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

The Royal Naval College in Greenwich has been described as ‘the great baroque masterpiece of English architecture’. It was there that I chaired the Society’s Board of Trustees in November as we held both our annual strategy meeting and a regular business meeting. Our Board of Trustees is the governing body of the Society and is made up of the Chairs of the five Boards (Membership Standards, Professional Practice, Psychology Education, Publications and Communications, Research)  as well as nominees from the Representative Council, the President Elect, Vice President, President and Honorary Treasurer, and Honorary General Secretary.

At the Greenwich meetings we welcomed two new members: David Murphy, who was recently appointed as Chair of the Professional Practice Board, and Lindsey Moon, who is Chair of the Representative Council.

A major item of business was discussing the implementation of the recommendations from the Society’s communication review. This was commissioned in the light of feedback from the membership and the recommendations are designed to improve our external communications and engagement in particular.

No one has ever described the hotel at East Midlands Airport as a masterpiece of baroque architecture – or of any other kind, come to that – but we had equally important and fruitful discussions when the Society’s General Assembly was held there. Improving our communication with members and the wider world was again an important theme as we enjoyed a presentation from Kate Waters, the Society’s marketing officer, on current and planned initiatives to reach out to different areas of our membership.

One important section of that membership is the youngest, and last week I travelled to the University of Central Lancashire in Preston to take part in one of this year’s two Psychology4Students public engagement events (see p.16). These are intended to give sixth form and undergraduate students an introduction to studying, and possibly working in, psychology.

The event was a sell-out and opened with Mark Wetherell presenting some of his research on stress mechanisms and also describing how his career developed as a researcher. The other keynote speakers were Charlie Frowd, Deborah Riby, and Catherine Loveday (who stepped in as a last-minute replacement). During the day I was delighted to be able to present prizes to Holly Cuthbert for her outstanding psychology A-level performance, and Sanaah Iyyaz who achieved the top mark in the Scottish Highers.A similar event, opened by my colleague Peter Banister (the Society’s President Elect), took place further south in the Watford Coliseum a few days later, attended by 700 students.

On 9 November I travelled rather further than Preston to take part in the first Europe-wide psychological conference for policymakers. This was held at the European Parliament in Brussels and was organised by the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA) to mark its 30th anniversary. It was hosted by three MEPs – Leonidas Donskis, Nadja Hirsch and Vilja Savisaar-Toomast – and supported by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

The aim of the conference was to provide Members of the European Parliament, officials from the European Commission and other European bodies with up-to-date information on psychology and what it can offer to European society. The conference highlighted psychologists’ expertise and possible contributions to policymaking in areas including health, education, work, community and road traffic. It was attended by 120 people from 28 countries, including experts from several psychological specialisms and more than 20 EU policymakers. The broad scope of psychology and its relevance for Europe’s policy-making process was the key message.

I was particularly impressed by the last presentation of the day, which was made by Susan Michie, Professor of Health Psychology at University College London. She outlined the psychological principles of behaviour change and illustrated the logic and necessity of changing people’s behaviours using examples from the recent H1N1 pandemic and from obesity.

Michie presented a model of behaviour change that considers capability, motivation and opportunity. Influencing these in a well-planned and coordinated way can greatly increase the effectiveness of behaviour change interventions. Since most EU policies aim for some sort of behaviour change, this model might well be considered when devising future policies.

After a series of statements by experts from other fields, the conference was concluded by Vilja Savisaar-Toomast MEP from Estonia, who stressed the importance of policy inputs by psychologists and welcomed the prospect of more policy-oriented conferences in the future.

Improving our presence internationally is an important aim of the Society’s Trustees and Boards. In support of this agenda I had the pleasure of meeting Carol Goodheart, President of the American Psychological Association (APA) 2010, who was giving a keynote address at the Division of Clinical Psychology annual conference in Birmingham at the start of December.

Carol’s address was entitled ‘Psychology Practice in Healthcare: Design for Tomorrow’, and she described a blueprint for the delivery of high-quality psychological care. The presentation was originally developed as her Presidential Address, but as she said, psychologists across the globe face the same challenges in delivering practice that is informed by a robust evidence base and judged against coherent outcome measures, while engaging with new technologies and coping with a diminishing spend in the healthcare sector. There is clearly much to learn from the American experience.

Finally, I wish you all a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. 

Award for Distinguished Contributions to Professional Psychology
Nimisha Patel

The Society’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Professional Psychology has gone to Dr Nimisha Patel, a Reader in Clinical Psychology at the University of East London (UEL) and Consultant Clinical Psychologist at the International Centre for research in Health and Human Rights. This prestigious award from the Professional Practice Board is given in recognition of Dr Patel’s unusually significant contribution to professional practice where she has drawn on clinical psychology and human rights, in order to develop the tools and resources to identify and address the psychological and legal implications and consequences of torture, war, rape, state-sanctioned violence and racism. She has published with colleagues an award-winning book for trainers in clinical psychology looking at racism and culture, and other significant clinical and ethical research practice guidelines of national and international relevance.

