Society

President’s column
Liz Campbell
Contact Liz Campbell via the Society’s Leicester office,
or e-mail: [email protected]

Many and various professional organisations have been involved in dealing with victims of terrorism across Europe. In 2001 the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA) formed a task force to examine the issues for psychologists of working in the field of crises, trauma and disasters. This task force became a standing committee of EFPA in 2005, and it has representatives from more than 20 countries in Europe. This committee has been very successful recently in having their recommendations about psychological input to disaster planning and responses and training for responders accepted by the Council of Europe.

Over the last 18 months, the Society has been involved in a European Commission funded project on ‘Psychological Aid for Victims of Terrorism’. Our partners in this project have been EFPA, the Madrid branch of the Spanish Psychological Association, and Conseil Européen des Professions Libérales.

In some countries there have been formal relationships set up with the key professional groups or associations and those bodies concerned with victim support. For example, the American Psychological Society has a Disaster Response Network, and it has had
a formal collaborative arrangement with the American Red Cross since 1991. Up until now there has been no European-wide means of exchanging information or training in good practice in this area between the professional bodies and non-governmental agencies. There have, however, been some academic associations concerned with this area of research and practice (for example the European Society
for Traumatic Stress Studies).

As part of our current European Commission funded project, we held two seminars where we drew together expert psychologists and other professionals from across Europe who have been working on
a range of applied and scientific projects in
this area. There are now a number of practical guidelines: in November 2007 the World Health Organization launched the Inter-Agency Standing Committee ‘Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings’. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee, comprising representatives from all of the relevant United Nations Agencies and the major humanitarian non-governmental organisations, spent years developing the guidelines. The developmental work included consultation with hundreds of mental professionals throughout the world. The IASC guidelines provide a theoretical basis and practical guidance for the delivery of a wide variety of services. There was also important draft guidance published in June 2008 by the Joint Medical Committee of NATO, entitled ‘Psychosocial care for people affected by disaster and major incidents: A model for designing, delivering and managing psychosocial services for people involved in major incidents, conflict, disasters and terrorism’.

One of the tasks of our European project has been to establish a database holding details of qualified psychologists who have expertise in delivering psychological assistance for victims of terrorism, mass violence and disasters. To date we have received expressions of interest from over 400 psychologists across Europe who wish to be included. We are currently working together with the EFPA website developers to finalise the ‘live’ version of the database and are continuing to collect the information for the database content. It will be available before the end of 2008 and will be open to access by individuals and institutions who are seeking psychological advice or assistance.

Our Spanish colleagues from the Madrid branch of the Spanish Psychological Association, have been running a pilot project for victims of the Madrid train bombings involved in the judicial proceedings. This project has involved the training of professionals and an evaluation
of the impact of assistance on victims.

Within the Society we have had a working group for some time on Crisis, Disaster and Trauma, under the auspices of the Professional Practice Board. This working group is now taking the first steps towards forming a Section within the Society that will be concerned with these matters. Details about this and about the final results of the European Commission project will appear in The Psychologist in the coming months.

Psychology prizes for A-level students

Every year the British Psychological Society recognises the achievementsof top-performing psychology
A-level and Scottish Higher candidates from three examination boards (AQA, OCR and SQA).

Last year’s winners, including Juliette Brelsford who studied psychology Scottish Higher at Forres Academy, received prizes ofa £150 student bursary and a place at the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) Festival of Science in Liverpool, where they were also presented with their awards. 

Juliette Brelsford (18), said: ‘I’m really glad I studied psychology higher. It was such an interesting subject and I definitely think it has helped me to better understand myself and others, and my role in society. I’m sure that my background in psychology will really benefit me while I study towards a degree in law.’

Professor Dominic Upton, Chair of the Society’s Division for Teachers and Researchers in Psychology and Head of Psychology at the University of Worcester, said: ‘In today’s complex and challenging world there are few branches of science more important or more intellectually challenging than the study of human behaviour. These students have shown that they’re adept at the statistical analysis, scientific methods and experimental design that underlie the subject, and we aim to recognise this with these prizes and encourage more students to take up this challenging subject.’
 

Promoting health psychology

Health psychology is making a significant contribution to health-related research, policy and practice in the UK. In recent years the Division of Health Psychology (DHP) has been working to raise and maintain the profile of the discipline among health professionals, policy makers and the wider general public. As part of the Division’s work in this area, members of the DHP Publicity and Liaison sub-committee have recently developed a range of publicity materials aimed at promoting health psychology to a variety of audiences.

Copies of these leaflets are freely available by contacting the DHP support officer ([email protected]) and PDF versions of each leaflet are available on the DHP website (www.health-psychology.org.uk).

Martin Hagger, Chair of the DHP (2007/8) said ‘These materials will be an incredibly useful resource in raising awareness of the value of health psychology in the UK’. The DHP would like to thank all those involved in the development of these leaflets, especially Di Harcourt (Chair of the Publicity and Liaison subcommittee), Emma Eaton (King’s College London) and Althea Valentine (DHP Support Officer).

History of psychology seminar SERIES

The autumn programme of seminars on the history of psychiatry and psychology has been announced. Seminars are held at the Wellcome Building, Euston Road, London, and are a collaboration between the Society’s History of Psychology Centre and the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL. The first of this term’s series, on 6 October, is entitled ‘Criminal Psychology in Imperial Germany’.
I    Full details at www.bps.org.uk/HoPCseminars

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