Understanding Identity: A Guide for School Psychologists

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In the quest to understand how we develop our sense of self, the article Social Identities and Intersectionality: A Conversation About the What and the How of Development stands out as a beacon of knowledge. Published in the esteemed Annual Reviews, this research delves deep into how our multiple identities—like race, gender, and social class—intertwine from early childhood and shape the way we see the world and ourselves. It’s a treasure trove of insights for school psychologists and other professionals working in educational settings, helping to foster healthier, more inclusive school environments.

What is Intersectionality?

Intersectionality is a concept that helps us understand how various aspects of a person’s identity combine to create unique modes of discrimination and privilege. Imagine identity as a multi-layered onion—each layer represents a different aspect of who you are, and together, they form the complex individual that is you. This concept is particularly important in the school setting, where children from diverse backgrounds interact daily.

Why Should School Psychologists Care?

  1. Enhanced Understanding of Student Behavior: By understanding intersectionality, school psychologists can better comprehend the unique challenges and experiences that shape student behavior and social interactions.
  2. Tailored Support Strategies: With a deeper insight into students’ multifaceted identities, professionals can customize support strategies that acknowledge and address the complexity of students’ lives.
  3. Promotion of Inclusivity: Intersectionality encourages the creation of more inclusive school environments that respect and celebrate diversity, contributing to the overall well-being and mental health of all students.

Implications for School Mental Health

Building Empathy and Understanding

Understanding the concept of intersectionality allows school psychologists to foster an environment of empathy and understanding. Recognizing the different layers of identity each student navigates can lead to more compassionate and effective communication.

Customized Intervention Strategies

Interventions can be more effective when they are tailored to the unique intersectional identity of each student. School psychologists are better equipped to support students facing specific challenges related to their racial, gender, or socio-economic status when they understand how these identities intersect.

Advocacy for Systemic Change

School psychologists can play a crucial role in advocating for changes in school policies and practices to ensure that all students, especially those from marginalized communities, have equal opportunities to succeed and thrive.

Engaging with the Article

For those keen on exploring the rich insights this research provides, the full article is available at Social Identities and Intersectionality: A Conversation About the What and the How of Development. It is an invaluable resource for any educational professional committed to understanding and improving the mental health and well-being of students through an intersectional lens.


The journey of understanding and applying intersectionality is not just an academic endeavor; it’s a commitment to creating a more empathetic and inclusive world within our schools. As school psychologists and educators, delving into the complexities of identity and intersectionality helps us provide better support, build stronger relationships, and advocate for a more equitable educational landscape.

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