Society

Including President’s column, Strategic Plan 2010–2015, Spearman Medal 2009, May Davidson Award and more

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

On 1 July the statutory regulation of applied psychologists was taken on by the Health Professions Council. Like other applied psychologists who were members of one of the seven Divisions to be registered, my name was automatically transferred on to the HPC register and a week later I received a letter from the HPC confirming this. There is still some confusion about using titles, about which we are seeking advice.

I also received a letter and booklet from the Society promptly after 1 July which described Chartered Psychologist status and the advantages of both this membership grade and of Society membership. The booklet offered vignettes from a range of applied psychologists but did not include examples from Counselling, Educational, Occupational, Neuropsychology or Teachers and Researchers. (Members of the Division of Teachers and Researchers will not be on the HPC register but will be among those who can be chartered). There are also nearly 3000 Chartered Psychologists who are not members of a Division and they were not mentioned either. We all like to see ourselves being mirrored in promotional material and all the applied psychologists should have seen themselves represented, which in future we will endeavour to ensure. The online version of the booklet is being amended to give examples from all Divisions. Thank you to those who sent in comments about the booklet as all feedback is useful. A new communications plan is being drawn up by the Publications and Communications Board on behalf of the Trustees.

We have said goodbye and thank you to the four staff who dealt with Regulatory Affairs and to those who served on the Investigatory Committee and Professional Conduct Board. The Professional Conduct Board (PCB) Chair, Joop Tanis, has also served as a Trustee and his wise counsel will be missed. All the people involved have given their time and experience
to helping us regulate members over many years. They have done great work and we are sad to see them go. I would especially like to thank the lay members who are not psychologists but who brought a range of skills, knowledge and expertise to help us to look constructively yet critically at ourselves. This was a difficult task which had to be completed carefully and thoroughly. The Society received around 120 complaints each year, mostly about applied psychologists, of which approximately 78 per cent were deemed after consideration to have no case to answer, 11 per cent resulted in letters of advice to the member(s) involved and the remaining 11 per cent went on to PCB hearings. These hearings also found that in some cases there was no misconduct, but for the majority of cases there was either advice given or sanctions applied. Each year a small number of members were expelled from the Society.

The HPC now undertakes this role and has the authority in law to strengthen the process for better protection of the public. We will help the HPC in any way they request, but they are an independent organisation as are we. The Society will be monitoring members’ experiences and we aim to conduct an online survey in January 2010. It seems to me that we have reached the end of a significant piece of work and we can now take stock of where we are and which direction we want to take for the future.

What do we know about the future? We know that we need to provide better services for our members. Like other organisations that have faced external regulation, we have had a surge of additional applied members prior to 1 July and we want to keep these new members as well as those who have been loyal and committed over several years. Understandably, many people who are undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers and academics have perhaps seen statutory regulation as taking time, energy and resources on an issue of little or no relevance to them.

However, regulation is an important issue for graduates of university courses who may be wanting to become applied psychologists. Everyone involved in education will therefore welcome the Society’s efforts to achieve the best outcome possible. We can now use our resources for all of the membership and build on our considerable strengths (and the hard work of academics and researchers) to promote the science of psychology.

The Board of Trustees has, after consultation, finalised the Strategic Plan for 2010 to 2015 and it is printed in full on this page. As Trustees we have agreed that our two priorities are firstly to reinforce our strengths and maximise our impact as a Learned and Professional Society, and secondly to increase the accessibility of psychology to all. Hopefully these directions will unite the academic and applied aspects of the discipline.
For example, you will be interested to know that the Society is looking at ethical issues and the media. John Oates from the Ethics Committee is working with the Department of Children, Schools and Families on a review of regulations governing children’s participation in stage, TV, cinema and modelling performances.
In addition, John is working with Fiona Jones from the Media and Press Committee and a group including members from both committees, to look at further improving the support we offer to colleagues working with the media.

