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Practical Uses of AI

Helping psychologists advocate for the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve our practice

This article was created by three human intelligences; Dr. Liz Angoff, Dr. Byron McClure, and Rachele Teson, Ed.S.

As psychologists, the idea of integrating AI into our practice can feel scary.


Increasingly, we see research and articles focused on the potential negative consequences of using artificial intelligence in our work.  There are legitimate concerns about privacy, bias, and psychologists over-relying on these tools to do our work for us.


However, these fears should not prevent us from seeing the incredible positive potential AI holds for us, our families, and the institutions we serve.  


HIPAA and FERPA-compliant platforms are emerging, with ongoing improvement to account for bias, and we are evolving best practices to help us integrate this new technology just as we have others in the past, including the internet, texting, and even social media.

We are on the precipice of a new era that could fundamentally change how we practice…for the better.


AI tools have the potential to help us dramatically improve our service to families and foster more authentic participation from both children and adults in the assessment process.

How?


Below, we outline the powerful ways AI can help us fulfill our ethical and professional responsibilities to our families by helping us:


  • Engage children in the testing process

  • Increase authentic participation from families 

  • Serve as a buffer against psychologist burnout

  • Support district goals and priorities


Use this article and the handout below to talk to your district or institution about AI's benefits and why it is critical that we embrace the future.


New to AI? For a basic overview and tips to get started, click here.

AI for Students

Increasingly, we see the power of helping children understand their testing results and advocate for what they need.  However, “how to” do this remains a challenge.


We face many barriers in helping children to understand how their brains work, including finding the right language, engaging their attention, and communicating a positive, empowering message.


AI can help.


1. Understanding Testing Results

First, using the language powers of AI, we can ask tools like ChatGPT, BastionGPT, or School Psych AI, which has been designed specifically for school psychologists, to help us create a child-friendly explanation of their testing results.  


For example, try this prompt:


Create a child-friendly metaphor of ADHD using music.”


Here’s what ChatGPT created with the above prompt.


Try substituting “ADHD” for any eligibility category or diagnosis and “music” for your child’s interest. 


If you’re using ChatGPT4, you can ask it to “create an image to illustrate the metaphor.”


2. Increase Self-Advocacy

Second, one goal of assessment is to help children become effective self-advocates so that they can ask for what they need to help their brains be at their best.


AI can help us create these statements with our students.  


For example, try this prompt:


“What are 5 ways a 2nd grader can ask their teacher to slow down so that they have more time to process?”

To see what School Psych AI created for this prompt, click here.


3. Participating in IEP Meetings

Students are asked to participate in their IEP meetings at a certain age. This is a critical step, but many children are left confused and bored by the IEP process.


Instead, use the metaphor and self-advocacy statements above to give them something to share with the team.


For example, print out the examples of how students can self-advocate and ask the child to read it to the team at their next IEP.


Alternatively, write out the self-advocacy statements and share them with teachers, using the child’s knowledge, so that adults know what it might sound like for the child to ask for what they need.


AI for Families

It is part of our ethical obligation to authentically involve families in the assessment process; however, there are many barriers to this, especially when it comes to language.


The language barriers for families go beyond translation from one dialect to another.  Rather, the jargon and terms we use can be confusing and overwhelming.


Again, AI can help.


1. Creating Accessible Language

Our work is challenging to understand. There are infinite acronyms, clinical terms, and jargon in psychology and education that seem intuitive to us but foreign to families.


AI can help give us ideas on translating these complex concepts into parent-friendly terms. 


For example, try this prompt:


“Explain the WISC-V using parent-friendly language.”


Or


“Give me 5 examples of where one would use working memory in the real world.”


From here, you can edit these prompts to fit your family and ensure they fit your case.


2. Authentic Participation in the Process

When the language and concepts are easier to understand, families feel less overwhelmed, more comfortable, better understood, and safer.  


Using the simpler language and real-world examples outlined above, families can connect with the information we are sharing. It sounds like their child, and it shows that we understand them beyond numbers on a page.


For families, this makes it easier to ask questions and advocate for their child in collaboration with the team.  


3. Effective Advocacy

AI tools can help parents who are new to the IEP or assessment process generate questions they may wish to ask.  


We, as psychologists, can even offer these questions in a handout or bring them up to help families articulate their worries or concerns.  


For example, try this prompt:


“What are 5 questions I should ask at my child’s IEP meeting?”

Before families leave, ensure they are clear on this information to check for understanding or learn where we might need to circle back.


