Jim Drewery 1927-2019

An appreciation from Maggie Cormack.

Jim Drewery, a Fellow of the Society and one of the pioneers of Clinical Psychology training in Britain, died in April this year. Jim began his psychology career with a first class degree at Aberdeen where he was a fencing blue. After a period of time as assistant lecturer at Queen’s in Belfast, he founded the Edinburgh course with Boris Semeonoff and later became Director of Psychological Research at Dumfries. In 1974, Jim was appointed Area Clinical Psychologist for Devon where he appointed heads of department in Torbay, Plymouth and North Devon, and headed up the Exeter department himself. There, he held a joint appointment with the University, and established the training course in Clinical Psychology, first as an in-service course and later, with Jim Orford, as an MSc.

Jim contributed to clinical training by instilling a deep and powerful passion about the role of Clinical Psychology as an important profession in its own right and separate from Psychiatry. He taught the practice and value of therapy, starting with the lived experience and distress of those who came to the service. At the time, this approach was very different from the more diagnosis-based approaches taught on other courses. Trainees were encouraged to explore what they brought from their own lives to the therapeutic encounter and thus Jim was an early advocate of reflective practice, which is now an essential component of training.

After his retirement in 1987, he continued with a small private practice and enjoyed a range of outdoor pursuits in the company of his wife, Janice Smith, a fellow clinical psychologist. His interests included sailing, fly-fishing, skiing, walking and travelling. Sadly, it was not long before his health began to fail and gradually his outdoor activities had to be abandoned. He was to have 15 years of an increasingly debilitating condition, during which time Janice cared for him unfailingly. In all that time, he remained stoical and vicariously enjoyed sport, particularly through watching cricket on television or listening to the commentary on the radio.

Jim’s legacy of combining caring with psychological insight will be remembered by many.

Maggie Cormack

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I remember Jim and Janice with great fondness. They were both very supportive when I first came to the South West as a young clinical psychologist.

I first met Jim,when,in about 1973 I joined the BPS Clinical Psychology Training committee,at that time chaired by May Davidson in Albermarle street.I was only a very junior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry but apparently at this time the Institute was entitled to a representative; no more senior member of the department seemed interested.Jim immediately made me feel welcome and encouraged me to join in the interrogation of the very senior representatives of the then SW Thames in-service training scheme.They were seeking approval to transform it into the University of Surrey course.
We subsequently carried out a number of convivial accreditation visits .He was a delightful man,and never let his doubts about my "Maudsley" orientation interfere with a very rewarding friendship.