On 16 June the Society held a Parliamentary Seminar on Alternatives to Custodial Sentencing chaired by Alan Simpson MP, who is Chair of the Westminster All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Sciences and Policy. The seminar included senior figures from several organisations including the University of Oxford, the Prisoners’ Education Trust and the Howard League for Penal Reform, and focused on the current challenges
of installing a system of evidence-based alternatives to custodial sentencing. A briefing on this topic was written by a Society-sponsored graduate fellow. Copies of this can be downloaded from: tinyurl.com/postpn).
These activities are just a few of the examples of ongoing work linking science and practice. We hope that each member network and Board will identify their own priorities and how we can all work together on the plan over the next five years. I have been attending Board meetings to better understand the issues. Now that we are no longer a regulatory body, we can use our resources in different ways. We may even come to see that statutory regulation changed things for the better for everyone in the Society. 

 

Learning Centre
To have your CPD event approved by the Society and for a catalogue of forthcoming opportunities, see www.bps.org.uk/learningcentre 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 www.bps.org.uk/diary.

 

Strategic Plan 2010–2015 

1.    Our Vision is:to promote excellence and ethical practice in the science, education, research, and practical applications of psychology.
2.    Our Core Purposes are:
2.1    To be the Learned Society and Professional Body for the discipline;
2.2    To make psychology accessible to all;
2.3    To promote and advance the discipline;
2.4    To be the authoritative and public voice of psychology;
2.5    To determine and ensure the highest standards in all we do.

3.     Our Strategic Objectives are:
3.1     To be the Learned Society and Professional Body for the discipline by:
1.    being a unified, open, inclusive, effective and efficient organization;
2.    enhancing the discipline wherever it is undertaken or advanced;
3.    including in membership all those eligible and interested;
4.    providing excellent publications and events;
5.    learning from, and contributing to, other disciplines, both within and outside the UK;
6.    providing relevant and value for money services which retain and attract members.
3.2     To make psychology accessible to all by:
1.    improving dissemination to all relevant audiences;
2.    inspiring people of all ages to engage with the discipline;
3.    helping people to fulfil their potential;
4.    listening to people who use our services.
3.3     To promote and advance the discipline by:
1.    supporting and disseminating the work of members;
2.    engaging with policy and decision makers, employers, funders of research, resource providers, and other organizations;
3.    promoting and publicising the provision of high quality evidence-based psychological services;
4.    providing high quality careers information;
5.    facilitating the collaboration of members and member networks.
3.4     To be the authoritative and public voice of psychology by:
1.    providing and disseminating evidence-based expertise and advice to the media, policy makers and the public;
2.    encouraging topical debates, both amongst members and in society;
3.    campaigning on our own, or with others, when the discipline has a contribution to make.
3.5     To determine and ensure the highest standards in all we do by:
1.    maintaining the appropriate benchmarking for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) and Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol);
2.    inspiring the highest ethical standards; an appreciation of the benefits of diversity; and, respect for all;
3.    working with partners to ensure education and continuing professional development of the highest quality;
4.    influencing and enhancing psychology curricula and their delivery wherever they are taught;
5.    promoting the highest standards in learning and teaching, professional practice and research;
6.    recognising and celebrating the highest standards and achievements.

 

CONSULTATIONS?ON?PUBLIC POLICY
Seven responses were prepared by Society members to consultations that closed in June, one each from the following consulting bodies:
I    Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)
I    Department of Health
I    Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for Northern Ireland (DHSSPSNI)
I    National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
I    Skills for Health
I    United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
I    Welsh Assembly Government

Brief details of a selection of these responses are provided below. Full details of the remaining responses, as well as of all other consultations responded to by the Society (including consultation papers and responses), those for which expressions of interest are currently being invited and those for which responses are under preparation, can be accessed via the Policy Support Unit’s web pages (www.bps.org.uk/consult).

The DCSF’s draft guidance on safeguarding children and young people who may be affected by gang activity was welcomed by the Society and was particularly commended for:
I    the formal recognition of the issue of gang membership/activity in safeguarding procedures;
I    the emphasis placed on children and young people having a dual role – victim and offender – which represents a move away from criminalising young people without due consideration of the complex factors involved in gang activity;
I    the emphasis placed on information sharing and multi-agency sharing in order to get real-time local information; and
I    the recognition of the importance of involving and working through children’s families.

The DHSSPSNI’s proposed action plan for acquired brain injury 2008/9–2010/11 was also viewed positively, with the Northern Ireland Branch noting that, if implemented and appropriately resourced, the proposed developments are likely to provide high-quality evidence-based neurorehabilitation across the region.

