President’s column; 200th Research Digest; child sex abuse working party; revised authorship credit guidance; consultation responses; BPS Journals news; and more

President’s column

I would like to begin this column by passing on my congratulations to the Division of Health Psychology, who are celebrating their 25th anniversary. This special edition is an excellent showcase for their work and achievements, as they work towards increasing the profile of health psychology to the public, policy makers and employers.

I was invited to attend the Professional Practice Board awayday on 28 October, which was held in BPS London office. The awayday brought together all of the Divisions and Special Groups of psychologists. The first part of the day covered issues to do with statutory regulation. The Society has a yearly meeting with the Health Professions Council, but in view of the number of issues coming up the Board felt it was important to engage in a dialogue with the HPC. To provide some structure, questions were canvassed from all of the groups, and these were given to the HPC in advance.

Attending on behalf of the HPC were Anna van der Gaag, Chair of the Health Professions Council and Marc Seale, Chief Executive Officer. As well as answering individual queries they also provided an interpretation of the government’s command paper Enabling Excellence by setting it within the current political and economic context. Enabling Excellence sets out the government’s intentions with regard to future regulation: the emphasis is on localism and minimising regulation. The HPC itself regulates 219,000 registrants across 15 separate groups, and after the abolition of the General Social Care Council will become the regulator for Social Workers in England. No further new groups will be statutorily regulated, and the process for clinical perfusionists, counsellors and psychotherapists will be halted.

The government is exploring the possibility of voluntary registers, and the Health and Social Care Bill which is going through Parliament will give powers to the current regulators, including the HPC, to undertake this type of work. The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) will take an oversight role and possibly provide a kitemark for certain registers that meet quality standards.

There were a number of questions about the handling of complaints against professionals, the time taken to handle complaints and concerns over the publicity that is given to professionals who are the subject of a hearing. The HPC responded by saying that the average time to conclude a hearing is about 15 months, although because of the complexities, the process cannot take less than 11 months.

The process of investigation and what is published in the public domain is driven by legislation. Registrants have a right to information and a right to respond as soon as the complaint comes in and before publication on the HPC website. The nature of the complaint is made known to the registrant at the outset. The HPC provides guidance to registrants when an allegation is made and also provides a named contact. The HPC has a malicious complaints process, which is available via the HPC’s website.

There was reassurance that registrants from the same part of the register will be involved in complaint handling, and that expert witnesses are called when these are required. Currently the HPC has no plans to develop post-qualification registers when asked specifically about this by the Division of Neuropsychology. My own view is that this is definitely a role for the Society. The HPC is about assuring minimum standards to practise, and a distinct role for a professional body is quality enhancement.

The second part of the day was devoted to looking at the strategic focus for PPB. The session was opened by Gerry Mulhern (Vice President) and myself discussing the BPS strategic plan and reflecting how the work of PPB links with that focus. Gerry asked the group to consider what was the role of Divisions now they had no gatekeeping function – How should we set membership criteria? What were the benefits? Could these benefits be extended to other groups? Were there economies of scale? There are numbers of generic roles pertinent to all practitioners – for example, trainee, newly qualified, expert practitioner, supervisor, scientist practitioner, leader, manager – which could provide a cross-divisional focus.

These discussions throw into sharp focus the role of a professional body like the BPS. The HPC was clear that a strong professional body makes the work of public protection, which is the overriding remit of all regulators, much easier. To help the 15,000 of our members who are regulated by the HPC become and remain ‘fit to practise’ the Society supports and advises members on ethical decision making by publishing ethical guidance in the Code of Ethics and Conduct, publishing a wide range of practice guides and maintaining an online ethics helpline. In addition the Society supports CPD through its Learning Centre, and also the CPD online planning and recording that is compliant with the needs of the HPC, the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework and the requirement to maintain Chartered Scientist status.

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

Celebrating 200 issues of the BPS Research Digest

The Society’s free Research Digest e-mail service is 200 issues old! To mark this milestone, its editor, Dr Christian Jarrett, invited some of the world’s leading psychologists to write 200 words on one time that psychology came to their rescue. Visit the Digest blog at for their honest and compelling contributions, some of which will also feature in next month’s Psychologist.

