Society

Including President's column, Lifetime Achievement award, supporting research integrity, socially inclusive parenting classes, and more

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

A ttending various conferences recently has opened my eyes up to possible different ways of doing things, which I thought might be worth sharing with you. In particular our Annual Conference is the flagship event, often having keynote speakers of high international renown. Moreover, I always find lots to interest me, but the numbers tend to be only in the 100s from a membership of around 50,000. In addition there is also a perennial (and to some extent justified) grumble that we do not know enough about what is going on in the Society, despite the best efforts of The Psychologist.

I note that I have a plethora of invitations for Division/Section/ Special Section/Branch AGMs currently hitting my letterbox (though I am sure a lot of this could now be done electronically). These can be all over the country and at times clash with each other, suggesting that there is a lot of effort going into this important part of how our Society is run. With the Branches it makes sense to have a meeting that is geographically convenient, but this seems less so for other member networks. To some extent it gives the impression that we are each in our worlds and do not know what is going on elsewhere.

On top of this a recent innovation that has proved to be very successful has been the replacement of Council with a General Assembly, which is now a two-day affair held in late autumn with representatives from the 37 member networks. One of the most eye-opening aspects of this has been attending brief presentations from participants informing us what they have been doing during the last year; these are often extremely interesting activities that many of us were previously unaware of.

The solution that the American Psychological Association (APA) has adopted is that given a membership of over 150,000 spread over an enormous geographical area, it makes more sense to have one annual meeting that attempted to involve all Divisions. In August this year there was thus a four-day annual conference; the programme surprisingly was not electronic, but was a telephone directory of just under 600 pages, weighing in at well over a kilogram. All 54 Divisions held their meetings and programmes during this time, so in theory potentially everybody knew everything, and presentations that spanned more than one Division were highlighted and could (within the physical limits of the timetable) be attended. This obviously aids communication, but also means that members make a special effort to come to the annual conference, rather than just following their own area’s interests; the attendance was in the 1000s, a much higher proportion than we get attending. Interestingly both APA members and non-members can apply to join Divisions (which have their own eligibility criteria and dues). Thus psychology schoolteachers can join the relevant Division (Division 2 Society for the Teaching of Psychology) even if they are not eligible for APA. Each Division has its own officers, website, publications (many have Division journals), e-mail list, awards, convention activities and meetings, all linked in to the APA itself.

In addition having one conference would mean savings in terms of the utilisation of office staff, and we could probably charge exhibitors much more if we were promising larger numbers. The larger numbers would also mean that the Annual Conference would generate a lot more publicity, and would ensure that our work gained better media coverage.

Another innovation at the APA conference was the slightly ‘big brotherish’ discovery that our name badges (to be worn at all times, enforced by people on doors) had a radio-frequency identification microtag (RFID) built into them, readable from eight feet. This technology is currently being developed for supermarket shopping, where all the goods are suitably tagged and when you put your shopping into your trolley it automatically produces a bill which you will be presented with at the checkout, thus not needing to have every single item separately scanned. These tags were used in the exhibition hall to check traffic flow and time spent in general terms, and to give feedback to the organisers and exhibitors (which again is a good selling point). In addition they were used in every session location, recording which you attended and (if paid for) provided a record which could be used to demonstrate that you had part fulfilled the requisite hours for what we call continuing professional development (CPD) and what they called continuing education (CE). Perhaps we could introduce something like this as a member service, with a direct link to MyCPD, so that attendance at sessions could automatically be logged and would appear on your individual record without the need for you to do anything besides attend.

Another advantage of just having a better attended Annual Conference would be the opportunity to allow further member networks to flourish at a not very great additional cost. I have just heard the welcome news that the support for a new Section on Disaster and Trauma has now reached critical mass, and there should be some developments here, including a ballot of members. This has been some time in developing, and it is worth noting that we are somewhat lagging behind elsewhere in the world; in Europe the area is seen as being so important that there is specifically an EFPA Standing Committee on Crisis and Disaster Psychology. There |is some history here; psychologists in Spain for instance played a significant role in supporting the victims of the Madrid train bombings in 2004. Elsewhere there also exists APA Division 56, which concentrates on Trauma Psychology, and was established some six years ago. There is also an International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, a non-profit international organisation for professionals who are involved in relevant work (the members are mainly psychologists), which was founded in 1983 and produces the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation.

Lifetime Achievement Award in psychology education
Annie Trapp

Annie Trapp is the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award 2012 awarded by the Society’s Psychology Education Board. It recognises and celebrates pioneering and sustained contributions to psychology education.