While the Ethics Committee acknowledged the considerable amount of work that must have gone into the preparation of the UKCP’s Code of Ethics and Conduct, it also raised concerns that the code appeared to have been drafted with little reference to similar codes of other professional bodies (with the exception of that of the Health Professions Council). This omission was identified as possibly underlying other concerns of the committee in relation to the draft code. In particular, the concern that it was not made clear whether the draft is primarily intended as a guide to practice or as a set of rules (‘Thou shalt not…’).

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: www.bps.org.uk/consult

Spearman Medal 2009

Dr Matt Field

The 2009 Spearman Medal has been awarded to Dr Matt Field from the University of Liverpool for the significant contribution he’s made to the understanding of cognitive processes in addiction and substance abuse in the eight years since attaining his DPhil.

Field’s 36 published papers amply demonstrate his eligibility to win the Spearman Medal, which recognises outstanding published work and a significant body of research produced in a psychologist’s early career. This body of work has also established him as a pioneering and influential researcher, and has directed the field of attentional bias and substance craving over the last eight years.

Dr Field has lectured at the University of Liverpool since 2004, where he has established himself as an influential researcher, publishing several papers on implicit cognitive processing biases in cannabis users, with a more substantial body of work investigating attentional bias for alcohol and smoking cues in heavy drinkers and tobacco smokers.

Nominating Dr Field for the medal, his Head of School at the University of Liverpool, Professor Ian Donald said: ‘Dr Field has produced a substantial and important body of genuinely innovative research, which has had a major impact and continues to contribute enormously to our theoretical models of addictive behaviour.’
One of Dr Field’s most significant and outstanding papers was his investigation into the possible role of attention in alcohol craving which he carried out in 2005. Dr Field trained participants to either direct their attention towards or away from alcohol-related cues then measured their subsequent subjective craving and alcohol-seeking behaviour. The finding that an experimental manipulation of attention for alcohol-related cues led to increased alcohol cravings and alcohol consumption provided evidence for a key role for attention in craving and drug-seeking behaviour.

‘This was the very first study to demonstrate that attentional bias could have a causal influence on craving and drug-seeking behaviour. This finding has been widely cited since publication and will certainly be regarded as a seminal paper,’ said Professor Donald.
On receiving the accolade from the Society, Dr Matt Field said: ‘I‘m absolutely delighted to be selected as the recipient of the 2009 Spearman Medal. It’s an honour to have one’s research recognised in this way, and I hope that it will stimulate interest in cognitive processes in addiction, and encourage others to conduct research in this area.’

‘I am planning on exploring the development of cognitive processing biases and their relationship to drug-seeking behaviour in more detail. It seems that attentional biases may develop through a classical conditioning process, and once established, they may causally influence future drug use. However, the precise nature of this causal relationship is unclear, and it may be moderated by numerous other processes. By clarifying these processes, we can gain a clearer understanding of the mechanisms through which cognitive processes can be altered by, and can cause, drug use.’

May Davidson Award
Dr Sam Cartwright

Dr Sam Cartwright-Hatton from the University of Manchester has won this year’s May Davidson Award. May Davidson was a pioneer of clinical psychology in the early days of the National Health Service and died in 1982. Award is made by the Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology each year to a clinical psychologist who has made an outstanding contribution to the development of clinical psychology within 10 years of qualifying.

Dr Cartwright-Hatton is a senior lecturer in the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Manchester, and her research has concentrated on anxiety disorders in childhood. She has recently completed a four-year Medical Research Council clinician scientist fellowship during which she tested a new parenting-based intervention for young anxious children, a group who have been neglected by previous treatment approaches.

Dr Cartwright-Hatton said: ‘I am delighted to receive the May Davidson Award, which has many previous winners whose work I greatly admire. I take it as recognition of the importance of treating anxiety disorders in childhood. Not only do they cause considerable distress to children and families in themselves, they are known to be linked with problems like depression and substance misuse later in life.’As part of her award Dr Cartwright-Hatton will give a lecture at the Division’s annual conference. This will take place at the Congress Centre, 28 Great Russell Street, London WC1, on 9–11 December 2009. Further details of the event can be found on the conference website: www.dcpconference.co.uk

Transference-focused psychotherapy 

The Society’s Learning Centre will be running
an event at the Tabernacle Street office, London, on
2 November.

