Society

New disability guidelines; report from the Policy Support Unit; and lifetime achievement award

New disability guidelines THE British Psychological Society has published a new report Clinical Psychology Training and Disability: Information, Guidance and Good Practice Guidelines. Published jointly by the Training Strategy Group, the Division of Clinical Psychology and the Professional Practice Board, it makes 12 recommendations for how the Society and its subsystems need to respond to the challenge of enabling people with disabilities to train as clinical psychologists. Written by Dave Harper (University of East London), Alison Rowlands (NHS Education for Scotland) and Sheila Youngson (University of Leeds), the report begins by setting out the legal and policy context for clinical trainers.

New disability guidelines

THE British Psychological Society has published a new report Clinical Psychology Training and Disability: Information, Guidance and Good Practice Guidelines. Published jointly by the Training Strategy Group, the Division of Clinical Psychology and the Professional Practice Board, it makes 12 recommendations for how the Society and its subsystems need to respond to the challenge of enabling people with disabilities to train as clinical psychologists. Written by Dave Harper (University of East London), Alison Rowlands (NHS Education for Scotland) and Sheila Youngson (University of Leeds), the report begins by setting out the legal and policy context for clinical trainers.
Both direct and indirect and intentional and unintentional discrimination are outlawed under the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act. If a person is able to do a job (provided reasonable adjustments are made to accommodate any needs arising from their disability) then it is unlawful to discriminate against them on the basis of their disability. Mental health problems are considered as a disability under the Act and so discriminating against a clinical psychology applicant on the grounds of mental health alone is unlawful.
The report outlines how selection has moved on from the much-criticised Clothier report (which followed the case of the nurse Beverley Allitt). The report notes that, in recent years, there has been an increase both in candidates declaring disabilities and in the number of applicants with disabilities being offered training places (although this may be partly due to new inclusive definitions of disability). However, overall, it seems that the number of people with disabilities applying to train is below what would be expected from the number of undergraduates declaring disabilities. The report recommends that the Society commission further research into this and supports calls for the use of positive role models in career guidance material.
Clinical psychology trainers have a legal responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of applicants and trainees with disabilities. The report notes that it is now unlawful to require trainees or other employees (e.g. assistant psychologists) to be car drivers unless the job is to be a driver. Instead the training programme and employer would need to consider whether a reasonable adjustment could be made (e.g. arranging placements accessible by public transport or taxis). The report identifies funding for such adjustments.
A number of training programmes have considerable experience of accommodating the needs of trainees with a range of disabilities (e.g. dyslexia, physical mobility problems, visual impairments and mental health problems) and the report gives best practice examples of the kinds of reasonable adjustments which can be made.
The report also includes an extensive list of resources which applicants, trainees, trainers and placement supervisors will find extremely helpful. For example, it lists a number of articles written by clinical psychologists with a range of disabilities (e.g. psychotic experiences, visual impairment, obsessive compulsive problems and head injury).
Dave Harper, the report’s lead author said: ‘We hope this report will help training programmes prepare more effectively to welcome people with a range of disabilities into the profession. People with disabilities have as much right as anyone else to train as clinical psychologists and, in addition, may well have competencies, skills, qualities and insights that other non-disabled people do not have as a result of their life experiences.’
The report is available from www.bps.org.uk/jkeb or by contacting Lynn Hartshorn at the Leicester office on [email protected]

From the Policy Support Unit

THE Policy Support Unit will have a regular column from now on, to include examples of consultations the Society has responded to or is preparing a response to, together with some general information about the work of the Unit.
We have developed two brief leaflets for those members wishing to contribute to Society responses to consultations: ‘Introduction to Responding to Consultations’ and ‘Responding to Consultations: Guidance for Lead Authors’. These leaflets provide step by step guidance, and have already been circulated to those most commonly involved. They will be added to www.bps.org.uk/consult, and copies are available on request from the PSU (e-mail: [email protected]; tel: 0116 252 9926).
On average around eight responses to consultations are prepared each month by Members on behalf of the Society. Past responses and details of all consultations currently under consideration are provided on our web pages. Current policy is that only one response is submitted in the Society’s name to any consultation, and it is therefore very important that as many viewpoints as possible are taken into consideration. We would encourage anyone interested in contributing to Society responses to consultations to contact the PSU.
Several recent consultations have focused on the needs of children. The Department for Education and Skills set out a radical package of proposals for transforming the lives of children in care. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) explored the scope of two sets of guidance to be produced: one in relation to the promotion of mental well-being in children in primary education (using targeted activities) and the other on the indications for suspecting child abuse. Finally, attempting to reduce adverse effects of legal and court processes on relations between separating parents and their children, the Department of Constitutional Affairs proposed separate representation for those children who become the subject of family proceedings.
The Society’s responses to these consultations all included recommendations for increased breadth: either in the scope of proposed guidelines, or the range of suggested interventions, or both.

