Psychological testing - taking the lead
THE Society’s Psychological Testing Centre (PTC) was launched in 2002 to consolidate activities within the Society relating to psychological testing. In 2003 the PTC launched its own website to support the growing demand for information about psychological testing from test users, test takers and members of the public. For those interested in any aspect of psychological testing, the PTC is the first point of contact.
Its mission statement is ‘To establish the Psychological Testing Centre as the leading national organisation for all matters relating to psychological testing and to set, promote and maintain standards in psychological testing’.
A team of five (in the office) act as the administrative hub of the centre, servicing committee activity and issuing certificates of competence in psychological testing. The office deal with numerous enquiries surrounding testing by letter, e-mail and telephone and feedback issues for consideration at regular committee meetings. The team is also responsible for the continuing promotion of the products and services offered by the PTC and regularly exhibit at Society conferences and external events such as Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) annual conference.
The committees consist of the following: the Steering Committee on Test Standards (SCTS), the PTC Executive Committee, the level A occupational verifiers, the level B occupational verifiers, the level A educational verifiers, the subgroup for tests in a health setting and the test reviews editors. The role of SCTS, which is a steering committee of the Society’s Professional Practice Board, is to oversee policy and decision making whilst the PTC executive committee is responsible for operational issues. The verifiers groups ensure that standards are maintained in the assessment of individuals who deliver training courses in psychological testing, and the test reviews editors ensure that tests are consistently reviewed independently. Finally, the PTC websites editor writes article of interest for the site and assists in overseeing the content.
The Psychological Testing Centre promotes standards and good practice in psychological testing in occupational, educational and health settings. Certificates of competence are available in occupational and educational testing and a certification scheme for test use in a health setting is currently under development. Certificate holders are encouraged to join the Register of Competence in Psychological Testing (RCPT), which to date has over 7000 entrants. The PTC also offers a number of online directories including the directory of qualified testers and the directory of test publishers.
In addition, the PTC offers a unique service of independent test reviews which are published on the PTC website. Currently, over 100 tests have been reviewed by the Society. More recently, the PTC launched test registration inviting publishers to register tests that meet the relevant criteria. Tests that have been granted ‘registration status’ are issued with a certificate of registration and permission to use the PTC logo to promote the tests.
The SCTS continue to develop guidelines on a variety of issues relating to testing. These are available at www.psychtesting.org.uk and can be requested in paper form from the office.
How the PTC can benefit you
The Psychological Testing Centres aim is to meet the needs of those who take, develop, publish and administer tests for both psychologists and non-psychologists. Test publishers and developers can submit their test for review and registration, join the directory of test publishers to promote their services and participate in the test publishers and assessors online forum for discussion and debate. Test takers can contact the PTC for guidance and information on taking tests. Those who administer and use tests can apply for the widely recognised certificates of competence in psychological testing, join the register of competence and hold an entry on the directory of qualified testers. Competent test administrators and test users who are on the Register can keep in touch with wider developments in the field by receiving the publication Selection and Development Review, which is published six times a year.
The PTC online receives in excess of 400,000 hits per month, and is currently undergoing a major restructure to accommodate the increasing number of visitors to the site. The new site will have a fresh and modern look that resembles the Society’s main website, ensuring easier navigation and accessibility.
A certification scheme for Level A is currently under development for tests used in a health setting. It is expected that this will be initially available for trainees on doctoral training programmes in clinical psychology from 2007 but will be made more widely available thereafter.
To enable the PTC to operate more effectively and efficiently, a questionnaire will shortly be sent to all certificate holders asking how services can be improved. The results of the questionnaire will help shape future product development and customer service.
- For further information please contact the team on 0116 252 9530, e-mail [email protected] or visit our website at www.psychtesting.org.uk.
At a Special General Meeting in London on 29 September the results of a Society-wide vote were announced. Three resolutions requiring a simple majority were carried – to increase transfer fees to Associate Fellowship and Fellowship (57.6% in favour), to increase subscriptions (53.6%) and to sanction the title ‘Chartered Sport and Exercise Psychologist’ (70.1%). The resolution to allow the Trustees to set the level of annual subscriptions in future without a ballot narrowly failed to get the two-thirds majority it needed (66.0% in favour). Members can view the full results at tinyurl.com/g2jec.
Educational psychologist funding
The Local Government Employers (LGE) Steering Group met in September to discuss the funding of educational psychologist training. Members were told that the number of funded places available in 2007/8 would be reduced from the present 150 to 62 a year.
Sandra Dunsmuir, Chair of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Educactional and Child Psychology (DECP) said: ‘This is a result of the Local Government Association’s decision to end the top slice and the LGE’s lack of confidence that local authorities, in the resulting disarray, will return the funding to a central pool to support training as previously. This is despite the fact that 80 per cent of local authorities have agreed to return the funding for 2007/8.’
At September’s DECP conference, Dunsmuir urged delegates to write to their local MP to draw attention to the reduction in training places and the likely impact on children, young people and their families. The suggested letter warns of vulnerable children facing even longer waits to see an educational psychologist, psychological assessments not being completed within statutory deadlines, and training programmes closing as they cease to be financially viable. It also refers to a letter of concern from the Society President Ray Miller to the Secretary of State for Education, which received the reply that he was not minded to intervene.