The treatment of borderline patients is one of the most challenging areas in mental health. Many clinicians are intimidated by the prospect, are pessimistic about the outcome, and consider stabilisation of symptoms, without deep change in the personality, the best possible outcome. However, an increasing body of clinical experience and research shows that transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP) can help these patients achieve character change.

Run by Frank Yeomans, Clinical Associate Professor at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, the course will include an overview of object relations theory, which provides a way to understand the psychological structure of the borderline patient. The course will then go on to describe the strategies, tactics and techniques used in carrying out the therapy.

I    For more information see www.bps.org.uk/learningcentre

 

No more cheques
At the June meeting of the Trustees it was agreed that from 1 July 2009 the Society will no longer pay members and creditors by cheque. In future, all payments will be made by electronic funds transfer. The Society has used this is a secure way to transfer money since the mid 1990s. Over 90 per cent of all Society payments are made by this reliable form of payment.

news from the boards
Publications & Communications Board  18 June 2009

I    Future meetings
It was agreed to consider doing more of the board’s business via ‘e’ means between scheduled meetings, especially report items, which are simply for noting.

I    Annual Conference
The board accepted a proposal from the Standing Conference Committee (SCC) to provide extra financial support for Annual Conference. This ‘subsidy’ in the past came from the Research Board, which used to oversee the SCC. This sum will be added into the budget request from this Board to the Trustees for the 2010 financial year.

I    BPS/British Academy Public Lecture
It was noted that speakers have now been selected for the next three years.

I    Journals
It was noted that nearly all of the Society’s journals were listed in the top 100 downloads from Ingenta, out of a total list of 10,000 journals hosted by Ingenta.

I    Psychologist Policy Committee
 It was agreed to extend the term of office of PPC members from three to five years to ensure continuity.

I    Press Committee
It was agreed to change the name to the Media and Press Committee.

I    Media Prize
It was noted that the Trustees would be considering the initiation of an annual Society Media Prize.

I    Broadcasting ethics
It was noted that in August a joint meeting is being held between representatives of the Media and Press Committee, the Ethics Committee and psychologist broadcasting experts to consider broadcasting ethics.

I    Website
It was noted that the Society’s website is about to undergo a significant redesign and agreed to discuss the ‘conceptualisation’ of the site at its next meeting.

New BJEP monograph

The Society has published a new monograph in the British Journal of Educational Psychology series. In common with previous volumes, the goal of this sixth contribution, based on a conference in 2007 at Oxford Brookes University, is to help ameliorate the loss of connection (especially within the UK) between psychological expertise and the teaching profession,
and thereby reinvigorate and reshape the research agenda.

In particular, the objective is to give researchers, teachers and related professionals direct and shared contact with a digest of cutting-edge work that has obvious educational application – focused in this case on learning to write, a crucial but comparatively neglected topic. The 2007 conference was a well-attended event that attracted an audience of researchers, postgraduate students and practitioners from a range of sectors, as well as the world-leading researchers who were making presentations. It was also successful in generating incisive exchanges of views between these groupings. The monograph provides versions of these original presentations that take these debates into account.

Writing is a complex skill, one that can be studied in many different ways. The monograph highlights recent psychological research on the teaching and learning of writing, within two broad and overlapping areas of interest. The first is concerned with charting performance and development in writing skills in typical and in special populations. In comparison with work on reading, our understanding of the cognitive processes underpinning writing and writing development is less well advanced, but there is now a firmer basis of research evidence. More detailed models of development are therefore being proposed, and previously common assumptions about the relationships between variables involved in the development
of writing are being openly questioned.

The second area is concerned directly with assessment, assistance and instruction in writing. More is now also understood regarding the educational demands of writing in the school environment. In particular, the monograph presents meta-analyses and meta-syntheses that detail a number of explicit recommendations for the teaching of writing, whilst recognising that there are a number of careful and commonsense caveats to be considered.
Implementation of these recommendations is assisted by the development of new and accurate assessment tools that enable practitioners to identify those with difficulties and plan appropriate support.

Taken overall, the monograph provides a powerful summary of the effective strategies that can be drawn upon to improve the writing skills of children throughout primary and secondary school, as well as clearly laying out the psychological understanding on which these strategies rest.

I    For further details please see www.bps.org.uk/bjepmonographs; to order a copy for £15, please contact Commercial Sales, tel: 0116 252 9551

 

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber