President’s column Richard Mallows
Contact Richard Mallows via the Society’s Leicester office, or e-mail: [email protected]
The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is paradoxically for me the season of fresh starts, as it will be for students joining university courses in psychology. It’s the joy of the unknown and new for students and the chance for teachers to revise and refresh. For those A-level, pre-tertiary and first-year undergraduate students who might need a little inspiration the Psychology4Students lectures are designed to help. This year the lectures are in Sheffield on 21 November and in London on4 December (see www.bps.org.uk/p4s).
There are free October copies of The Psychologist for all new higher education psychology students who request it and an electronic copy is circulated to all departments. I strongly urge you to look at this publication to get a feel of the psychology world and develop your own identity as a psychologist. Numeracy, literacy and critical thinking developed on a psychology course will be invaluable, not only in psychology. The psychologically literate citizen is a desirable goal.It has been my immense privilege to have been a teacher in HE for over 30 years. For my first HE interview I read a book entitled What’s the Use of Lectures by Donald Bligh. I have just finished a new book entitled What Are Universities For? by Stefan Collini. The HE sector has changed dramatically, succumbing in my view to a market ideology not appropriate for this sector. The values of individualism and instrumentalism have dominated but a groundswell of opposition is beginning. Michael Sandel in his book What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets gives staggering examples such as buying prison cell upgrades in some American states. Universities are the place to challenge values and ask fundamental questions. Being a student should be serious but it should also be fun. The British Psychological Society is the leading learned society and professional body in the UK for psychologists. As the second largest society worldwide we look forward to welcoming our 50,000th member in the near future. A prize awaits!
The BPS is a members’ organisation with 900 psychologists actively engaged in Society activities. All members are automatically a member of their regional Branch. Some members join Sections related to their interest in psychology whilst others belong to Divisions, which represent applied practitioners in their respective fields. Member networks are there to support psychologists throughout their careers. This voluntary activity is ably supported by 100 staff, mostly in Leicester but also in London and regional offices.
Our international reputation for advancing the science and practice of psychology has been achieved via the wide range of activities we undertake. We set educational standards and offer support and advice on the quality of degree courses. The BPS in association with the Heads of Psychology Departments and the Higher Education Academy has produced a report, The Future of Undergraduate Psychology in the United Kingdom, designed to strengthen the discipline in HE.
Psychology is promoted through our press centre, marketing and parliamentary activities. We work with other learned societies within the UK and worldwide (5000 members live and work overseas). More information is on our website www.bps.org.uk. Suggestions for enhancing this site are most welcome.
There is a wide range of services to help with your studies in psychology in particular:
I The Psychologist, published monthly containing inspiring articles, useful information and news;
I the award-winning, heavily used Research Digest (www.researchdigest.org.uk/blog), which has just marked its 10th anniversary and where you can learn about the latest published research (non-members of the BPS can register for this service too);
I membership of the Student Members group an active network for undergraduates;
I PsyPAG, another active network for postgraduate students;
I the Society website with members only area contains much helpful information.
Students are the lifeblood of the Society and I strongly urge you to join. This year the student membership fee is £24 – a bargain. Next year the fee will be £25, so no time to lose. An application form for membership can be downloaded at www.bps.org.uk/membership. Begin the lifelong relationship.
Presidents’ Award 2013
Professor Tim Dalgleish, leader of the Cognition Emotion and Mental Health Programme at the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, is to receive the 2013 Presidents’ Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychological Knowledge.
This is a mid-career award made each year to someone engaged in research of outstanding quality. Tim oversees a translational research programme focused on mood and anxiety disorders. His work seeks to build on advances in cognitive theory and fundamental science to refine existing psychological treatments and to develop novel interventions. Tim’s basic science utilises a broad range of research methods including neuroimaging, psychophysiology, behavioural genetics, cognitive psychology and neuroendocrinology. This basic science feeds into a clinical trials programme conducted at the Cambridge Centre for Affective Disorders based at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, where Tim is the Director.
Tim’s work to date has focused mostly on clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He works with both children and adults – something increasingly rare in leading scientists.
The translational emphasis has been on understanding processes of memory, executive control, and emotion regulation in these conditions and using the findings of basic laboratory science as a springboard for the clinic-facing research and trials.
In the domain of memory, along with UK and international collaborators, Tim’s work has looked at the imbalance in affective disorder sufferers’ memory where access to specific emotional events is diminished while access to categorical summaries of past negative experiences is enhanced. This relative imbalance creates difficulties, because ready access to specific memories appears critical for problem solving, planning, social discourse and emotional regulation. Reduced memory specificity is therefore seen as a driving force in the maintenance of disorders such as depression and PTSD. Recently, Tim’s work has explored the utility of ‘memory specificity training’ – systematic practice in recalling detailed and specific recollections, as a potential short, easily-delivered treatment for depression and PTSD, with encouraging results. A second stream of memory-focused work, in collaboration in Cambridge, Oxford and the Institute of Psychiatry, has focused on developing cognitive therapy interventions for PTSD in children and adolescents. The current clinical trials evaluate this treatment in eight- to 18-year-olds with PTSD in the acute phase following trauma (the ASPECTS trial) and in three- to eight-year-olds with PTSD (the PYCES trial).
Emotional disorders, including PTSD and depression, are also characterised by deficits in executive control. These are particularly marked in the context of affectively laden self-relevant information, so interventions to improve affective executive control have great therapeutic potential. Tim has published several landmark reviews
in this field and the clinical application of his work has included the development of affective executive training protocols, examining affective goal neglect and investigating mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (with colleagues in Exeter) and self-distancing and perspective-broadening.
