President’s column; Honorary Life Members, Honorary Fellows and Presidents’ Award; counselling psychology; Division and Branch news; and more

President’s column
Gerry Mulhern
Contact Gerry Mulhern via the Society’s Leicester office,
or e-mail: [email protected].u

I personally regard this column as the most important of my Presidential year. Students are the lifeblood of our discipline and, in recognising this, we have produced 5000 additional copies of The Psychologist this month for distribution to higher education institutions. I hope you find it a useful introduction to the Society.To those entering their first year at university, let me offer my warmest congratulations as you begin your great psychology adventure. I scarcely need to remind you how competitive entry to a psychology degree is, especially in the current climate of unprecedented demand for university places. Have a great time at university/college, but remember to achieve an appropriate balance of work and play so that you make the most of this privileged opportunity.

Other students reading this column may already have completed a year or more of undergraduate psychology, or you may even have begun a postgraduate course. Whatever your current status, if you have not already done so, I would urge you to consider enhancing your student experience by joining the BPS and participating in our activities.  Your education in psychology will provide you with an enviable blend of scientific knowledge and broader skills which you can apply in a wide range of employment contexts after graduation, or which you can develop further through postgraduate study. Whatever you choose to do, you will have a solid grounding in scientific methods and you will
be qualified in an important STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subject. As a discipline, psychology attracts more people from non-science backgrounds into science than any other discipline, and it attracts a very high proportion of women into science.
Let me tell you a little about our great learned society. With some 48,000 members and subscribers, The British Psychological Society is the second largest learned society and professional body for psychology in the world and, in its 110th year, is the second oldest.

The BPS, as it is more familiarly known, is primarily an organisation ‘of members, for members’. Through our members’ voluntary activities and the support of our 100 or so staff in Leicester, London and the Regional Offices, we support every aspect of psychology within the UK, including research, education and professional training, development and practice.

The Society
is the largest publisher of psychology journals in Europe and we have recently entered an exciting publishing partnership with Wiley-Blackwell which will further enhance our already excellent journals portfolio. One of the immediate benefits of this partnership will be free online access for all Society members to our 11 journals, and to many Wiley-Blackwell titles. 

The Society seeks to have a ‘cradle to grave’ relationship with our members, offering an ever-increasing range of member benefits and services. We set educational standards and offer advice and support to institutions on the quality of their degree courses; we provide a wide range of opportunities for continuing professional development and professional enhancement; we organise a full range of conferences to meet the diverse needs of our membership; our member networks (Divisions, Sections, Special Groups, Branches, support groups and committees) offer more focused services and collegial activity; our BPS Shop offers discounts on conferences, events, publications, training, education, CPD and eLearning; we promote the discipline through our media centre, marketing and parliamentary activity; we work with other learned societies on a wide range of joint activities; we participate in important international forums with the aim of promoting and growing psychology worldwide (some 5000 of our members live and work overseas).

In terms of our student members, we offer a host of services to support and enhance your study of psychology. Some examples are:
I    Access to lots of information on our Society website, including the member-only areas (our website is undergoing extensive redesign and the new improved version will be available soon);
I    Membership of the Student Members Group, a dynamic member network catering for student interests;
I    For postgraduates, PsyPAG is an equally dynamic network catering for postgraduate needs;
I    The Psychologist each month, and the quarterly PsychTalk publication;
I    Our award-winning Research Digest at where you can learn about the most up-to-date and exciting published research (you do not even have to be a member to register for this service);
I    Psychology 4 Students lectures designed to inspire pre-tertiary and undergraduate students who want to pursue a future in psychology (the next P4S lectures are in Nottingham in November, London in December and Belfast in March 2011);
I    Also look out for our BPS App coming soon.

So, why not consider beginning your lifelong relationship with us today. Download an application form at For non-taxpaying students, it only costs £21 per year to be a member.
Join us! 

