Contact Gerry Mulhern via the Society’s Leicester office,
or e-mail: [email protected]
Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink. Seldom was Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s maxim more apt than for the people of Northern Ireland, myself included, over the festive season. Tens of thousands of homes had their water supplies cut off as reservoirs were emptied due to a catastrophic failure of the infrastructure following the coldest December on record. Long lines of the great unwashed (literally) queuing at bowsers and standpipes, like extras in some Alaskan post-apocalyptic movie. I blame global warming!
Northern Ireland Water may regret not having had a psychologist among its senior staff. The greatest challenges were not those of repairing the leaks or restoring supply, but the need to communicate, reassure and protect the vulnerable. Take the case of the 90-year-old woman who had an ample supply of bottled water delivered to her. Some time later, a visit by the Red Cross revealed that the unfortunate nonagenarian did not have the grip strength to unscrew the stubborn bottle tops, an experience not unfamiliar to many of the more able bodied among us.
The affair is of course a salutary reminder of the fundamental importance of basic utilities to any society’s capacity to function, and of our moral responsibility to assist in building capacity in developing countries and countries in transition. But surely such responsibility extends beyond the provision of basic physical needs. As the second largest psychological learned society and professional body on the planet, do we not have a responsibility to contribute to capacity building in psychology in those countries where the discipline is less well founded? I believe so, as do others to whom I have spoken during my tenure.
The International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS) currently has a Standing Committee on Capacity Building and a National Capacity Building Workgroup. It is a happy coincidence that the Workgroup is chaired by Pam Maras, our Honorary General Secretary, although I must stress that this is entirely in Pam’s role as an elected member of the IUPsyS Executive Committee. Until 2012 the regions targeted for national capacity building are Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe (defined by Council of Europe boundaries), India, and the ASEAN countries.
In a general sense, the BPS will support IUPsyS’s capacity building through its role as the so-called UK adhering body, delegated to act on behalf of the Royal Society which is formally the UK member of IUPsyS. However, my personal view is that, as an organisation, we should be seeking to do much more, including the use of some of our resources for capacity building. As President, I was pleased to have had the opportunity to raise the issue with the recently installed President of the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI), Mary Morrissey, who expressed great interest in taking forward joint initiatives around capacity building. I plan to meet Mary again soon to flesh out the detail.
Of course, our international role and responsibility extends beyond capacity building. Elsewhere I have expressed the opinion that the Society has generally underperformed internationally. Admittedly, we have worked effectively within the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA). However, our other activities have been largely confined to the appointment of representatives to various international committees and the signing of Memorandums of Understanding with several fellow societies. My sense is that little use has been made of the work of our international representatives and, although our memoranda have been useful in cementing relationships with others, their practical impact has been limited. Our Memorandum of Cooperation with PSI has proved more useful; for example, in streamlining applications to one society from members of the other. But we can do much more. In particular, we should strengthen our international relationships through Memoranda of Action, rather than understanding, a phrase for which I must thank Pam Maras.
Currently, Trustees are reviewing our international activities with a view to making more explicit everything we currently do, considering how we might improve the effectiveness of these activities, and potentially extending the range of our international involvement. Without wishing to prejudge anything, I see the way forward as through a cultural shift within the Society and a significant increase in our international budget.
As ever, your views are welcome.
Free Journals access for members
From January 2011, members of the Society will have free online access to all articles in all of the Society’s 11 journals. In addition, BPS members are able to access journal content from 32 other Wiley-Blackwell journals, including Applied Cognitive Psychology, Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, Developmental Science, Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, and many more. To access all journal content, please go to www.bps.org.uk/journals and follow links to ‘Free Online Access’ there.
Lucy Abbott, Associate Journals Publishing Manager for Wiley-Blackwell, said: ‘Wiley-Blackwell are delighted to be offering this package exclusively to BPS members, with the view to furthering the availability of and access to leading psychological research and enhancing the benefits that BPS members get as part of their commitment to the Society.’
Gerry Mulhern, Society President, added:?‘This is a significant benefit to members made possible by the our partnership with Wiley-Blackwell. Over the coming months, members can expect to see the Society's journals go from strength to strength through our association with such a leading journal publishing partner.’
Distinguished Contributions to Professional Psychology 2010
Professor Roz Shafran, who holds the Charlie Waller Chair of Evidence-based Psychological Treatment at the University of Reading, has won the Society’s 2010 Award for Distinguished Contributions to Professional Psychology. This mid-career award is made each year to recognise and celebrate a psychologist who has made an outstanding contribution to professional practice.
Nominating her for the award, Professor Emeritus Stanley Rachman from the University of British Columbia described Professor Shafran as ‘an outstanding scholar and a brilliant and extraordinarily productive clinical researcher’.
