President’s column; lifetime achievement award; and more

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

Opening the curtains to a world made white by an overnight fall of snow still gives me a thrill. For a few days the fun of snowball fights and the novelty of relaxed routines can be welcome. After a week however, the ice and inconvenience begin to dim the magic. I hope that you were able to enjoy some of the recent weather and didn’t suffer too much from the conditions. It is interesting how priorities
shift when the world changes dramatically.

The Trustees and Senior Managers meet annually for an Away Day to set priorities for the Society over the coming months. We are entering a period of great change with a general election and a massive national debt on the home front, let alone the challenges that face us globally. The Away Day enabled us to discuss and agree actions focusing on our key concerns, including: the promotion of psychological science; membership recruitment and retention; strengthening the link between science and practice; and the development of our communications function. This last, but by no means least, concern is about enhancing the ways in which we disseminate psychological science and its applications to influence public agendas. We are also keen to improve our communications across Society structures.

Having established our priorities we then held a Board of Trustees meeting to ensure that the Society’s overall functioning was sound. The changes brought about by statutory regulation are still being completed. Among these are the new education governance system, which has been the subject of much discussion. It is important that we get this right so that there is a balance between setting and maintaining standards without burdening the courses and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) with too much additional bureaucracy. The new approach is about partnership rather than policing.

However, the Society is aware that standards in all walks of life are being eroded under the pressure to increase throughput and decrease costs, sometimes regardless of outcomes. Obviously we are not against efficiency but we take a longer-term view of quality, evidence and human behaviour. The HEIs in particular are feeling the strain. The Society will fight to support student staff ratios of 20:1, the retention of dedicated administrative support for the discipline and the availability of appropriate and dedicated laboratory facilities. We hope to reintroduce the system of liaison persons in HEIs with Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC) and accredited professional training courses where HEIs are interested in having such a link. In times of financial hardship training is an easy target for cuts, but this approach is short-sighted and bad for the future intellectual well-being of the country.

The Society has been invited to an annual review with the Health Professions Council as part of their routine communication with the regulated professions. Thank you for the comments on your experiences. There have been approximately 100 e-mails from individuals and member networks, all of which will be collated for our feedback. I will be attending the meeting along with Dr Gerry Mulhern, President Elect and Professor Ann Colley, the Society’s Chief Executive. I will let you know what transpires.

Finally, as a welcome reminder that good work happens all around us, there was a very pleasant lunch hosted by the Academy of Social Science to confer the award of Academician. This was attended by some of us linked to the Research Board. Several of those honoured were psychologists and among these was our Chief Executive, Ann. I hope that modesty does not prevent her from hanging the framed award in her room in the Leicester offices.

We are facing an uncertain future but the Society is working through the issues. We are very fortunate in having committed and articulate volunteers who do a tremendous job in running Sections, Divisions and boards as well as an array of various member networks. When we all agree on a course of action we can, and do, achieve our goals. One snowflake is hardly noticed but we have recently seen how powerful they can be in large numbers. 


learning centre
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Lifetime Achievement Award
Professor Stanley (Jack) Rachman and Professor Gisli Gudjonsson

The Professional Practice Board (PPB) has granted its 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award jointly to two highly respected members of the Society – Fellow of the Society Professor Gisli Gudjonsson CPsychol of the Institute of Psychiatry, and Associate Fellow Professor Stanley (Jack) Rachman CPsychol of the University of British Columbia, Canada.

This award recognises and celebrates unusually significant and sustained contributions in a career as a practitioner of applied psychology.

Professor Rachman is recognised as a leader in the research and treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder and other anxiety disorders. Dedicated to improving the lives of sufferers, Professor Rachman’s contribution to the development of clinical practice is marked.

In a career that has so far spanned five full decades he has had a major role in the development of behaviour therapies that have influenced not only the treatment of anxiety disorders, but also sexual disorders, aggression and alcoholism.