Lifetime Achievement Award
Alan Cowey

The Research Board is delighted to announce that Professor Alan Cowey has accepted the Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award for academics and researchers 2010. This award recognises distinctive and exemplary contributions to psychological knowledge.

Professor Cowey is recognised as a leading figure in UK and international experimental and physiological psychology.

As Professor Vincent Walsh (University College London) said in nominating Professor Cowey, ‘Alan has represented the British psychological community at the highest level and had made
a huge contribution to the growing prestige of our discipline’.
Professor Cowey has published some 300 academic papers in a distinguished career spanning over four decades. Throughout this period he has been at the forefront of the work on the brain basis of visual perception – a researcher who has earned the respect from neuroscientists for work of the highest technical and scholarly standard in the anatomy of the visual pathway and the effect of lesions on behaviour. His research in these areas has been driven by the goal of connecting to high-level understanding of psychology and human perception.

Professor Cowey’s work spans all levels of analysis and he has always worked on visual problems in the context of visual system behaviour. His research career began as a Cambridge undergraduate with work published in 1962 measuring eye position in observers whose head movements were restricted but not abolished. The first recognition of early achievements was the award of the Spearman Medal in 1967. Subsequent highlights of recognition of his work included holding the Royal Society Henry Head Research Fellowship (1968–73), Council membership of the Medical Research Council (1981–84), president of the European Brain and Behaviour Society (1966–68), Elected Fellow of the Royal Society (1988), and President of the Experimental Psychology Society (1990–92).

The clinical relevance of higher-level of understanding vision has always been an important component of Cowey’s work. Central to this is the combination of methods that had been traditionally segregated. He has used anatomical, electrophysiological and image methods to solve behavioural problems and was among the first to establish a laboratory for transcranial magnetic stimulation in cognitive neuropsychology, at a time when the method was met with much suspicion.

Professor Trevor Robbins commented: ‘His insights into the phenomenon of ‘blindsight’, through experiments with impeccable logic and elegant design, have led us to a new understanding of the functional organisation of the primate visual system.’

Professor Cowey has worked alongside many postdocs and graduate students throughout his career, and many of these have gone on to be internationally distinguished cognitive neuroscientists. Professor Walsh said: ‘Many senior scientists have a career in which they have nurtured their own achievements. One of Cowey’s major achievements is that he has nurtured the achievements and careers of others. Some of his 24 doctoral students are scientists of achievement who have built on their training in Cowey’s hands.’

When told of the award, Professor Cowey said: ‘I am delighted to have received the award. I suppose the award signals that I have not been wasting my time in attempting to combine psychology and neuroscience, and that I am not yet over the hill!’ Professor Cowey will receivea commemorative certificate and £1000 towards further research, and he commented: ‘There is still much to do. The nature of consciousness has been neglected and even dismissed for many years. It is still a huge challenge – but it is gratifying to see so many psychologists grappling with it and using techniques like functional and diffusion-tensor brain imaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation or direct current stimulation of the brain, high density EEG, magnetoencephalography, all hand-in-hand with established psychological methods. Another question is the nature of executive control, which is finally revealing its secrets.’
Debbie James 

Honorary awards

The Society recognised three of its members with honorary awards at its Annual General Meeting in June: the Society’s ‘superego’, a psychologist who has fought for justice and one who has advised nations on well-being.

Margaret McAllister received Honorary Life Membership. As proposer and Society President Gerry Mulhern said, ‘If there were not a Society award of Honorary Life Member, we should have to invent it for a member like Margaret McAllister. Margaret has been a stalwart of the Society over many years. To many, she has been its superego, holding Society officialdom to account and jealously guarding the democratic bona fides of the Society. Few attending Open Meetings at the Society’s Annual Conferences over the years would have failed be struck by her taking to task the Society officers of the day. A champion of the “ordinary” member? Undoubtedly. A thorn in the side of authority? Frequently. And quite right too!’