Personality disorder Launch Conference

A conference surrounding the Society’s ‘Understanding Personality Disorder’ report (see www.bps.org.uk/pers and www.bps.org.uk/kpfq) is scheduled to take place in Manchester in June 2007. Talks and workshops will provide a psychological analysis of the skills and competencies needed to develop a skilled workforce in Forensic and General Mental Health service.Please contact the Professional Practice Board Administrator Nigel Atter ([email protected]) for more information, and to register interest in attending.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Mr Ian Gray has been awarded the Professional Practice Board Lifetime Achievement Award 2006. This new Society award recognises and celebrates unusually significant sustained contributions in a career as an applied psychology practitioner.Mr Gray was nominated by former colleagues and because, as described by one nominator, Dr Jennifer Ashcroft, ‘he has dedicated a large part of his working life and a large part of his private time to matters that have helped to shape the profession’.
Mr Gray gained a BA (Hons) in psychology from the University of Strathclyde in 1969 before completing an MSc in clinical psychology in 1971. He was appointed joint Head of Clinical Psychology Services and joint Director of Lancashire Clinical Psychology Course from 1981 to 2001. Since then he has been the joint Head of Course and Clinical Director, Lancaster University Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology.
He has held highly influential positions both with respect to the delivery of NHS clinical psychology services and with the provision of clinical psychology training in Britain. Whilst employed as joint Head of Clinical Psychology Services and Director of Lancashire Clinical Psychology Course he has overseen the successful growth and development of local NHS services and clinical training. During this time, the training of clinical psychology has evolved from a master’s degree or a BPS diploma to a three-year doctoral training. The Lancashire course started as a small in-service training course, whereas now it is one of the major training centres for clinical psychology in the North of England.
His influence has not been restricted to clinical psychology; he has had an impact on professional applied psychology generally. His work with Tony Lavender on surveying for the first time the provision of applied psychology within health, social care and prison settings helped focus government thinking on workforce issues for the whole of applied psychology, and will result in the publication of the first English Survey of Applied Psychologists.
His major contributions to national developments also came from his many and varied Society roles and responsibilities. He has provided careful and impartial advice to the purchasers of clinical psychology training over the years, been an author of a highly influential briefing paper on clinical psychology within the NHS and has continually sought to examine the process of selection for clinical psychology training courses and conducted research and reports on how to improve the selection procedures.
Recently Mr Gray has been aiding and supporting the profession of psychology by co-authoring Continuing Professional Development for Clinical Psychologists with Laura Golding.
One of Mr Gray’s nominators, Professor Tony Lavender, stated: ‘I consider that Ian Gray has made an outstanding contribution to clinical psychology and the work of the Society. I cannot think of anybody more deserving of the Lifetime Achievement Award.’

Ethics Column No.9
TEACHING RESEARCH ETHICS
Teaching ethics is time consuming, students dislike it, and it doesn’t make them ethical. So why bother? In order to answer that, I need to explain how I ended up teaching research ethics.
My area of research involves the neuropsychological and behavioural assessment of older adults. Between 1993 and 2001 I was the manager of a Memory Disorders Clinic (MDC) and Research Centre in the South of the UK, which jointly offered diagnosis and management of cognitive impairment and dementia, and conducted clinically relevant research. As part of this role, I acted as gatekeeper for external researchers wishing to access participants, as well as directing or facilitating many of the research centre’s in house projects. This role brought me face to face with my own moral compass.
What bothered me about some of the project ideas presented to us were generally subtle risks. I was concerned that testing would be too tiring, that failure on a series of tasks might lead to distress, that participants would be embarrassed if they could not answer even seemingly trivial questions, such as their date of birth. As a clinician, my responsibility was to help my students and collaborators to manage these risks with greater care and sensitivity, for the benefit of the participants. As a researcher, I realised that only through timely and appropriate management of such risks would the data that we collected truly represent the opinions or behaviours or capacities of the participants being tested. In communicating my concerns, I sometimes met with resistance. So began my foray into communicating about research ethics.
Since 2001, I have been involved in teaching research ethics more formally to postgraduate students. They tend to admit that they see the completion of ethics applications, particularly NHS ones, as an impediment to their research, not as integral to it. I opted for a very pragmatic approach to teaching ethics: workshops (Bucks & Maguire, 2005: download a PDF of materials from http://tinyurl.com/3d2oy5) giving students a concrete opportunity to verbalise and then discuss their ethical knowledge in a supportive group environment. Students take on roles within an ethics committee and then consider anonymised case studies.
There is no doubt that students find the workshop challenging, but they also report finding the session both surprisingly enjoyable and empowering. Anecdotally, they report surprise that reading other people’s research is far more difficult than they had expected, plus they generally resolve to write their own applications in a more ‘user-friendly’ way in future, making the ethical aspects of their research and their responses to these much more explicit. Whilst we have not yet formally evaluated the workshop, there is evidence that using case studies in research ethics with students is an effective way of improving their understanding and application of ethical issues to their own research practice.
A final note: as part of the sessions, I ask my students to put their hands up if they have not read the BPS Code of Ethics and Conduct (see www.bps.org.uk/code). Every time, a significant minority of honest souls raise their hands. Most assure me that they will now do so; that it had not seemed particularly relevant previously. At risk of being provocative, I wonder what the response would be from their supervisors.
Romala Bucks

Further reading:
Keele University offers training for research ethics committees (www.keele.ac.uk/depts/pk/ret.html) but also has online resources for teaching research ethics. See also www.poynter.indiana.edu/tre/resources.shtml.
The Higher Education Academy Ethics Project: tinyurl.com/2rg2fz.
Balogh, D.W. (2004). Teaching ethics across the psychology curriculum. Available at www.psychologicalscience.org/teaching/tips/tips_0902.html

 

 

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