Dr Myra Cooper
DR Myra Cooper has been awarded a Fellowship of the Society in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the advancement and dissemination of psychological knowledge and practice.Dr Cooper completed her undergraduate studies and her clinical psychology training in Edinburgh, and then went on to take a doctoral degree at the University of Oxford. She has been working in the field of eating disorders, especially bulimia nervosa, for 20 years, and it is in this area that she has made her most significant contribution. In her work, Myra Cooper applied methods from experimental cognitive psychology to the investigation of bulimia nervosa; these included the use of ‘thinking aloud’, the Stroop test and explicit memory tasks. Her work on the role of core beliefs in eating disorders has also been recognised as a significant new contribution to the knowledge base in this area.
Dr Cooper’s novel cognitive theory of bulimia nervosa, has also led to a new self-help treatment approach. This work has been published as a manual, which has been widely used and discussed by practitioners.
In addition to numerous scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals, Myra Cooper has also disseminated psychological knowledge to the wider public, mainly through her books. In teaching and training, she has played a significant role as supervisor, research adviser and trainer/consultant. Her pioneering role in setting up the Research Tutor Forum within the clinical psychology training community represents another important contribution to the profession.
Overall, Dr Cooper has made a major contribution to both the science and the practice of psychology: she has been an excellent example of the scientist -practitioner. The Fellowships Committee was happy to recognise these achievements by recommending her for Fellowship status within the Society.
Ethics Column No.7
Working with children and young people
All psychologists, indeed all professionals, have a fundamental duty to safeguard the children they work with (see the Society’s statement on child protection). The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) gives children a set of comprehensive rights, including the right to have their views heard and taken into account on all matters that affect them, the right to play, rest and take leisure, and the right to be free from all forms of violence.
The Society’s Code of Ethics and Conduct draws attention to the need for informed consent and the respect of the individual. An adult with parental responsibility needs to give consent for the involvement of a psychologist on behalf of their child. The unevenness of power, size and understanding between children and adults makes it difficult for a child to give consent. Nevertheless, it is important that the child understands that they are the focus of concern. The right of the parent to determine whether their child should receive the services of a psychologist is subject to consideration of ‘Gillick competence’ (further elaborated in the Code of Ethics and Conduct), where a child has the right to make the decision if they have enough understanding and ability to fully understand what is proposed.
Psychologists working with children will very often be working with a wide range of people around the child as part of a multi-agency team. It is necessary that the child and the parent/carers understand that information may be shared and why this is needed, and give their agreement to this. This holds for all psychologists working with children, whether in a health service or local authority context or when the psychologist is working independently. The services of independent psychologists are generally commissioned by parents or the child’s school, often in the mistaken expectation that information will not be shared. It is necessary to clarify that information may be shared and to seek agreement to this before the work begins.
The guidance issued as part of the Children Act 2004 on sharing information (Information Sharing: A Practitioners Guide, 2006) gives six clear points relating to this.
- You should explain to children and young people at the outset, what and how information will, or could, be shared and why, and seek their agreement. The only exception is where to do so would place the child or adult at increased risk of significant harm or if it would undermine the prevention or detection of a serious crime.
- The safety and welfare of a child must be considered when making decisions relating to sharing information.
- The wishes of the child or families who do not consent to information being shared must be respected, except where your judgement is that the facts suggest there is a need to override their lack of consent.
- You should seek advice when you are uncertain about the possible significant harm to a child or serious harm to others.
- Information shared should be up to date, accurate and necessary for the purpose for which it is being shared. It should be shared only with those who need to see it and it should be shared securely.
- The reasons for your decision whether to share information or not should always be recorded.
The primary ethical issues to consider when working with children are ensuring that the adult with parental responsibility for the child has given informed consent for the involvement of a psychologist, and to maintain a balance of maintaining confidentiality and sharing information in the interests of the child’s safety and security. When considering the balance of confidentiality and the need to share information respect for the child and the child’s safety are of primary importance.
A Special General Meeting will be held on Friday 8 December 2006 at 10am in Room 10, 30 Tabernacle Street, London EC2A 4UE to announce the result of the membership ballot for President 2008/9.
No electoral voting or other business will take place at this meeting.
Professor Ann M. Colley, Honorary General Secretary
The Society’s Policy Response Unit continued its work throughout September and October, with members contributing to responses on topics as diverse as dementia, domestic homicide, smoke-free premises, supporting intimidated witnesses, ethical issues related to public health, the EU strategy on sustainable energy, the under-age sale of tobacco.
For more information see www.bps.org.uk/consult.
NEWS OF MEMBERS
Fotios Anagnostopoulos has been appointed assistant Professor of Health Psychology at Panteion University, Athens.
Hugh Foot retired in September and Daryl Foot earlier this year in January. They will continue to live in Glasgow and to maintain their BPS membership, and hope to keep in touch with colleagues and the many friends made during their careers in psychology.
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