Margaret McAllister has had a particular soft spot for Branches, which she considers to be the Society in geographical microcosm, and she was a prime mover in the establishment of the Branches Forum. She also held Presidential office from 1995 to 1998, served as a member of Council from 1980 to 2001 and again from 2005 to 2008, and has held various other Board and Committee positions.

‘It is clear that Margaret McAllister has devoted her professional life to the British Psychological Society and has made a distinguished contribution to psychology through these activities,’ Gerry Mulhern said. ‘Throughout this time, the esteem in which Margaret has held the Society, or, as she sees it, her fellow members without whom there would be no Society, has not wavered.’

Margaret McAllister told us: ‘I was delighted when I?was told the good news that I was about to be honoured by the Society. Over the years I have found many benefits in my membership, including intellectual stimulus, a long-lasting interest in governance – and a lot of fun!

I have been privileged to make many friends, and I am very happy to knowthat my contribution to the affairs of the Society has been recognised in this very positive way.’

Receiving an Honorary Fellowship was Professor Raymond Bull, for the advancement of psychology in the field of forensic psychology, and the improvement of policing and criminal justice systems worldwide. In his eulogy, Mike Berry noted that Professor Ray Bull’s work ‘has had a huge impact on a variety of professional practices and court procedures, especially in terms of improving the interviewing by the police and others of vulnerable children and vulnerable adults, as well as explaining why honest eyewitnesses can provide mistaken testimony.’ In addition to numerous professional honours and publications, Professor Bull has contributed to Home Office, Scottish Executive and Metropolitan Police work.

Professor Bull told The Psychologist: ‘I am very pleased, yet rather surprised, to be one of the relatively few to receive the Society’s highest honour. In part I take this as vindication that conducting research on the applications of psychology to ‘real-world’ settings is worthy and important. Given that my first lectureship was in ‘experimental psychology’, I have an awareness of the comparative difficulty of conducting good laboratory-based and methodologically rigorous field-based research.’

Also receiving an Honorary Fellowship was Professor Cary Cooper CBE (Lancaster University). Recognised worldwide for his work on health and stress in the workplace within an organisational psychology framework, Professor Cary Cooper has authored over 100 books and 400 academic articles. He is also a frequent contributor to the national and international mass media. In 2006 he was appointed lead scientist by the UK Government Office for Science on the Foresight programme on Mental Capital and Well-Being, whose report was completed in October 2008. He has also advised the World Health Organization and International Labour Organization, and was recently appointed Chair of the UK’s Academy of Social Sciences.

In his eulogy, Mike Berry noted that Professor Cooper’s ‘esteemed academic output work has generated practices that have led to the adoption of psychological techniques and theories in the field of stress management worldwide by employers, governments, clinicians and individuals. He has been at the forefront of British psychology for many years and has been very successful in advancing the role and value of psychology in the applied world.’

Professor Cooper told The Psychologist: ‘It is absolutely wonderful that my peers have recognised me with this Honorary Fellowship, it means a great deal to me personally that my psychological colleagues value the work I have done. It is also important for the field of occupational psychology as well, which for many years was considered a poorer cousin to other areas of psychology – I feel now occupational psychology has finally arrived.’ [See also ‘One on one’, p.784.]

Counselling psychology works

The Division of Counselling Psychology held its annual conference at Strathclyde University on 8–10 July 2010. This university (in conjunction with Caledonian) is the latest institution to offer BPS-accredited training for counselling psychology. We were all hugely pleased to be there together to celebrate this success; and then later to eat, dance and sing in the majestic Glasgow Trades Hall, where the hospitality was bounteous.

One of our delegates, Carole Roulston was able to be very specific about the impact of the whole experience:

Attending the Conference really deepened my sense of belonging to such a welcoming and enthusiastic Division. I particularly enjoyed the
pre-Conference workshops for more personally reflective learning. I was very encouraged to hear Alessandra Lemma express her involvement and influence of government policy that gave me hope that therapeutic plurality and, therefore, counselling psychology, might gain a stronger presence at public service level.

