The Emergence of Psycho-Educational Clinics in the US in the 1920s

In the 1920s, as an outgrowth of the testing movement, multidisciplinary psycho-educational clinics were established in schools and the community for diagnosis and educational programming for children with problems (Kode, 2002, Wallin, 1914, 1955, p. 62-64).

Two individuals who were instrumental in initiating the psychoeducational clinic movement were J. E. Wallace Wallin and Elizabeth Farrell.

Wallin, among the first school psychologists, established psychoeducational clinics, throughout the United States. Wallin opened eight psychoeducational and mental hygiene clinics and six special education departments. Some examples include: (1) His founding in 1910 of a psychological laboratory, at the New Jersey Village for Epileptics, in Skillman, New Jersey along with a state-supported psychological clinic; (2) His founding in 1912 of a psycho-educational clinic at the University of Pittsburgh, and (3) in 1914 his assuming the directorship of the psycho-educational clinic in St. Louis Missouri.

Elizabeth Farrell established an influential psychoeducational clinic to serve the New York City Schools. In 1913, in her role as an administrator of a Department of Ungraded Classes in the New York City Public Schools, Farrell established a psycho-educational clinic for evaluating, testing, and making placement decisions for problem children in the New York City schools. There were four staff serving the clinic, covering the disciplines of psychology, medicine, social services, and education. Their duties were as follows:

Psychologist: The psychologist administered the Seguin and Binet intelligence tests and the New York Regents Literacy Test. Other tests were administered depending upon the needs and questions being asked.

Medical inspector: The medical specialist examined all children who were recommended for placement in the ungraded classes. They search for evidence of nervous or mental disease, and recommended the first line of treatment. They also looked for evidence of contagious diseases and for physical defects that might impede school progress.

Social services: This social services role was fulfilled by volunteer visiting teachers. They analyzed home conditions, obtained parental cooperation, discussed problems with teachers and principals, assisted teachers, and followed up on recommendations.

Education: The educator on the team worked with the schools to make placement decisions and curricular adjustments.