The Research Digest provides plain English reports on the latest findings in psychology. It started out as a fortnightly e-mail newsletter in 2003 – an idea proposed by Dr Jon Sutton, editor of The Psychologist. Although the Digest continues in this e-mail format – now with over 27,000 subscribers – it also exists as a blog, created by Dr Jarrett in 2005. The Digest blog attracted its two-millionth visitor earlier this year and in 2010 won the Best Blog Psychology award in the inaugural, international Research Blogging Awards.

The Research Digest is ideal for students, and for lecturers and researchers who want to keep abreast of developments outside of their chosen specialism. It also catches the eye of journalists and the general public, and has been cited in a host of international publications and their associated blogs, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Harpers, Wired UK and Psychologies.

The Digest has transformed from a study aid with modest ambitions into a must-read psychology blog with a large and loyal international readership. It has always moved with the times and now has outlets on Twitter and Facebook, providing new ways for thousands of followers to keep up to speed with the latest psychology research (see @resesarchdigest and

New features are always being added to the Digest, including summary posts that provide links to new special issues in psychology and links to psychology podcasts, interviews and gossip. Perhaps the most exciting development was the launch earlier this year of an offspring title – The BPS Occupational Digest – providing reports on the latest psychology research relevant to the workplace (

If you are yet to make use of the Digest, now is the time to take a look. As the main Digest passes the milestone of its 200th e-mail issue, keep an eye out for more exciting developments in the near future!

Survivors of childhood abuse

Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) is a type of interpersonal complex trauma that affects 10–20 per cent of children across the EU, although it is believed that it is largely underreported. In the UK prevalence is reported to be 21 per cent for females and 11 per cent for males. Adult survivors of CSA are likely to present with psychological/emotional, social/relational, and physical/sexual difficulties ranging in severity (Cawson et al., 2000; McGee et al., 2002). Seeking and receiving help to deal with experiences of sexual abuse has been shown to be a long, complex, and difficult process for most survivors (Chouliara et al., in press; Gavey, 2003). Providing services for survivors is also challenging and entails the risk for vicarious traumatisation (Chouliara et al., 2009). Therefore, CSA is recognised as a public health issue (Krug et al., 2002; WHO, 2002).

The working party

The British Psychological Society Scottish branch Survivors of childhood sexual abuse working party (BPSSS) is the only organised group of applied psychologists in the UK and one of few internationally, who focus on adult survivors of CSA. It is the only project funded by the British Psychological Society Scottish Branch (BPS Scotland). It is currently supported by 18 dedicated applied psychologists (clinical, health, forensic, counselling) and academics in Scotland. The working party was originally developed by Rose Evison, a counselling psychologist, as a response to the development of the National Strategy for Survivors of CSA, i.e. SurvivorScotland.

The working party’s activities are organised around three sections: education and training; survivor-focused services; and research. These sections are highly interrelated and interdependent. Convenor of the working party is Professor Thanos Karatzias, clinical and health psychologist. The training sector is led by Dr Sandra Ferguson, consultant clinical psychologist; the services section by Dr Fara McAfee, clinical psychologist; and the research sector by Dr Zoë Chouliara, practitioner health psychologist and psychotherapist/counsellor.

The aims of the BPSSS are as follows: to consult with and support the National Strategy for Survivors for the benefit of survivors and their families; to work together with colleagues in the NHS, NHS Education Scotland, and the voluntary sector in order to provide quality services for survivors; to influence policy, service development and training in the area of CSA and complex trauma; to provide high-quality research and make such research accessible to practitioner in this area; to enable communication and networking amongst psychologists and other professionals in this area and address the stigma and negative social stereotypes about CSA. On 24 October, the BPSSS celebrated four years since its launch and presented their activities and outcomes to a selected audience of practitioners in an event organised by BPS Scotland. A summary of such activities and outcomes, as presented on the event, are summarised briefly as follows.

