President’s column; Presidents’ Award; accreditation; journals success; and more

President’s column

Contact Sue Gardner via the Society’s Leicester office,
or e-mail: [email protected]

The Society’s information technology has been upgraded in stages over the last few years, and we are just months away from having the new system fully in place. There are already several developments capitalising on the increased functionality.

On p.960, you can read about the Learning Centre and the developing e-Learning opportunities. The first offering will consist of six new courses in business and management skills that have been tailored for psychologists. There are now over 50 continuing professional development (CPD) events or courses in the Learning Centre catalogue, with more planned. In response to your requests there are to be more courses on topics of interest across member networks to bring people from research, applied and academic backgrounds together. There will also be more courses for those who are self-employed or in small businesses, as interest in these areas is increasing. The Learning Centre web pages have had more than 50,000 hits since they began operating in April of this year. For more information about Learning Centre CPD courses see, and to offer ideas for courses please contact Christine Grant, the Learning Centre Manager, on [email protected].

To help you organise and monitor your CPD you can use the myCPD service, the online planning and recording system. This system has recently been redesigned and offers a personalised homepage as well as now being open to all members. For those members who are, or hope to be, registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC) the new system provides a convenient way to keep track of your professional development and will make a submission to the HPC easier if you are asked to do this as part of their auditing processes. There are now nearly 16,000 myCPD users who also benefit from the support of the CPD Helpline team. For more information contact [email protected] or call the CPD Helpline on 0116 254 9568.

In general terms our communications are experimenting with web delivery. You can access a digital edition of the October edition of The Psychologist at – more than 160,000 readers across the world have already done so. The Research Digest recently celebrated its 150th e-mail edition (see p.922), and its associated Twitter feed at is growing in popularity. The feedback we receive on both services is mainly very positive.

Being positive, particularly in education, was the issue discussed by Martin Seligman at this year’s joint British Academy/British Psychological Society lecture entitled ‘Positive Education’ (see p.918). He gave an inspiring overview of his findings, experience and learning over several decades. He is engaged with several countries in changing whole systems of education to encompass positive approaches, and there are several UK projects attempting something similar. There have recently been Society responses made to government consultations on New Horizons, subtitled ‘Towards a shared vision for Mental Health’, and the HPC consultation about the registration of Counsellors and Psychotherapists. The Society wants to collaborate with the HPC in finding a way for HPC-registered practitioner psychologists to be able, where appropriate, to have dual registration as psychotherapists. We are also working towards the accreditation of psychological therapists delivering Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. The Society is contributing to the IAPT programme’s development of proposals for accrediting Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) training and is developing it’s own mechanisms for accrediting individual PWPs and other IAPT workers. The PWP workers were formerly known as Low Intensity Workers and many of them are psychology graduates.

The recent Representatives Council where all the Trustees, Officers and member networks met included a discussion of how best to empower this group. The ideas generated will be sent out for wider consultation. We need to ensure that members are at the heart of all we do as part of developing psychology. Finally, keep an eye out for a brochure in your new 2010 member renewal pack. It contains details of a programme of new membership benefits, which demonstrates our commitment to adding to the value of your Society membership.

Presidents’ Award 2009
Professor Dominic Abrams and Professor Jon Driver

The Presidents’ Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychological Knowledge 2009 has been jointly awarded to Professor Jon Driver of University College London, and to Professor Dominic Abrams, Director of the Centre for the Study of Group Processes at the University of Kent.

The Society’s Presidents’ Award is given to acknowledge the distinguished achievements of psychologists currently engaged in research of outstanding quality. 

Jon Driver is a Royal Society Anniversary Research Professor at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the Wellcome Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL. Nominated by Professors Uta Frith, Stephen Jackson and Steve Tipper for his ‘prolific and influential research; the high impact and international standing of his work; and his recognised leadership’, Driver’s contribution to the discipline is undeniable. During his time as Director of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, he has done much to bring psychological approaches to bear upon neurological deficits and neuroscience issues. His research has an unusually broad and interdisciplinary range including human perception, multisensory integration, selective attention and spatial cognition.

