Presidents Column

Ray Miller signs off
‘Who knows where the time goes?’ Sandy Denny wrote the song in 1967, the ‘Summer of Love’. The sentiment remains as true today. The future advances on us inexorably and the only constant is change. It was hard to imagine, writing my first column a year ago, what it would be like writing my last.
‘Who knows where the time goes?’

Sandy Denny wrote the song in 1967, the ‘Summer of Love’. The sentiment remains as true today. The future advances on us inexorably and the only constant is change. It was hard to imagine, writing my first column a year ago, what it would be like writing my last.

It has been a challenging year with statutory regulation dominating much of the agenda. The Society demonstrated strength and unity in rising to these challenges. At the same time we have been developing a vision for the future in which the advancement, promotion and recognition of the contribution of psychology to society play an ever more important role. Change provides opportunities, and we must continue to seize them.

Some changes have far-reaching consequences. An example is the joint Society and National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) project, established in July 2005, under the title of ‘New Ways of Working for Applied Psychologists’ (NWWAP). It forms part of a wider UK exercise within the NHS looking at the changing roles of a number of professions. However, the outcomes may radically alter our approach to the training, development and employment of applied psychologists in many settings. The Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP), of which NIMHE is a part, has a remit covering a broad range of health and local government services. It extends to children, adults and older people, including those who have mental health problems, physical disability or learning disability, as well as health in criminal justice.

The NWWAP Group has focused on a number of areas where potential innovation offers fresh perspectives. For example, in the field of postgraduate training in applied psychology we might see the introduction of certificate, diploma and MSc levels to bridge the current gap between the undergraduate degree and doctoral-level qualifications. This could open up the presently arduous and daunting route that discourages many undergraduates considering an applied psychology career.

NWWAP is also considering alternative training models. For example, we might see a programme that brings together different branches of applied psychology for a common core of initial training. Evidence gathered from the Society’s occupational standards initiative shows significant overlaps in competence across Divisions.

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) is another work stream. Much attention has been given to the proposals of Lord Layard (The Psychologist, May 2006) for alleviating the social and economic costs of psychological distress. NWWAP has broader suggestions to offer on how to harness the emerging skills of a range of psychological therapists. In particular, there is emphasis on the role of applied psychologists in training, supervision and quality assurance.

Generally, it is envisaged that the contribution of psychologists will continue to grow and develop in many novel directions. There will be new levels of practitioner, delivering an extended range of services in varied contexts and settings. There will be a need for psychology leadership in organising and managing these services. This implies a career development programme that prepares psychologists to operate at the highest levels of management and strategic planning.

It is encouraging to see so many psychologists playing key roles in taking this work forward. I am very grateful for their time, energy and dedication. It demonstrates the proactive approach that ensures that the Society remains at the forefront of dynamic professional progress.

An interim report on NWWAP can be read at www.bps.org.uk/ppb. Views are still welcome and conclusions have not yet been finalised. There will be a launch of the final, multi-professional report on 25 April in Leeds. The Society is involved in arranging a conference specifically on the psychology component, on 20 July at the Walkers Stadium in Leicester, and I hope many of you will attend.

Before then we will, of course, have our own Annual Conference in York from 21 to 23 March. The programme is an exciting one, and I’m looking forward to a range of fascinating keynote speakers and events. York is one of my favourite cities. I have many times walked the walls, strolled through the narrow streets and winding lanes and visited the Minster. It isn’t too late to register! I look forward to meeting you there.

Just enough space left to mark the handover to my successor, Pam Maras. It has been a pleasure to have worked with her for a number of years on the Board of Trustees and I know I am leaving you in good hands. I wish her all the best.

No President can achieve anything alone. I’d like to acknowledge the help and support of the many Society staff, colleagues and members that have made my year not only possible but enjoyable.

Who knows where the time goes?

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