Training and clinical services

In a recent brief review of current psychological training, the BPSSS has identified the absence of or limited inclusion of CSA and complex trauma in the curriculum for psychology, even at practitioner level (e.g. professional training of clinical, health, counselling and forensic psychologists). Inclusion of CSA/complex trauma in the curriculum has been sporadic and largely based on opportunity and individual dedication. The introduction of the Routine Standard Enquiry initiative in selective services (i.e. mental health and maternity services) places greater demand for staff training in these areas, as well as supervision.

The BPSSS has developed and piloted a number of group interventions for survivors of CSA/complex trauma. The ‘Survive and Thrive’ programme is a 10-week psychoeducational intervention for survivors on waiting list, aiming at stabilisation. A recent evaluation indicated that this intervention was beneficial in reducing self-harming behaviours (e.g. aggression, drug and alcohol use) and was highly acceptable by survivors. ‘Becoming Safely Embodied’ is an experiential skill-based group which integrates modern trauma theory with traditional eastern theory and practice. We are currently piloting the ‘Trauma, Recovery and Empowerment Approach’ (TREM) for complex trauma.

In summary, the BPSSS advocates the development of trauma-sensitive and trauma-informed services. The essence of trauma-focused care lies in changing the question from ‘What is wrong?’ to ‘What happened to you?’.


The BPSSS develop and support research that is survivor-centred, multidisciplinary/multiprofessional, inclusive of all stakeholders in the area of CSA/complex trauma, and, most importantly, practice-oriented. Our objectives are to develop high-quality research that will directly improve the quality of life of survivors, their families and communities, and to make such research directly accessible to practitioners in this field. Apart from developing original research, we also provide research consultancy to the NHS and voluntary sectors as well as support and mentoring to students and trainees. Our research focuses on effectiveness of interventions (as discussed above), on the experience of survivors and professionals, and on systematic reviews of previous evidence. Our recent qualitative study on survivors’ and professionals’ experiences of services for CSA revealed that a trusting therapeutic relationship is seen as paramount in the recovery process. Also survivors were clear in wanting services which are flexible, inclusive, consistent, responsive, accessible, informed and sensitive (Chouliara et al., 2011). We are currently working on a project looking at the views of survivors and professionals about recovery from CSA. The tangible endpoints of this research will be to draw recovery pathways and to develop the first self-help booklet for recovery from CSA. This self-help tool will be based on the experiences of survivors and will be piloted in selected services in the NHS and the voluntary sector before becoming widely available. Apart from being a self-help tool from survivors to survivors, it is also envisaged to be complementary to individual and group interventions. Two systematic reviews and meta-analyses are currently being conducted on the effectiveness of group interventions for complex trauma and CSA. Future research by the BPSSS will aim to focus more on prison populations, whilst continuing to focus on effectiveness of interventions which are widely used in the area of CSA, but have not been evaluated (e.g. trauma-focused CBT vs. EMDR in imprisoned survivors and humanistic counselling for survivors respectively).

Future directions

The BPSSS has successfully completed four years of consistent activity in the area of CSA/complex trauma, despite the numerous challenges, including the high vulnerability of the population we are working with and the social stigma and stereotypes still present. Our aim for the future is to continue taking forward training, practice and research initiatives that directly benefit survivors and professionals working with them. We are aiming to continue influencing policy and practice in the area of CSA and to expand our network and collaborations across the UK and internationally. Our long-term objective is to become a focal point the area of CSA/complex trauma, which would be timely and justified giving the prevalence of these phenomena and current socio-political and population developments. We hope to continue offering our services and expertise and to continue learning from all stakeholders in this area, including colleagues and survivors.


Cawson, P., Wattam, C., Brooker, S. & Kelly, G. (2000). Child maltreatment in the United Kingdom: A study of the prevalence of child abuse and neglect. London: NSPCC.

Chouliara, Z., Hutchison, C. & Karatzias, T. (2009). Vicarious traumatisation in practitioners who work with adult survivors of sexual abuse and child sexual abuse (CSA): Literature review and directions for future research. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research (Special issue: Trauma, Resilience and Growth), 9(1), 47–56.