Driver is recognised as a pioneer who uses an original combination of psychophysical, neuropsychological, neuroimaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) methods to make important discoveries about the neural processes that mediate higher cognitive systems. His ongoing work using TMS to modulate brain activity which is then observed using fMRI, provides a new causal approach to understanding how extended networks of interconnected brain regions can support cognition. This method has revealed dynamic interplay between brain areas. From over 250 scientific publications, his studies into the multisensory integration of vision, hearing and touch are probably best known.  

As well as making a substantial contribution to scientific understanding, Driver’s work has also been of direct value to patients suffering from disabling cognitive deficits as a result of selective brain injuries, such as spatial neglect syndrome. In their nomination, Professors Frith, Jackson and Tipper added that: ‘His work revealed substantial residual unconscious processing in these patients, hitherto unsuspected. Driver then developed new ways to exploit this residual function to bring back previously ignored information into the patients’ awareness. This work thus had practical and clinical significance’.

On receiving the award, Professor Driver said: ‘I am honoured to have my research recognised in this way by the BPS. It very much reflects on the brilliant colleagues and collaborators that I have been so fortunate to work with at UCL and elsewhere over many years.’

Professor Dominic Abrams, the joint winner of the 2009 Presidents’ Award, has made a significant contribution in the field of social psychology during the last 25 years, having published 100 refereed journal articles and nine books (including Social Identifications, which is still in print almost 20 years on). This body of work illustrates the wide range of Professor Abrams’ interests, from experimental social psychology to gerontology and health psychology, however he is probably best known for his work on the enduring and influential social identity theory.

In 1990 Professor Abrams founded the Centre for the Study of Group Processes at the University of Kent, which is now a thriving international research community dedicated to the social psychological aspects of group and intergroup relations. In her nominating statement, Dr Georgina Randsley De Moura described how Professor Abrams has always focused on how his research can be applied to real social issues. ‘His work is firmly grounded in social psychological theory and also strongly directed to issues and populations with important practical and applied applications. He designed, analysed and reported the first national surveys on ageism and also directed the first national survey of prejudice.’ His focus on current social issues has led Professor Abrams to present to audiences including the Labour Party Conference (2005), and the Prime Minister Gordon Brown at his Forum on the Family (2007). His work has also influenced political policy.

Professor Abrams told The Psychologist: ‘Social psychology is at a complex crossroads between the psychological and social worlds. It offers important theories and methods for the systematic explanation of important phenomena such as prejudice, discrimination and political and social engagement. Early influences on my work came from Tony Manstead, Hilde Himmelweit, Geoffrey Stephenson, Kevin Durkin and Rupert Brown, as well as my peers Mark Bennett, Susan Condor and Michael Hogg. My students and collaborators have tried to sustain their emphasis on testing and extending social psychological theory while at the same time addressing problems of real and practical significance.
‘I am delighted and honoured to receive this distinguished award, and am hugely grateful to all my colleagues and students who have shared and engaged with my work over the years. This award reflects their work and accomplishments as much as mine.’

Both winners of the Award for Distinguished Contributions were given life membership of the Society and a commemorative certificate.

Joanna Colburn

Special General Meeting 2010
A Special General Meeting will be held on Friday 22 January 2010, 12 noon, at 30 Tabernacle Street, London EC2A 4UE to announce the result of the membership ballot for President 2011/2012.
No electoral voting or other business will take place at this meeting. 
Professor Pam Maras
Honorary General Secretary



Excellent outcome!
We received notification during September of the outcomes of the Society’s responses (submitted in December 2008 and March 2009, respectively) to Skills for Health’s consultations on its draft National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic Therapies. Not only have most of the points raised in respect of particular standards been addressed, but also, crucially, Skills for Health has agreed to publish the entire suite of NOS for Psychological Therapies (which will also include those for family and systemic therapy and for humanistic therapy) in a single document with an overarching introduction highlighting the architecture and meta-competences underpinning the NOS.

