to support early prevention; and

  • Apply basic techniques from school-based intervention programmes 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

Lectures Work group sessions



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

  • 1 half-hour individual meeting

Weblectures are not available.

Assessment method

Two writing assignments of which one is provided with written feedback (40% of final mark) and one is provided with written feedback on an initial version and oral feedback on the final (graded) version (60% of final mark) during a concluding individual meeting.
An insufficient grade for a writing assignment can be repaired by rewriting the assignment based on the feedback provided by the instructor. Because the student has received this feedback, the maximum grade for a second attempt will be 6.0.

Active participation in lectures and work group sessions (needs to be satisfactory to pass)

The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.

Reading list

  • Beesdo, K., Knappe, S., & Pine, D. S. (2009). Anxiety and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: Developmental Issues and implications for DSM-V. Psychiatry Clinics of North America, 32, 483-524.

  • Bögels, S. M., Mulkens, S., & De Jong, P. J. (1997). Task concentration training and fear of blushing. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 4, 251-258. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-0879(199712)4:43.0.CO;2-5 Bray, M.A., & Kehle, T.J. (Eds.). (2011). Handbook of School Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Free online version available)

  • Essau, C. A., Olaya, B., Sasagawa, S., Pithia, J., Bray, D., & Ollendick, T. H. (2014). Integrating video-feedback and cognitive preparation, social skills training and behavioural activation in a cognitive behavioural therapy in the treatment of childhood anxiety. Journal of Affective Disorders, 167, 261-267. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.05.056

  • 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.

  • Weems, C. F., Scott, B. G., Graham, R. A., Banks, D. M., Russell, J. D., Taylor, L. k., … Marino, R. C. (2015). Fitting anxious emotion-focused intervention into the ecology of schools: Results from a test anxiety program evaluation. Prevention Science, 16(2), 200-210. DOI:10.1007/s11121-014-0491-1

  • Werner-Seidler, A., Perry, Y., Calear, A. L., Newby, J. M., & Christensen, H. (2017). School-based depression and anxiety prevention programs for young people: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 51, 30-47. DOI: 10.1016/j.cpr.2016.10.005

Contact information

Dr. Esther van den Bos