In the 1970s he was head of the clinical psychology training course at the Institute of Psychiatry, and more recently he has trained therapists in the latest treatments for OCD as part of the ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ initiative. In a supporting statement, Professor David Clark said: ‘Professor Rachman’s enthusiastic support of a new initiative and his desire to continue training the clinicians of tomorrow is absolutely characteristic.’

Professor Roz Shafran of the University of Reading summarised Professor Rachman’s contributions concisely in her nominating statement ‘His contributions are widely acknowledged to have shaped the current form of the practice of clinical psychology in the UK. He has made a fundamental and innovative contribution to the development of what has proved to be an effective therapeutic technique, has been responsible for widespread dissemination of treatment methods and has made a major contribution towards developing clinical psychology training that has become a model across the world. At all times, he has remained true to his empirical roots and evaluated his clinical work with the goal of improving patient outcome.’

Professor Rachman told The Psychologist: “I am deeply honoured by the award. My special subject is experimental psychopathology and I remain as fascinated by it as I was at the beginning of my career, 56 years ago. During these years I have been privileged to collaborate with an array of outstandingly talented psychologists, and in my estimation they too are honoured by this award.”

The other joint winner of the PPB’s 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award is Professor Gisli Gudjonsson, currently Professor of Forensic Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, and the Head of Clinical and Forensic Psychology in the Lambeth Forensic Services. A clinical and forensic psychologist, Professor Gudjonsson is best known for changing the legal landscape with regard to confession evidence.

Through his pioneering research into the measurement of interrogative suggestibility, Gudjonsson identified a range of important emotional and psychological factors that make people vulnerable to making false confessions under interrogation, developing the ‘Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale’ now used throughout the world to examine the reliability of this evidence.

His contribution to the role of psychologists as expert witnesses has also been globally significant. Gudjonsson’s personal expert testimony has been critical to the result of many high-profile cases in the UK, the USA and Norway.

In a supporting statement, journalist Bob Woffinden states: ‘There are many people today, across the world, who owe their freedom from wrongful imprisonment to the pioneering work of Professor Gudjonsson.’

Professor Til Wkyes further attests to this in her nominating statement; ‘Gisli is responsible for placing and keeping psychological factors in the real world where truth and justice have sometimes been misplaced.’Professor Gudjonsson is renowned for his unending dedication to developing psychological practice and ensuring that forensic psychology is better used in police work and the courts, and he has contributed significantly to the training of clinical and forensic psychologists, doctors, police officers and lawyers.

On receiving the award, Professor Gisli Gudjonsson said: ‘This was unexpected but most welcome. It represents recognition of the scientific development of forensic psychology to which many practitioners and researchers have contributed. There has been a huge expansion in forensic psychology since its early influential development by my mentor the late Professor Lionel Haward. I hope this recognition will be an inspiration to newly qualified clinical and forensic psychologists to contribute to a most challenging and rewarding speciality.” 

A diary of non-approved events can be found at



All members of the Society are invited to complete the annual Membership Survey. The survey can be completed online at: Alternatively, if you wish to receive a hard copy to complete, please contact Dr Lisa Morrison Coulthard ([email protected]).

This survey is intended to provide valuable insight into members’ needs, and specifically, their expectations and perceptions of how the Society is performing in key areas. Sharing your views will have a direct contribution to setting the Society's objectives and provide an improved understanding of where to focus our efforts better to meet the needs and expectations of members.This survey will measure the extent to which we are continually improving to meet (and wherever possible, exceed) those needs and expectations. The deadline for responses is 19 February 2010.

Thank you in advance for your participation. 


The preparation and submission of the Society’s responses to consultations on public policy is coordinated by the Policy Support Unit (PSU). At the time of writing, the PSU was about to close for the Christmas break so this seemed a good opportunity to give a brief summary of the consultations work that was conducted by the Society during 2009.