AI for Psychologists

In addition to being able to serve children and families better, psychologists benefit directly from using AI tools as part of our work.  


First, burnout is a significant impediment to sustainability in the field of testing psychology. School Psychologists are especially at risk, given their high caseloads and quick timelines.


AI can help avoid burnout in several ways and help us flourish in our practice.


1. Reducing Mental Load

Given AI's language power, we can use AI tools to help organize notes and turn thoughts into prose.  


For example, try this prompt:


Turn the following notes from my conversation with a child’s teacher into a paragraph to include in the child’s psychological report.


Then, enter your notes however they appear—as sentence fragments, bullet points, or disjointed thoughts. Importantly, read the response and double-check for accuracy. 


Using AI in this way does not diminish our clinical skills.  In fact, it allows us to focus on what’s most important - the information we are communicating. 


AI helps us get it across the finish line.


2. Creating Templates

AI thrives with generalities.  We can use this power to help create some of the more standard portions of our reports.  For example,


Create a template for writing up the WISC-V to be integrated into a comprehensive report.  Use paragraphs and brackets for where personalized information should go. Use parent-friendly language and be concise.

Then, edit it to fit your report and writing style.


3. Increasing Creativity

AI is a powerful muse.


While it is important to remain vigilant over accuracy, AI thrives when we specifically ask it to make things up.  


For example, many psychologists are using these tools to help brainstorm ideas for teaching specific concepts in therapy groups or counseling.  Try asking,


What are 5 activities to help 3rd graders learn turn-taking skills?

If you don’t like what it gave you, follow up with a more specific request such as,


Thanks!  Can I have 5 more, including some that involve being outside?

While AI is not a therapist, these ideas will jump-start your planning and have the potential to lead to something that was not on your radar before.


4. Addressing Diversity

As psychologists, we are responsible for practicing cultural humility as we learn about each unique family we work with.  


This includes writing and communicating in a way that is accessible to all families and all kinds of brains. 


AI can help by translating our psycho-jargon into parent-friendly language, summarizing our lengthy reports, translating important information, using relevant real-world examples, and creating visuals that are easier to process.  


Try these prompts before explaining testing results to your next family:


Rewrite the following paragraph in parent-friendly language.
What are 5 real-world examples of where we use working memory?
Please translate the following into Spanish.
I want to create a Venn diagram of the overlap between the strengths and challenges of autism and ADHD.  What should go in each part of the Venn diagram?

Additional ideas:

  • Use the School Psych AI Summarizer to create a summary for parents, teachers, or anyone else on the team.

  • Watch Summarizing Reports from Explaining Brains.

  • If you have ChatGPT4, search for the Whimsical GPT to create a mindmap of the child’s profile.


AI for Districts & Institutions

Given the power of AI described above, these tools not only serve students, families, and psychologists but the district or institution as a whole.  


Specifically, AI has the potential to:


  • Increase staff retention by reducing burnout

  • Decrease tension with families as teams are better able to communicate assessment results

  • Analyze and make sense of complex data and data sets

  • Standardize practices and language 


If you are an administrator, try this prompt to get you started:

Here is our district data set for chronic absenteeism [include data set]. Based on this data set, give me the three most critical findings. Additionally, give me three action items I can include in my comprehensive school plan (CSP). 

In addition, organizations may convene an AI Work Group to begin using these tools to make our paperwork more parent-friendly, our reports easier to read, and provide more tools for psychologists to communicate important information to families.


Advocating for AI in Your Workplace


If you are an AI pioneer in your workplace, the following visual was designed to help you advocate for these tools at all levels.




When implemented in this way, the use of AI aligns with our core principles, including the NASP Practice Domains, such as…


  • Supporting Data-Based Decision Making

  • Improving Mental Health and Behavioral Supports

  • Facilitating Family, School, and Community Collaboration

  • Promoting Equitable Practices for Diverse Populations


…as well as APA’s Multicultural Guidelines, such as:


  • Recognizing differences in language and communication

  • Validating lived-experience

  • Taking a strengths-based approach


The best way to convince your leadership team to step into the future is to show the importance of these tools, not just tell.  Start experimenting, and the results will speak for themselves!


We hope this has been helpful to your practice! 


As always, please let us know if you have any questions.



Disclosures: Byron McClure is the CEO of School Psych AI, Rachele Teson is affiliated with School Psych AI and is the creator behind School Psych Simplified, and Liz Angoff is the creator of ExplainingBrains.com.

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