The Society would like to congratulate all those who were involved in writing the responses to these consultations on such positive results.

Responses submitted in September 2009
Coincidentally, the Society’s response to Skills for Health’s draft NOS for Humanistic Therapy, was submitted in September. In the light of the above outcome, we are optimistic that the key concerns raised in the response will be addressed – the lack of explicit reference to the philosophical tradition within which humanistic therapy is embedded; and the use of terms and concepts derived from alternative paradigms of psychological practice.

The Department of Health’s draft document A Better Future: A Consultation on a Future Strategy for Adults with Autistic Spectrum Conditions is its first-ever strategy aimed at supporting adults with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC) to live life as full and equal citizens. Society members supported the five themes identified as key (health; professional training; social inclusion; employment; and choice and control) but raised the following issues for consideration:
I    the strategy will need to address the wide range of needs and service responses associated with such a diverse group of adults;
I    very few services have been commissioned for anyone with ASC other than those who also have a learning disability – and these have often been hampered by short-term funding, despite positive outcomes having been demonstrated;
I    psychologists have played a major role in developing effective approaches to supporting people with ASC and there are many examples of positive outcomes;
I    local 'assessment services' are recommended to be developed;
I    the evidence-base about the types of support that are effective for people with ASC, needs to be translated into a framework of commissioned services;
I    greater emphasis would be welcomed on workforce training, early identification of need, and early support.

The remaining consultations responded to in September concerned inspections of children’s centres (Ofsted); self-harm (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) and violence against women (Welsh Assembly Government). Full details of all of these, as well as those outlined in brief above are available via our website:
The preparation and submission of the Society’s responses to consultations on public policy is coordinated by the Policy Support Unit (PSU). All members are eligible to contribute to responses and all interest is warmly welcomed. Please contact the PSU for further information ([email protected]; 0116 252 9926/9577). Details of active and completed consultations are available at:

History website

The Society’s History of Psychology Centre (HoPC) has launched a new website ( The site has been designed to reflect HoPC’s three main areas of activity – collections and archiving; history and research; outreach and education. It is packed with information about the history of the Society, collaborations with other major institutions, the Society’s library, HoPC’s seminar series, and of course the Society’s archive holdings.Peter Dillon-Hooper, HoPC’s manager, is asking for members to contribute in all sorts of ways, including donating material for the archive, volunteering to interview people (or to be interviewed) for the Oral History Project, supplying missing information about BPS publications, and identifying mystery photographs.
HoPC is aiming to develop useful online resources for historians of psychology. Peter hopes the history of psychology community will benefit from using the site as a means of sharing information – for example, about research funding opportunities, events listings, other UK psychology collections, external online resources, postgraduate programmes. He is also keen to post up any historical material that can be made available, particularly articles on aspects of the history of Society; for example, the history of individual member networks (at the moment there is only a history of the Developmental Section).
Soon also to be available on the website is an online catalogue, which will make the collections much more accessible to researchers – not only the Society’s administrative archives, but also the collections of individual psychologists’ papers and much more besides.
I    For more information, to comment or make suggestions, contact Peter Dillon-Hooper on 0116 252 9528 or e-mail [email protected]

Accreditation through partnership

The Society has launched a consultation on its proposed new way of working with education providers and their students: accreditation through partnership. Sue Gardner, President, said: ‘We are pleased to present a new model of engagement that builds on existing good practice to promote quality enhancement. Accreditation through partnership reflects a number of key features that our university partners have told us they value:
I    a clear emphasis on a standards-based approach, focusing on outputs to protect academic standards and delivery in psychology education and training;
I    an approach based on partnerships and collaboration between education providers and the Society, rather than on inspection, to facilitate the positive and creative development of the discipline;
I    reduced administrative burden through greater emphasis upon streamlining, by using existing documentation and education providers’ own internal monitoring processes;
I    clarity of purpose and avoidance of duplication with other quality assurance processes; and
I    an approach that focuses on the development of transferable skills to support the enhanced employability of psychology graduates.