A long-standing interest in the role of technology in teaching and learning, Annie, of the University of York, was nominated for her ‘significant contribution to the educational knowledge base of psychology teaching through practice-based research and scholarship’.Upon hearing the announcement, she said:  ‘I am delighted and touched to receive this award. I am very grateful for the support I have received from my colleagues and students throughout my career and would like to thank them for all their help.’

From 2000 to 2011, Annie was director of the Higher Education Academy’s Psychology Network and she currently leads EuroPLAT,
a European network focusing on psychology education.

Widely published, Annie edited Psychology Learning and Teaching for 10 years and was co-editor of Teaching Psychology in Higher Education. She has also developed Internet for Psychology (tinyurl.com/cnywgdg), a free website that helps students to use the internet effectively for their studies.

Annie was nominated by a working party of the Society’s Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers in Psychology, which included Dr Jacqui Taylor of Bournemouth University, who said: ‘Annie has provided leadership to Psychology in the UK for over a decade. She has been an influential ambassador, effective spokesperson and esteemed role model for Psychology in all its applied and academic forms.’

Professor Trevor Sheldon, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, said: ‘Annie is an impressive example of someone immersed in educational theory and research who is able to translate her knowledge into practice, both for herself and others.’

Annie will receive life membership of the Society and a commemorative certificate.I  

A list of previous award winners can be found on the Society’s History of Psychology Centre website: http://hopc.bps.org.uk/histres/bpshistory/awards/lifetime.cfm

 

Supporting research integrity

On 11 July 2012, Universities UK launched the Concordat to Support Research Integrity. This followed in-depth consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including the Society. The co-signatories to the report include Department for Employment and Learning; Higher Education Funding Council for England; Higher Education Funding Council for Wales; National Institute for Health Research; Research Councils UK; Scottish Funding Council; Universities UK and the Wellcome Trust.

The Concordat sets out five commitments that will provide assurances to government, the wider public and the international community that research in the UK continues to be underpinned by the highest standards of rigour and integrity. Developed in collaboration with the Funding and Research Councils, the Wellcome Trust and various government departments, the Concordat will:
I    provide better coordination of existing approaches to research integrity;
I    enable more effective communication of efforts to ensure that the highest standards of rigour and integrity continue to underpin all our research;
I    encourage greater transparency and accountability at both institutional and sector levels; and
I    stimulate reflection on current practices to identify where improvements can be made.
 
A number of key stakeholders have now signed up as supporters of the Concordat (including the Academy of Medical Sciences; Association of Research Managers and Administrators; British Medical Journal; Council of University Classical Departments; CREST: Consortium for Research Excellence, Support and Training; Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; Government Office for Science; Improving Dispute Resolution Advisory Service for Further and Higher Education; Medical Schools Council; Royal Musical Association and the UK Research Integrity Office).

The British Psychological Society is delighted to confirm its support. The President, Dr Peter Banister, welcomed the Concordat, which the Society has helped to shape, saying ‘…it represents a welcome development for UK Research’. As a supporter, the Society confirms its commitment:
I    to recognise the commitments outlined in the Concordat;
I    to embed the Concordat in our work ;
I    to participate in the proposed Research Integrity Stakeholder forum; and
I    to engage with thee annual report, ‘Research Integrity in the UK’.

We are also committed to awareness raising and engagement with the stakeholder forum, especially in relation to the development of the implementation plan. As the Society is already quite active in this area and we hope to be able to make useful contributions to this work.
I    For more information on the Concordat, see tinyurl.com/c529fvf

 

Socially inclusive parenting classes

Technique is not enough: A framework for ensuring that evidence-based parenting programmes are socially inclusive’,
a Professional Practice Board discussion paper for the British Psychological Society by Fabian A. Davis, Lynn McDonald
and Nick Axford

In the foreword to this landmark publication for the British Psychological Society, Naomi Eisenstadt CB (former Director
of the Social Exclusion Task Force at the Cabinet Office) comments:

Over the last ten or more years I have been caught in arguments between two camps: one camp claiming that providing anything other than parenting programmes evaluated using randomised control trial design and delivered with fidelity is a waste of public money and bound to fail. The other camp argues that unless programmes are co-designed with users themselves and are sensitive to local differences and capitalise on the judgement of those providing the programmes to adjust them according to local need and circumstances, they are bound to fail. This paper presents a coherent approach to bringing these two seemingly opposing positions together.

Prepared over three years, in collaboration with several professional bodies, universities, children’s welfare organisations, parenting practitioners, and parents and young people who have experienced parenting ‘classes’, the authors have drawn together a set of questions about programme access, uptake and the retention of families within programmes and how such programmes can become locally valued social capital and sustainable in their communities.