Professor Shafran is best known for setting up the Charlie Waller Institute of Evidence-based Psychological Treatment – a joint initiative between the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, Reading University and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. It was launched by Lord Layard and Professor David Clark in January 2007, when Aaron T. Beck said: ‘The aims of the Institute are laudable and will set a standard for the rest of the field.’
Another of Professor Shafran’s nominators, Dr Warren Mansell from the University of Manchester, says of the Institute: ‘This non-profit organisation is the only one to train therapists in any psychological intervention with sound scientific support, as opposed to a particular mode of intervention such as cognitive-behaviour therapy. It is unique in that only the world leaders who have developed and evaluated the treatment are invited to provide the training.’
Dr Mansell also says that the collaboration between a charity, the NHS and a higher education institution that Professor Shafran brought together in setting up the Charlie Waller Institute ‘has become a model, with enquiries about the operation of the organisation from across the country’.
Professor Shafran first studied Psychology at Oxford, graduating with a rare Congratulatory First. She then worked as a research assistant at the University of British Columbia, and Professor Emeritus Stanley Rachman recalls: ‘Within six months she was planning and supervising the design and conduct of complex experiments.’
She then returned to London and completed her PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry. In 1997 Professor Shafran won the Society’s Award for Outstanding Doctoral Research Contributions to Psychology and in 1999 obtained a doctorate in clinical psychology from the Society. She was awarded two Wellcome Trust Fellowships before taking up her current chair at Reading.
Professor Shafran has contributed to more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and seven book chapters, as well as being the joint author of the books Cognitive-behavioural Processes Across Disorders:
A Transdiagnostic Approach to Research and Treatment (OUP, 2004) and Overcoming Perfectionism (2010). She is associate editor of the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy, a scientific co-chair of the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies and a member of its scientific committee.
Professor Emeritus Stanley Rachman says: ‘Originality is a striking feature of her work, and remarkably this is evident in both her specialities – anxiety disorders and eating disorders. Her publications are so extensive that it is difficult to single out the most valuable, but in my opinion her analysis of the cognitive biases that sustain obsessive-compulsive disorders, and play a part in maintaining eating disorders, are exceptionally fine.’
The Policy Support Unit (PSU) has been asked to expand its remit, from January 2011, to cover Society responses to all non-legislative consultations, including those from NICE, and all legislative consultations except those from the devolved nations. To reflect this change, we are now called the Consultation Response Team (CRT). At the time of writing, the office was about to close for the Christmas break so this seemed a good time to summarise the consultations work conducted by the PSU during 2010.
We were delighted to assist in the submission of responses to 71 consultations during the year. These were submitted to 26 separate bodies across the UK (including governments, non-government organisations and non-departmental public bodies). The regional spread of these was as follows:
Regional base of Number of consulting body responses submitted (% of total*) England only 23 (32)
Northern Ireland only 8 (11)
Scotland only 8 (11)
Wales only 7 (10)
Two or more of the above 25 
TOTAL 71 
It was only possible for the Society to submit these responses because of the work of over 180 members of the Society. Those who took part were drawn from all levels of membership (from graduate members to Fellows) and represented all nine of the Society’s central Divisions as well as 13 of the 15 formalised Divisions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and many of the other member network groups. We would like to thank all those who took part – your contribution to making sure that the voice of psychology is heard is invaluable.
Full details of all 2010 consultations, as well as those from previous years and those currently under consideration, are available from our website: www.bps.org.uk/consult. Our website received an average of well over 1000 visits per month during 2010 and we are delighted that so many people were 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.
We would also like to thank all those who sent in Areas of Interest Forms during 2010 – over 100 in all. Almost 720 members have now contributed to Society responses since early 2007 or registered an interest in doing so in the future. Every member of at least graduate level membership is both eligible and welcome to contribute: if you would like to find out more about what is involved, just go to the Essential Documents box on the front page of our website. Alternatively, you are welcome to e-mail us at [email protected] or give us a call on 0116 252 9508.
It is not always straightforward to determine the impact of responding to consultations but we are pleased to have received feedback suggesting that, both individually and collectively, Society responses are influencing policy-makers. Once again, our sincere thanks go to all those who have contributed.
The London and Home Counties Branch will be holding a Postgraduate Symposium on 19 April at the London office on Tabernacle Street, aimed at anyone currently working on master’s or doctoral-level research.