Richard Golsworthy, the Chair of the Scotland National branch of DCoP, welcomed the conference to Glasgow.

He reminded us of Scotland’s differing traditions, law and ethos. Difference, pragmatism and innovation suffused the conference in keeping with its title: ‘Counselling Psychology Works’. As well as the new, popular and successful open-to-the-public lecture on men and masculinity on Scotland reported below, we went international, with Dr Brian Levitt from Ontario. In a keynote talk he dared to suggest that psychological assessment for legal purposes could and should be a very human encounter. This was contrasted effectively when Strathclyde’s own Professor Robert Elliott challenged received wisdom around the discourse of ‘evidence’. He presented a learned and primarily quantitative case for the efficacy of person-centred experiential therapy. Dr Diana Saunders charted the often painful trajectory of CBT from an historically particularised treatment to a wider approach in which mindfulness and other third-wave modalities interact fruitfully within the clinical spectrum. Professor Alessandra Lemma responded to the challenges of NICE and IAPT by making a strong and well-evidenced case for pluralism.

Diverse conference workshops, posters, symposia and individual papers kept us all busy, stimulated and excited about the future direction of counselling psychology. There were plenty of surprises. Kevin Hogan’s paper on our lack of preparedness to deal with female-to-male domestic abuse drew some media attention and was picked up by interested websites. The terrible plight of the client who may have to educate his therapist before work can begin was explored with clarity and compassion. This theme was received well by its audience and implications for initial training and CPD were explored.

Counselling psychology as an applied psychology faces challenges in the coming years. The conference, a hotbed of debate and lively interaction, provided the best environment in which to face necessary developments: the opportunity to make partnerships with other applied psychologies, to rejoice in our distinctiveness, and to find professional wisdom on the way to move forward post-HPC. We had a good time. Our professionalism was fed and our sense of purpose renewed.
    Dr Peter Martin, Communications Lead
DCoP, Chair Elect

Following the Society’s mission statement to take psychology to the public, the Division of Counselling Psychology made a decision to offer a public lecture as a central platform of its Annual Conference. Dr Peter Martin, our Communications Lead and Chair Elect, took the idea forward and the Division undertook to advertise the lecture. We were greatly assisted by the BPS publicity team who drafted an excellent advert, issued a press release and engaged with local newspapers.

The conference, held on 8–10 July 2010, took place at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. On Saturday 10 July counselling psychologist Dr Ewan Gillon gave a public lecture titled ‘The making of Scottish men’. ‘Scotland’s men have a reputation for being tough guys,’ Dr Gillon said. ‘Think Alex Ferguson, Sean Connery and perhaps even Gordon Brown. Despite the onset of “new man” and the “metrosexual”, traditional male ideals emphasising hard living, competitiveness and emotional detachment still hold firm in many parts of Scottish society. These can create, in men, a stoical, invulnerable front that masks many forms of emotional distress and mental illness. Instead, men destroy themselves (and others), commonly in the forms of alcohol and drug abuse, anger, violence and through a range of less visible mechanisms such as workaholism and emotional neglect.’

Dr Gillon went on to look at the ways in which ‘traditional’ ideas about what a man should be are at the root of many destructive cycles Scottish men find themselves in. ‘We examine the insights that counselling psychology has to offer in making sense of how Scottish men are, and consider some of the things psychologists can contribute to helping to make things better. In this regard, we consider what really might be the making of Scottish men, from a counselling psychology perspective.’

The lecture proved to be extremely popular, being attended by 189 people, the great majority of whom were members of the public. The topic drew the attention of the wider Scottish media with Dr Gillon having a very busy week giving interviews and taking part in discussion panels on the subject. Subsequently the lecture has facilitated further working relationships between service providers
in Scotland, and the Scottish Branch of DCoP are taking forward further developments.