The authors were keen to understand the processes and practices that could ensure evidence-based programmes will be attractive to all families, especially those from socially disadvantaged and marginalised groups. Through a survey of developers of the United Nations top 23 recommended programmes, they obtained examples of a wide range of emerging social inclusion strategies. In their report, the authors use these examples to make the links between theory and practice explicit. Their aim is to enable readers to contemplate further innovation, as the various strategies can be combined and integrated in ways that could ensure programmes are fully inclusive and sustainable. The Technique Is Not Enough (TINE) framework attempts to summarise the main principles involved.

Aimed primarily at programme developers and researchers, local commissioners and psychologists, the report covers four areas: the TINE framework, encompassing access, recruitment and retention; cultural adaptation through co-production; developing social capital; and sustainability. Detailed examples illustrate the text throughout, where the psychological principles involved are explained and integrated into a heuristic framework that can be used as a guide to this emerging field in both programme and service development and research. Further
calls for evidence will be followed up in future publications.
I    The report, ‘Technique is not enough: A framework for
ensuring that evidence-based parenting programmes are
socially inclusive’, is available as a free download at tinyurl.com/tineppb

 

Preventing suicide

In Preventing Suicide in England: A Cross-Government Outcomes Strategy to Save Lives, the government has set out its overall objectives to reduce suicide and improve support for those bereaved or affected by suicide. 

David Murphy, Chair of the Society’s Professional Practice Board, said: ‘Each year more lives are lost to suicide than road traffic accidents so we are very pleased to support the government in developing this strategy. However, achieving the objectives will depend on a wide range of organisations taking coordinated action, nationally and locally. With this in mind the Society has worked together with a wide range of statutory, professional and third sector organisation to develop the “Call to action for suicide prevention in England” campaign which is also launched today. The complementary campaign brings together over 50 national organisations committed to work together and deliver real action to reduce the risk of suicide.

‘This is the first time that so many organisations have committed to work together on this issue. It’s an important step forward as the risk factors that contribute to suicide are wide-ranging and complex, so the task of preventing suicide requires action from all parts of society and across organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors. As psychologists, I believe we have an important role to play  by working together with other stakeholders.’Among the tangible objectives that have been set are: to improve access to services, by making sure local and national information is easily available; to develop strategies to encourage help-seeking behaviours amongst both ‘high-risk’ groups and the whole population; and to create mechanisms to make sure that people in distress have access to effective interventions and are given information in a clear and consistent way.

David concluded: ‘We know that the risk of suicide increases in the population at times of financial hardship and it will be important that suicide prevention is maintained as a priority over the next few years. We hope that by giving our support to the Call to Action campaign we will be able make a difference to those who are experiencing feelings which may lead to suicide and also those who are bereaved or suffer in other ways as a result.’

 

Consultations News

Responses to five consultations were submitted by the Society
during August. The Society would like to thank the 10 members, representing 15 member network groups, who provided their time and expertise to enable the preparation and submission of these responses.

Three of the consultations concerned the draft scopes for guidelines being developed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in relation to diabetes in children, Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. The Society identified two main areas – mental health (for children and young people with diabetes and their families) and behaviour change techniques – where psychological expertise is both crucial to good diabetes self-management and associated with other key outcomes, such as bio-markers of diabetes control. The importance of assessing aspects of positive psychological health as outcomes in diabetes care was highlighted. The uncertainty surrounding the value of blood glucose self-monitoring (SMBG) by those with Type 2 diabetes was noted and, in the light of this, it was recommended that it should be determined in the guideline which subgroups of people would benefit from SMBG and which would not.

Responding to the Welsh Government’s consultation on their draft delivery plan, Together Against Stroke, the Society was concerned that the lack of specificity of measurable indicators and performance measures would cause problems with local service development and the addressing of inequity of services, particularly in relation to the provision of psychological care across stroke units in Wales. Greater consideration/emphasis was recommended regarding:
I    the full range of the consequences of stroke;
I    the psychological needs of younger survivors of stroke;
I    the carers of those affected by stroke;
I    social services and third sector services; and
I    stroke survivors and their families as active participants in their recovery treatment and cognitive rehabilitation.

Finally, the main recommendations made by the Society in response to proposed changes to child performance legislation from the Department for Education and the Welsh Government were that:

I    producers be encouraged to afford safe opportunities for children to perform, recognising the potential benefits, while protecting them securely from psychological harms;
I    robust risk assessment of performances and the vulnerabilities of proposed child performers be put at the heart of a new licensing process;
I    it be recognised that children of different ages and backgrounds will have varying, individual resilience and vulnerability;
I    arrangements for chaperonage be appropriate to the nature of the performance and the characteristics of the children performers; and
I    people advising on risk assessment and safeguarding protocols for child performers be properly qualified to do so.

Full details of all consultations, including downloadable copies of consultation papers and the Society’s responses, are available at www.bps.org.uk/consult.



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