Chouliara, Z., Karatzias, T., Scott-Brien, G. et al. (in press). Perspectives of services for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA): A systematic review of the literature. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research.

Chouliara, Z., Karatzias, T., Scott-Brien, G. et al. (2011). Talking therapy services for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) in Scotland: Perspectives of service users and professionals. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 20, 1–29.

Gavey, N.J. (2003). Writing the effects of sexual abuse: Interrogating the possibilities and pitfalls of using clinical psychology expertise for a critical social justice agenda. In P. Reavey & S. Warner (Eds.) New feminist stories of child sexual abuse: Sexual scripts and dangerous dialogues. London: Routledge.

Krug, E.G., Dahlberg, L.L., Mercy, J.A., et al. (2002). World report on violence and health. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

McGee, H., Garavan, R., deBarra, M. et al. (2002). The SAVI Report: Sexual abuse and violence in Ireland. Dublin: Liffey Press in association with Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

World Health Organization (WHO) (2002). World health report. Geneva: Author.

News from BPS journals

First ‘Virtual Issues’

Hot on the heels of the online publication of the archive issues for each of the BPS Journals, a couple of our Editors have selected some special articles to feature in BPS Virtual Issues.

Virtual issues are online collections of articles that have been published across the span of a journal’s archive issues. Virtual Issues are a great way to showcase existing articles, collected together around a key theme.

British Journal of Psychology: A selection of the most important articles drawn from the hundred-year archive of the British Journal of Psychology , Edited by Peter Mitchell and Eamonn Ferguson.

Legal and Criminological Psychology: Interrogation techniques, information-gathering and (false) confessions, Edited by Aldert Vrij

All members of the BPS have access to these issues free as a benefit of their membership – look out for these on the left-hand side menu of the journal homepages on Wiley Online Library.

BJCP welcomes new Editors

We are delighted to announce the appointments of Professor Julie Henry, and Professor Mike Startup as the incoming Editors for British Journal of Clinical Psychology. Julie is Associate Professor and Australian Research

Fellow in the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland, Australia. Mike is Professor in Psychology at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Both Mike and Julie studied and developed their research skills in the UK before moving to Australia to take their posts at Queensland and Newcastle. Julie and Mike will succeed Professors Michael Barkham and Gillian Hardy who have done a sterling job taking BJCP from strength to strength under their seven-year editorship and publishing some of the most interesting and innovative work in clinical psychology.

Revised Authorship Credit Guidance

The Society’s Statement of Policy on Authorship and Publication Credit has been updated. This follows a review of the original 2004 Statement by the Research Board and Ethics Committee.

In response to enquiries received by the Society, additional clarification has been added about the need for authors to be aware that authorship credit can change during the research and publication process. Authorship credit agreed at the outset of research may need to be amended to reflect these changes, so that the contributions of all the involved parties can be reflected in publication outputs. The resolution of authorship matters should be inclusive, open and professional, and be agreed by all parties.

The position of postgraduates students in authorship of publications arising from their doctoral work is also included in the Policy. The original 2004 guidance was produced to assist postgraduates and supervisors consider issues relating to publication credit.

A PDF of the Policy is available from the Society’s website (see

If you have any further queries, please contact Dr Lisa Morrison Coulthard, Policy Advisor, Science and Research, on [email protected].

Sporting benefits

With the Olympic and Paralympic Games piquing the public’s interest in sport, the Society has sponsored the publication of a new report, Making the Case for the Social Sciences: Sport and Leisure. The latest in the series from the Academy of Social Sciences, the booklet examines the complex impact of sport and leisure on society. It was launched on 1 November in Westminster as part of the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science, at an event attended by around 100 politicians, policymakers and other key stakeholders.

The booklet summarises a number of social science research case studies, demonstrating their impact in the worlds of sport and leisure. It was prepared under the guidance of Professor Jonathan Long AcSS of Leeds Metropolitan University, Professor David Kirk AcSS of the University of Bedfordshire, Dr Lisa Morrison-Coulthard of the British Psychological Society and Professor Karl Spracklen of the Leisure Studies Association and Leeds Metropolitan University.