We would like both to thank Dr Gillon for his inspiring talk that gave everyone much food for thought, and to inform the wider Society membership of what was achieved by a combination of a determined Communications Lead, fruitful collaboration with the BPS publicity team, and an excellent presentation. Slides from the presentation can be requested from [email protected].
Dr Barbara Douglas, DCoP Chai


Four responses were submitted in July; full details of them all, including downloadable copies of consultation papers and the Society’s responses, are available at:

The Society’s response to the Nuffield Council for Bioethics’ consultation on Human Bodies in Medicine and Research was submitted early and reported as a separate item in last month’s Psychologist (p.662). The Higher Education Funding Council for England’s third Teaching Funding Method Review was responded
to via the Joint Committee for Psychology in Higher Education and included a restatement of the Society’s position that psychology is, and should be, funded as a laboratory-based discipline. Brief details of the other two consultations and responses are as follows:

Revised HPC Standard of Proficiency for Health Psychologists.As a result of feedback from the Division of Health Psychology, the Health Professions Council (HPC) put forward a proposal to amend the current domain-specific standard of proficiency for health psychology, 2b.4, by removing that part of the standard (below) which makes explicit reference to cognitive behavioural therapy:
be able to integrate and implement therapeutic interventions based on a range of evidence-based models of formal psychological therapy, including the use of cognitive behavioural therapy.
The Society’s response, led on by the Division of Health Psychology, fully supported the proposed change of wording and thanked the HPC for their attention to the matter.

Under-Age Sexual Activity This Scottish Government consultation sought views on draft guidance for practitioners working with children and young people to consider what local policy and procedures are required to effectively support those engaged in under-age sexual activity, particularly where there might be a child protection concern. The Society’s response included the following key points:

I    clarification is needed regarding what under-age sexual activity should be passed on to the police;
I    evidence-based and well-evaluated programmes should be developed and delivered to improve the sexual health of young people, particularly those where a risk has been identified;
I    it may be unhelpful for all cases of sexual activity where alcohol or drugs have been involved to automatically be classed as a child protection concern – this may lead to young people choosing not to disclose certain information for fear of child protection procedures being implemented.

The preparation and submission of the Society’s responses to consultations on public policy is coordinated by the Policy Support Unit (PSU). All those holding at least graduate membership 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) or visit our website (address above)..

Sussex hub launch 

The Society’s Wessex Branch is launching a Sussex membership hub. A launch event is planned from 5:30pm on Wednesday 24 November at the University of Sussex, with two presentations by University of Sussex Professors Graham Davey and Andy Field.

The Sussex hub will have a remit for any members located in Sussex and commutable locations. The Wessex Branch has currently four geographical hubs, for its approximately 5000 members. The other hubs are Dorset, Thames Valley and Solent. Each hub is managed by a subcommittee and organises regular membership meetings and events. The formation of a fifth hub for Surrey is in planning; indeed, an interested coordinator located in Surrey is needed to make this happen.

The November event actually marks a ‘re-launch’of the Sussex hub, as it had become inactive. New organisers Jessica Christie-Sands and Gene Johnson have a plan for quarterly events. Event topics will be chosen to appeal to our different psychology disciplines; the draft programme for next year includes key topics in clinical/neuropsychology, occupational, health and educational psychology. Professors Graham Davey and Andy Field will speak on two different topics at the launch. Professor Davey will present ‘Doing clinical psychology research in the lab: What non-clinical populations can tell us about psychopathology’. Professor Field will follow with a topic interestingly entitled ‘“Freeze Sarah Jane, if you move we’re dead”: How children develop fears from what they’re told’.

The event is free to Society members, but booking is essential. Contact Branch Administrator Sheila Simons at [email protected], quoting Sussex Launch in the subject title and include your name and BPS number in the message.