Responses were prepared to 89 consultations on public policy throughout the year and submitted to 34 bodies across the UK (including governments, non-government organisations and non-departmental public bodies). One response was submitted to the Royal Society (of which we are a member) for inclusion in their response to an international consultation. The regional spread of the remaining 88 consultations was as follows:

Regional base of    Number of
consulting body    responses submitted    (% of total)
England only    25    (28)
Northern Ireland only    11    (13)
Scotland only    5    (6)
Wales only    8    (9)
Two or more of the above    39    [44]
TOTAL    88    [100]

It was only possible for the Society to submit these responses because of the work put into this area of activity by almost 230 members of the Society. Those who contributed represented all nine of the Society’s central Divisions as well as 11 out of the 13 formalised Divisions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and many of the other member network groups. Contributors were drawn from all levels of membership – from graduate members in training to retired Fellows who have retained their involvement with the Society. We are indebted to everyone who has taken part and would like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks to them for carrying out this work on behalf of the Society.

We would also like to thank all those who completed and returned Areas of Interest Forms during 2009 – nearly 150 members in all. The PSU’s database now holds details of just over 600 members, all of whom have registered an interest in contributing to Society responses to future consultations and/or have contributed to responses since early 2007.

Full details of consultations responded to during 2009 (including the six responded to during December) as well as those responded
to in previous years and those currently under consideration are available via our website ( The website received an average of 1300 visits per month between 1 December 2008 and 30 November 2009, and we are delighted that so many people are interested in this important area of the Society’s work.
We would urge those of you who have not yet been to the site to take a look as this is a great way to find out what your Society is saying to policy-makers on a wide range of topics. We have tried to ensure the site is user-friendly, but please do let us know if you have any difficulty finding your way around it – we are always happy to help.

Finally, please remember that every member, regardless of grade or length of experience, is both eligible and welcome to contribute to Society responses to consultations. Further information is available from our website (address as above) and Areas of Interest Forms are available for download from there. If you would like to contact us directly with any queries, you are welcome to e-mail us at [email protected] or to give us a call on 0116 252 9926/9577.

Boost for educational psychology trainees

The Society’s Division of Educational and Child Psychology (DECP) is to offer free membership to trainee educational psychologists in their first year. The hope is that trainees will establish the habit of membership, enjoy the benefits and continue to remain as members of the Society.

The benefits of joining the Society and the Division are considerable and include a monthly issue of The Psychologist (including Psychologist Appointments), quarterly issues of both the Educational and Child Psychology and the Debate newsletter and professional digest, up to 25% discounts on psychology books, and a prestigious and successful professional development event and conference each January, with a dedicated, subsidised, first day for trainee educational psychologists.

Offering free membership of the DECP in the first year as a Trainee Educational Psychologist gives a saving of £25. Trainees can also claim tax relief on all fees. This saves them approximately £10–15 a year. If they pay by annual direct debit, they save a further £4 a year. There has never been a better opportunity to join and engage with the Society.

As a priority, the DECP is continuing to review its profile and distinctiveness as a learned professional representative division of the BPS so that its currently healthy and increasing EP membership remains committed and loyal.

New bjep monograph
The Society has published the seventh volume in the series of British Journal of Educational Psychology monographs, on ‘understanding number development and difficulties’.

The series, and the annual conferences from which they derive, arose out of what the then Editor, Peter Tomlinson, called ‘a striking but lamentable paradox’. On one hand, psychological work of direct relevance to educators and education had increased in both its range and the extent of the insights it offered with respect to the processes of learning, the characteristics of learners, the nature of effective learning environments, and the role of teachers within these. At the same time, however, initial teacher education, particularly within the UK, had steadily lost psychological input from qualified staff for a variety of reasons, meaning that access to these burgeoning insights was typically limited or even absent.