The purpose of the consultation is to invite feedback on our proposals before commencing pilot activity in early 2010, and formally launching accreditation through partnership in September 2010.

Professor Verity Brown, Chair of the Association of Heads of Psychology Departments (AHPD), said: ‘Accreditation should be about what students need – namely, easy identification of a good-quality programme that will prepare them for further training or employment as a practitioner psychologist. We welcome the shift away from scrutiny and inspection towards partnership in delivery of this aim.’ 

For further information, and to respond to the consultation, please see The consultation is open until 14 December 2009.

Psychology in the Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Government has come under pressure to release a report they commissioned on applied psychology in NHSScotland. The call came from the Conservative Party health spokesperson in the Scottish Parliament, Mary Scanlon MSP, when she hosted a seminar at Holyrood on psychology in the NHS in Scotland.

A dozen MSPs attended the event, organised by the Division of Clinical Psychology Scotland, which brought together psychologists and representatives from other professions and user organisations.

The report on psychology within NHSScotland was commissioned by ministers last year. It is understood that it was submitted by its author, Tony Wells, Chief Executive of NHS Tayside, in the spring. MSPs said they had hoped it would be published sooner as they believe it will be valuable in mapping services to meet the ever-growing demand for clinical, health and counselling psychology in Scotland.

Host MSP Mary Scanlon welcomed the opportunity to meet a cross-section of psychologists working in Scotland’s NHS: ‘I thought that it was a success, and several MSPs who attended said that they found it very interesting,’ she said. ‘I am very pleased that the psychologists found it worthwhile.’ Ms Scanlon then went on to quote facts from the presentation on services to older people in a parliamentary debate on dementia the same week.

The issue of workforce planning was also raised by parliamentarians, who said they were concerned about the time taken for specialist psychological reports to be completed. In evidence to the Health Committee at Holyrood earlier this year, the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, which runs the unique network of hearings to that combine child protection with youth justice, said young lives were being put on hold as they had to wait many weeks to get the reports they needed because there weren’t enough psychologists available
to meet the need.

Other MSPs talked of their continuing concerns about waiting lists within the NHS and heard of new ways of approaching the issue that have, in some areas, reduced the wait to a matter of days.

Ms Scanlon ran a straw poll of what guests at the Parliament would each include in their vision for psychology in NHSScotland in the future, leading to a wish-list of ideas for government, NHS boards and the profession itself.

Chair of the DCP in Scotland, Eunice Reed, said: ‘We set out to showcase what is happening across the age span, and across the many areas of our work in both mental and physical health, in the NHS in Scotland. I am delighted that MSPs spent so much time listening to us and cross-examining us on what we do – and what we can do as a profession in the future.’
John Macgill (Society’s
Policy Officer for Scotland)


Scottish conference

This year’s BPS Scotland Annual Conference and Postgraduate Conference, taking place Saturday 28 to Sunday 29 November at Apex Waterloo Hotel, Edinburgh, has the theme ‘Psychology across the lifespan’. Keynote speakers are Sue Gardner (British Psychological Society President), Dr Matthias Schwannauer (University of Edinburgh), Professor Chris Main (University of Keele), Professor Steve Stradling (Edinburgh Napier University), and Professor Ian Deary (University of Edinburgh).

There will be a scheduled open discussion on Saturday afternoon on ‘Psychology inspired policy making – the importance of understanding life stages’, led by Sue Northrop (Scottish Government).
I    For further information and how to book your place, see


New guidance on online services

Psychologists offer a diversity of services and resources over the internet, including consultation, counselling, therapy, specialist psychological information and online testing. Since the publication of the Society’s original guidance on the provision of such services, there have been major advances in information and communication technologies that have necessitated a revision of the guidance.