Tim’s more recent work has adopted a broader a ‘transdiagnostic’ approach to understanding emotional disorder. The underlying rationale is that commonalities in aetiology, latent structure, underlying biology, and cognitive-affective processes among mood and anxiety syndromes supersede any differences in surface signs and symptoms between them. Consequently, concentrating on understanding these core maladaptive psychological and affective processes that cut across established diagnostic divisions and on shaping interventions to modify these processes is likely to prove fruitful in enhancing the current psychological treatment portfolio. To that end, a new collaborative strand of work with colleagues in Exeter, York and Sydney has expanded Tim’s research focus to the full range of mood and anxiety disorders in adults through the development of a novel transdiagnostic psychological treatment. So far, 10 intervention modules, designed for delivery across 10–20 sessions of individual sessions of individual therapy, have been developed and are being piloted in the clinic.
Tim Dalgleish studied at Oxford before taking a PhD and qualifying as a clinical psychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry. He has supervised numerous postdoctoral fellows, postgraduate and undergraduate students and research staff and has always been committed to developing the careers of those around him. His colleagues and students unanimously regard him with utmost respect, trust and fondness. He is one of the most highly regarded clinical scientists internationally, which can be attributed, in his own words, to ‘taking the science seriously but not taking himself too seriously’.
Interventions with a difference
A ‘Therapeutic Interventions with a Difference – Actions Not Words’ conference will be held at the Society’s London office on 23 October 2013 from 10am to 5pm. This will be an innovative and thought-provoking conference initiated by the committee of the DCP Faculty of Race and Culture. The conference will highlight and enhance knowledge around culture and black and ethnic minority issues for those involved in applied psychology. Clinical, counselling and educational psychologists have been involved in organising this conference, and a range of speakers including an occupational psychologist will address a wide range of topical issues. In addition, the chairs or their representatives of the DCP, DCoP and DECP will all be making presentations, whilst, a range of workshops will be available throughout the afternoon.
We hope that you will come along, network, and contribute to the discussions of the day.
I Further details are available at www.bps.org.uk/events/
therapeutic-interventions-actions-not-words – we recommend booking early to secure a place
Self-help books on prescription
The British Psychological Society (represented by Elaine Iljon Foreman) has played a key role in supporting the development of Reading Well, the first national ‘Books on Prescription’ scheme for England.
The scheme was launched on 4 June 2013 at The National Association of Primary Care by Norman Lamb, Minister for Care and Support and Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries. It provides expert-endorsed self-help reading based on cognitive behavioural therapy, to help people understand and manage a range of common mental health conditions including anxiety and depression.
Books are available for anyone to borrow from public libraries free of charge. They can also be recommended by health professionals including psychologists, GPs, IAPT psychological well-being practitioners, counsellors and other therapists as part of treatment. Although not part of the formal referral pathway, the scheme also helps people discover other library well-being services, including mood-boosting novels and poetry, and social reading activity such as reading groups.
Reading Well Books on Prescription is being delivered by an independent charity, the Reading Agency, working in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians, local library services and health partners, including the Department of Health, the BPS, and the Royal Colleges of General Practitioners, Psychiatrists and Nursing. The idea is not new; it builds on local best practice and a model developed in Wales by Professor Neil Frude, where there has been a national scheme in operation since 2005. It is, however, the first time library and health partners have come together to deliver a consistent, quality-assured approach across England, including a national expert-endorsed self-help booklist of 30 titles supported by user and prescriber guides.
The core book list (see tinyurl.com/pm7mlsr) was put together using an evidence-based approach, working within NICE guidelines and supported by a rigorous programme of consultation. The Society has played a prominent part in this process through the Health Partners Group, facilitating the inclusion of several books per area of difficulty, and highlighting that one style of writing does not suit all people sharing a particular problem.
An online prescriber toolkit provides all the information necessary to deliver the scheme, and printed leaflets including the core book list are available from local library services. The Reading Agency can help with putting interested prescribers
It is early days but signs are positive with 86 per cent of English library authorities signed up to the scheme and approximately 1600 local library prescribing partnerships in place with GPs, IAPT providers and independent counsellors and therapists. Self-referral is also emerging as a key characteristic with many people borrowing the books as a first step to self-help.
There is an ambitious development plan in place and fundraising is under way to support the next phase of work, which will see the book selection protocol and core list revised with partners for 2015, and the development of a targeted list likely to focus on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease ready to launch next year.
A library visit can be an important step on the road to recovery. Reading Well Books on Prescription begins an exciting new era of collaboration between libraries, national, and local health professionals, to improve the mental health and well-being of local people.
Elaine Iljon Foreman, Clinical Psychologist, Director, Freedom to Fly
Debbie Hicks, Director of Research and Strategy at The Reading Agency
I For more information on how to get involved, health professionals should contact their local library service or
The Reading Agency at [email protected] www.readingagency.org.uk/readingwell
The Society has signed up to support the AllTrials Campaign, which calls for all clinical trials to be registered and all results to be reported.
In signing up to the campaign, the Society stated it strongly supports the reporting of all trial outcomes and believes the dissemination of all research results, including those of ‘null hypotheses’ and ‘non-result reporting’, promotes greater impartiality of research, research methods and the wider adoption of ethical practice and guidance.
The international campaign, led by the British Medical Journal, Sense about Science and the Centre for Evidence-based Medicine amongst others, has received support from over 180 organisations including the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Physicians, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
The Society has received correspondence from members in support of the campaign and encourages members to sign up to the campaign via the AllTrials website (www.alltrials.net).
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