The one-day research symposium has been designed ‘to bring together those involved in or interested in psychological research to provide an opportunity for a sharing of ideas and a chance to test out material before a sympathetic audience and provide a final “polish” – as well as an opportunity to identify any gremlins from both methodology and presentation.’ In addition to seminar sessions to discuss papers, the programme includes a talk on ‘Psychology in its place: Higher education in the 21st century’ by Professor John Radford, the winner of the first BPS Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Teaching of Psychology, and Dr Viren Swami, who will chair a Q&A session on the broad issues facing researchers.
For more information, or if you would like to present a paper, chair a session or attend as a delegate, e-mail
the branch administrator, [email protected] Those wishing to present their research should submit an abstract (500 words max) by 18 March.
Making the world a better place
How can psychologists make the world a better place? That was the question posed to attendees of the Society’s London and Nottingham Lectures, one-day events aimed at students.
Using a short form available to enter on the day, the delegates donned their thinking caps and produced some pithy and insightful entries. The winner, chosen by the Managing Editor of The Psychologist, was Emma Thompson from Friesland School in Nottingham, with the following:
Psychologists can raise the quality of life for many people. By understanding people’s motives for decisions and actions, we as psychologists can prevent the occurrence of traumatic events, both for individuals and across society. We can aim to improve people’s mental health and develop environments, such as in the workplace, which encourage productive and positive behaviour, thus improving efficiency, saving time and money. We can make the world a fairer place by understanding and eliminating factors which cloud judgement. Psychology is vital for developing a sophisticated and just society.
Emma wins a year’s Society membership and an iTunes voucher.
Winter sports conference
The inclement December weather abated sufficiently to enable over 220 delegates to make it to the second Biennial Conference of the Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology (DSEP). The setting was Camden Lock, London and the vibrant two-day event had over 60 presentations, 56 posters and five workshops.
The centrepiece of the event was keynote presentations given by Dr Geir Jordet (Norwegian School of Sport Sciences) and Professor Stuart Biddle (Loughborough University). In a fascinating talk Dr Geir Jordet used his database of all penalties taken in major football tournaments to describe, and illustrate, how pressure influences performance and the behavioural correlates
of successful and unsuccessful penalty kicks. For example, unsuccessful penalty takers are more likely to turn their back to the goal after placing the ball and take the penalty more quickly after the referee’s whistle. For the audience it was a little painful at times to watch the (many) examples of unsuccessful penalties by English players! The second keynote talk was delivered by Professor Stuart Biddle and was in recognition of his distinguished contribution to the field of sport and exercise psychology. Professor Stuart Biddle is an internationally renowned researcher in physical activity, and his talk explored the relationship between physical activity and sedentary behaviour and discussed how we can be less sedentary in our everyday lives, for example having ‘stand-up’ meetings rather than sitting down. The talk was enthusiastically received and applauded, although given the content of the talk Professor David Lavallee, Chair of DSEP, later admitted regretting not insisting on a standing ovation.
There were also two invited presentations, from Professor Stephen Palmer (City University London) and Professor Ian Maynard (Sheffield Hallam University). Professor Stephen Palmer’s talk was so popular that the venue quickly filled to capacity. He delivered an enthusiastic talk, drawing on the many counselling techniques he uses in his professional work as a coaching psychologist and how these can be applied to sport. Professor Ian Maynard gave the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) invited talk on his time as a sport psychologist during the last 20 successful years for British Sailing. This talk demonstrated the strong links that continue between DSEP and BASES and Professor Maynard clearly illustrated how sport psychology can play an important role in elite sport, and the issues that are involved in working within an elite sport over time.
The future of sport and exercise psychology was represented in talks by two award winners. Hayley Barton (Brunel University) presented the findings from her undergraduate degree on anticipation skill in female footballers that won the Division’s H.T.A Whiting Prize for best undergraduate dissertation. In a stimulating presentation Dr Pete Coffee (Staffordshire University) outlined his work on attributions conducted while a student at Exeter University that was awarded the division’s prize for the best PhD.
The real strength of the conference was observed in the quality and quantity of material presented across the range of papers, posters, symposia and workshops. Examples of the symposia were those that focused on the delivery of psychological skills in applied settings, while others covered innovative approaches to teaching. Examples of workshops included issues in professional training, and the use of hypnosis in sport. Overall, the conference provided an excellent showcase for current research, practice and innovative teaching practices in sport and exercise psychology.
The next DSEP conference will be held in London in conjunction with the Society’s 2012 Annual Conference. Having the Division’s conference alongside the Annual Conference will provide an excellent platform for the ongoing work in sport and exercise psychology. The conference already has some excellent confirmed speakers and perhaps given recent success in the Ashes the most topical of confirmed speakers is Dr Mark Bawden (Metaphorics Performance Consultants) who works as sport psychologist with the England cricket team.
Marc Jones and Martin Turner
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