These newer technologies enable computers and mobile phones to become instruments for virtually instantaneous, high-quality text, audio and visual communication, with the capacity to record such content. Accompanying these developments are facilities to store and broadcast material captured by the new devices via various private and public websites.
The increasing availability of such functionality fundamentally changes and enhances the potential for delivering psychological services. At the same time, it introduces new challenges in maintaining ethical provision, a key focus of the revised guidance prepared for the Professional Practice Board by Professor Michael Berger and Dr Adrian Skinner of the Division of Clinical Psychology’s Informatics Committee.

The revised guidance introduces the idea of ‘mediated’ services to reflect the changed nature of internet-based communication – that psychologically, interactions can now seem instantaneous and more personal, with many of the benefits of face-to-face communication irrespective of distance, national boundaries, time and even language. While exploiting the newer functionality, psychology service providers also need to be wary of the ability of participants overtly or surreptitiously to record and broadcast content, and the ease with which those with malevolent intent can exploit vulnerabilities in systems and participants, even to the extent of setting up bogus websites to entrap users. The revised guidance identifies the many benefits that the newer technologies can bring to mediated psychological services and draws attention to the challenges and the special demands of such provision, as well as offering guidance and resources enabling Society members to address some of the key issues in providing ethical services over the internet.
I    The Provision of Psychological Services via the Internet and Other Non-direct Means – Revised Guidance can be obtained from (free to members).

E-learning courses launch

The BPS Learning Centre is pleased to announce that e-learning courses are now available for the first time. E-learning can help to enhance your employability and add to your CV. In these challenging times, professional and development has never been so important. If you are looking to brush up your knowledge and skills or update your portfolio then these can also count towards your HPC CPD.

The courses are aimed at all members, including those in training and members who may simply want to refresh their skills. E-learning is a very flexible form of professional development; it can be completed from your armchair and dipped into and out of when you choose. Six courses are being launched initially with others to follow. These new courses cover business and management skills, such as Leadership and Managing High Performing Teams, and informative courses, such as Data Protection and Freedom of Information.
The Society has negotiated a fantastic deal for members with packages of  e-learning courses that add further to  the discount, so the more you buy the cheaper it is. If you would like to book  or look up more information about these, then please look on the Society’s online Learning Centre webpages (

We do hope you will enjoy these new courses. If you have any feedback or ideas of courses you would like covered through BPS e-learning, then please do get in touch with our Learning Centre Manager Christine Grant at [email protected].

Learning centre
To have your CPD event approved by the Society and for a catalogue of forthcoming opportunities, see or call 0116 252 9512.
To advertise your event in The Psychologist, e-mail [email protected] or call +44 116 252 9552.
A diary of non-approved events can be found at

Journals success

The journals of the British Psychological Society are celebrating a record year with over £1.2 million journal sales (a 30 per cent increase in revenue over 2008) in a year of global recession. The net profit margin of over 70 per cent is re-invested back into the Society to ensure that it continues to thrive and provide more services for members.

2009 highlights included an overall impact factor rise with three journals reaching an all-time high; nearly two million hits last year for the online journals service; 30 per cent increase in pages/articles since 2005; an extra issue of the British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology due to its international popularity with authors; and the launch of a new monograph publication entitled Teaching and Learning Writing (see for order details). This year also saw the initiation of a partnership with the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications to make journals available to institutions in developing countries that cannot pay for subscriptions. To date, 70 institutions in 17 different countries have registered for online access.

Finally, a 2008 survey with over 4700 respondents found that 91 per cent rated the overall quality of the Society’s journals as good or excellent; 90 per cent of members felt that the journals were value for money (only £24/£17 for 2010); and 96 per cent of authors expressed high levels of satisfaction for post-acceptance processes. Exciting new plans are in place for 2010 involving online service enhancements and author loyalty schemes.

The Society would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the hard-working and dedicated reviewers and editorial boards who volunteer their time to support and contribute to the success of the Society’s journal operation

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