Current editor Professor Andy Tolmie (Institute of Education) says: ‘The free conferences are well-attended events, attracting an audience of researchers, postgraduate students, and practitioners from a range of sectors, and generating genuinely incisive exchanges of views between these groupings. Critically, these debates have meant that the events have gone beyond simply providing practitioners with a point
of access to research, to the creation of a forum in which both current and future researchers are brought into direct contact with the issues that concern practitioners, and with the insights that they have gleaned, helping to reinvigorate and reshape the research agenda.’

According to Professor Tolmie, ‘the enterprise seems to be gathering momentum. The eighth conference, Psychology and Anti-social Behaviour in Schools, has taken place, and the preparation of the accompanying monograph is in hand. The ninth conference, on Educational Neuroscience, will take place in June 2010, and candidate themes are being sought for 2011 and beyond. How far the series has itself gone towards addressing the paradox that was the original source of concern is harder to gauge, but it has certainly coincided with a returning and increasing interest in psychological perspectives on the part of trainee teachers, to the extent that psychological input to qualifying courses is not just sought, but often heavily subscribed to when available.’

The new volume, edited by Professor Richard Cowan and Dr Matthew Saxton (both Institute of Education) contains contributions from world-leading researchers in the field of number development that add significantly to our understanding of what becoming successful in primary maths involves and how it may be achieved. Robert Siegler describes work aimed at understanding and changing disadvantages in number knowledge that some children bring to school. David Geary reports initial findings from a longitudinal project that fills an important gap by bringing together measures of number skills and general cognitive factors to understand diversity. Lieven Verschaffel deals with research concerning use of a particular strategy, Indirect Addition, for solving subtraction problems. Ann Dowker describes research evaluating her most recent intervention programme, based on pioneering work on the relations between principles and arithmetic skills. Terezinha Nunes and Peter Bryant describe intervention studies concerned with improving children’s multiplicative reasoning that challenge the common view that children begin by understanding multiplication as repeated addition. Finally, Christine Howe reports research on children’s grasp of the differences between intensive quantities such as speed and extensive quantities such as distance, which they need in order to treat the numerical values of these appropriately.

I To order the monograph, see


Cancer services progress welcomed

The Society has responded to a Department of Health consultation on cancer services, and contributors have hailed it as a significant step forward in the provision of psychological support.

Alex King, Policy Officer for the Society’s Faculty for Clinical Health Psychology, said: ‘These guidelines are important in that they set provision of psychological support services on equal footing with all other objective indicators of quality of cancer care that hospitals are required to report on. This is a big deal when peer review comes around, and it’s distinct from other guidance provided by bodies such as NICE, for which “enforcement” is considerably more vague.’

Inigo Tolosa, Chair of the Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology Faculty for Oncology and Palliative Care, was instrumental in advising the National Cancer Action Team on these guidelines. He told us that these measures ‘have teeth. No Commissioners wants to face the public, let alone the User Partnership Groups, when failing to meet mandated, funded Peer Review Measures.’

He added that the NHS ‘will always prioritise life-saving treatment – and so it should. The picture is more complex now that we know that cancer patients with untreated depression are more likely to relapse. It is therefore worth celebrating the first Peer Review Measures in Cancer Care that level the playing field between psychological distress and other services that cancer patients require, such as physiotherapy, or speech and language or occupational therapies, reconstructive surgery, palliative chemo- or radiotherapy, etc.’

Tolosa said the Peer Review Measures aim to integrate physical and psychological health, as they mainly devolve back to front-line staff the basic duty of care towards patients’ psychological needs. Thus the measures require vast numbers of NHS staff to be trained and regularly supported in offering good basic psychological care and interventions to cancer patients. He explained that these measures also set out the expectation that those patients needing further psychological support will be able to access it, first via a layer of accredited professionals (accredited counsellors and psychotherapists, registered mental health nurses) and then via experts in mental health who are experienced in cancer and palliative care (experienced clinical and counselling psychologists or liaison psychiatry consultants).

I    The response to Manual for Cancer Services: Draft Psychological Support Measures is available via, along with other active and completed consultations

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