If you would like to know more about the Wessex hub events in your area, contact the relevant Hub Coordinator:
Dorset: Dr Jacqui Taylor [email protected]
Thames Valley: Sue Roberts [email protected]
Solent: Alan Gilbert [email protected]
Sussex: Dr Jessica Christie-Sands [email protected] 

Division of Health Psychology news

The Division of Health Psychology (DHP) has been working to raise public awareness of health psychology. A session on ‘The Psychology of Healing’ presented by DHP members Professors John Weinman and Kavita Vedhara as part of the 2010 Cheltenham Festival of Science attracted more than 550 members of the public. They heard how psychological factors and processes can influence the speed with which wounds, such as leg ulcers, can heal.   

The Division has also introduced two awards to recognise the contributions made by DHP members to promote and advance the discipline.

The 2010 DHP Award for Outstanding Contribution to Research has been given to Professor Mark Conner (University of Leeds) for his contributions over the last 20 years to improving understanding of the attitude-behaviour relationship, psychological models of the determinants of health behaviours, and cognitive versus affective influences on behaviour.

The 2010 DHP Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of Health Psychology has been awarded to Professor Pauline Adair for her work in promoting Health Psychology within NHS agendas, involvement in securing NHS Education for Scotland (NES) funding for the training of Stage II health psychology trainees, and contribution to teaching and training. Professor Adair, formerly of NHS Fife, is now Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Salford.

Dr Diana Harcourt, outgoing Chair of the Division of Health Psychology, and Dr Alison Wearden, the incoming Chair, congratulated both Professor Conner and Professor Adair. ‘We are delighted to be able to acknowledge and celebrate the ways in which DHP members are developing and promoting health psychology through both research and practice. Mark and Pauline have both made very significant contributions and we are very pleased to present them with these awards.’

New Community Psychology Section

At the British Psychological Society’s General Meeting on 25 June, the formation of a new Community Psychology Section was formally ratified in compliance with Rule 45(C) of the Charter, Statutes and Rules.

Community psychology offers a theoretical orientation, area of research and branch of the academic study of psychology that supports the work of a helping profession. Community psychology is about understanding people within their social worlds and using this understanding to improve people's well-being.

The new Section aims to represent an area of psychology currently unrepresented in Britain; a growing interest in community psychology in the UK; to promote research within community psychology; and to be active on behalf of the Society in promoting community psychology nationallyThe inaugural meeting of the Section will take place on 8 October 2010, commencing at 1pm at the Society’s London office, 30 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4UE. It will be convened by the Honorary General Secretary of the Society. Places will be allocated on first come, first served basis. If you are interested in attending, e-mail your membership number to [email protected] by 25 September, with ‘Community Psychology Section Attendance’ in the subject line.

If you are interested in becoming involved with the interim committee, please state ‘Community Section Committee’ in the subject line.

learning centre
To have your CPD event approved by the Society and for a catalogue of forthcoming opportunities, see
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

The Society’s Oral History Project is compiling a unique archive of sound recordings of psychologists around the UK. The project is going from strength to strength and needs more volunteer members in all areas of the UK to conduct the occasional interview.

If you are interested in taking part and would like to volunteer your services, please contact the Society’s Archivist Mike Maskill at [email protected] or call him on 020 7330 0895.

Sport & Exercise award nominations
The Division of Sport & Exercise Psychology is seeking nominations for the Division’s Distinguished Contribution to the Field of Sport & Exercise Psychology Award, which will be presented at the Biennial Conference in London on 9–10 December 2010.

Nominees should be Members of the Division who have made a distinguished contribution to the field of Sport & Exercise Psychology in any relevant area (e.g. research, applied work, education, etc.)
The award recipient may be asked to deliver a lecture at the conference.

The nomination should include a citation of 200 words, a named proposer and seconder. Please contact Susan Eppel at the BPS ([email protected]) for nomination form and send to BPS FREEPOST, LE4 081, Leicester LE1 7ZB,
no later than 31 October 2010.

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