At the event, discussion was led by an expert panel consisting of Tessa Jowell (current Olympics Board member); Debbie Lye (International Development Director, UK Sport); and Steven Day, the Chief Executive of the Fulham Football Club Foundation. In addition, Professors David Lavallee and Kathy Armour made short presentations about their work. Professor Lavallee (Head of the School of Sport at the University of Stirling) discussed his research into the transitions Olympic and Paralympic athletes make during and after their sporting careers. In particular he addressed the loss of identity associated with retirement from professional sport, typically at a relatively young age, and the ways the effects of this can be managed over the whole career. Whilst his work was helping many current and past elite athletes, the findings were also relevant to the issues faced by retiring servicemen and women in particular.

The launch was extremely well received and sparked some lengthy discussions regarding the role of sport as a force for good in society and more broadly, the role of the social science in policy development. A concluding thought was to remember the importance of looking beyond immediate benefits of sport to the longer-term benefits: does sport have a longer-term impact or just at the moment of engagement.

- For copies of the report and the presentations, see:

International Congress of Psychology

Reflecting the Society’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Psychological Society of South Africa, it is our honour to invite BPS members to participate with psychologists from around the globe in the 30th International Congress of Psychology (ICP 2012) in July. ICP 2012 will be the first time for this flagship event in international psychology to be held in Africa since its inception in 1889 in Paris, and only the second time for it to be held in the Southern Hemisphere.

Under the theme ‘Psychology Serving Humanity’, ICP 2012 will showcase new frontiers of psychological science and practice as a means for improving, developing and enriching human life. The theme acknowledges that psychology is inextricably engaged with the global and local communities in which we live, learn and practise.

Hosted by the National Research Foundation of South Africa and the Psychological Society of South Africa, under the aegis of the International Union of Psychological Science, ICP 2012 will be held at the award-winning Cape Town International Convention Centre, on 22–27 July next year. Offering a variety of tours and wildlife safaris for delegates and guests, ICP 2012 will allow BPS members to discover the unrivalled beauty of Cape Town, as well as the amazing diversity and hospitality of the South African people.

Already over 300 experts in their fields the world over have accepted invitations to present workshops, keynote addresses, symposia, controversial debates, and state-of-the-science and translational policy research lectures. Amongst the leading experts who will present at ICP 2012 are Martin Seligman, Elizabeth Loftus, Paul Ekman, David Myers, Toni Antonucci, Michael Rutter, Barbara Wilson, Isaac Prilleltensky, Michael Wessels, and Reuven Bar-On. Abstract submissions and other information are available at

ICP 2012 promises to be an unforgettable professional and scientific experience in a unique cultural environment. South African psychologists look forward to welcoming BPS members to Cape Town and exploring how psychology can make a positive impact on the world around us.

Dr Saths Cooper

President: 30th International Congress of Psychology

New PPB Chair

The Board of Trustees has appointed David Murphy as the new Chair of the Society’s Professional Practice Board (PPB).

The role of PPB is to ‘establish and promote best practice in the delivery of psychological services’ across all of the domains of applied psychology. It produces a wide range of materials, including professional practice guidelines, reports, policy statements, and web-based practitioner resources for members. Recently published guidance includes the Guidelines on the Use of Electronic Health Records and also Obesity in the UK: A Psychological Perspective.

As PPB Chair, David aims to facilitate joint working between Divisions and Groups of practitioner psychologists, promote professional practice issues within the Society’s Board of Trustees and promote the professional practice of psychology to the Board’s wide range of external stakeholders.

David is Head of Psychology Services within Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London and is a full member of the Divisions of Clinical, Health and Neuropsychology. He is currently completing his term as Director of the Division of Clinical Psychology Professional Standards Unit.

On his appointment, David said: ‘I certainly feel privileged to have been appointed to this important position. I do feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders to effectively represent the very broad range of practitioner psychologists represented on the Board. However, I know that the Division Chairs and other members of the Board are all highly skilled and experienced in their own areas as well as being committed to the overall aims of the Society. I see my role as providing leadership particularly in helping to identify shared goals and fostering collaboration in order to achieve these.’


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