Dr Patel has also been a consultant for the Department of Health regarding the provision of psychological services to Black and Minority Ethnic people and an independent expert on torture and organised violence to many international institutions, including the United Nations. In nominating Dr Patel, Professor Christine Horrocks (Manchester Metropolitan University) wrote: ‘Dr Patel questions the extent to which psychologists reinforce inequalities by failing to take a critical stance towards psychology’s existing theories, methods and practices, and in doing so endorse human rights violations. She argues that some of the core philosophical and ideological assumptions underpinning the discipline may contribute to the perpetration of abuses of power. Dr Patel’s work proposes a number of ways in which psychologists and other health care practitioners can engage in social action and in the prevention of gross human rights abuses and facilitate the empowerment of those who have been subjected to such violations.’

Supporting this nomination, Professor Erica Burman (Manchester Metropolitan University), a psychologist and Consultant Group Analyst, noted that Dr Patel’s interdisciplinary psychological and legal work ‘has been the bedrock for significant current debates on and revisions to domestic and international human rights law relevant to torture survivors. Recognition of her immense contribution is an acknowledgement of her visionary ability and her inspirational role for other psychologists, and of her interdisciplinary work combining theory, clinical practice, research and policy, alongside organisational leadership and participation in international decision-making.’ Dr Patel describes torture as an extreme form of discrimination, and her commitment to this field is a continuation of her work on racism and social inequalities and developing appropriate psychological services for minority ethnic people in the UK. Her work on the intersection between psychology and human rights law continues to focus on torture, organised violence and armed conflict, including on the role of psychologists in the prevention of torture; the provision of health and social care for torture survivors and their families; in justice and holding states accountable for torture crimes and in challenging psychologists’ complicity in torture. She says that ‘at the heart of this work is being reminded regularly by torture survivors and human rights defenders globally of moral, existential and political questions about what it is to be human, and to witness the capacity of torture survivors to suffer profound pain, emotional, spiritual and physical, and yet in the same moment, to demonstrate the capacity for survival, hope and endurance. It is an immense privilege, and deeply humbling, to witness the height of the human spirit and to be reminded of who we are and what we can be, as human beings. The question for all psychologists remains – what are our professional and social responsibilities in challenging torture?’

Public engagement award

Claudia Hammond, the psychologist and broadcaster, is to receive the British Psychological Society’s 2012 Public Engagement and Media Award.

As recipient of the award, Ms Hammond will present a public lecture at the Society’s Annual Conference, which takes place in April next year in London. She will also receive a £500 prize.

Upon hearing the news of her award Ms Hammond said: ‘I really am honoured to receive this award. Psychology is a great subject with so much to offer in so many spheres of life. Although my programmes and books are aimed at the general public, I’m determined to cover the topic accurately and fairly, so the support from BPS members means a lot to me.’

The award recognises the work of a psychologist who, either directly or through broadcast and print media, has made an outstanding contribution to raising the profile of psychology with the general public.

In response to the announcement of the 2012 award, Dr Ceri Parsons, Chartered Psychologist and Chair of the Society’s Media and Press Committee said: ‘There were two exceptional candidates, but the result shows Claudia’s status in the public eye as someone who communicates psychological ideas with a level of clarity and critical awareness.’

Ms Hammond has almost 20 years’ experience of communicating a wide range of psychological research through her broadcasting and writing career. She is the current presenter of BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind, which reaches an audience of around 1.2 million listeners each week. 

HIV support standards

Despite significant medical advances in HIV treatment, people living with HIV experience significantly higher rates of psychological difficulties than the general population. Psychological support improves both mental and physical health and reduces the risk of HIV transmission. Yet the availability and quality of psychological support for people living with HIV is currently variable.

Jointly produced by the British Psychological Society, British HIV Association and Medical Foundation for AIDS & Sexual Health, with the active engagement of a multidisciplinary working party, the first ever UK standards for psychological support for adults living with HIV describe the support that all adults living with HIV should receive, from a wide range of professional groups, peers and informal providers, to enhance their mental health and their cognitive, emotional and behavioural well-being. They focus on:
I    the promotion of mental health and well-being;
I    the early detection of psychological difficulties; and
I    the provision of appropriate interventions for those who need them.

A valuable tool for both providers and commissioners, they support the development and maintenance of high-quality, cost-effective services and care pathways for adults living with HIV.
I To download the standards, see

Interpreters in mental health

A DVD and good practice guidelines on Working with Interpreters in Mental Health made by Professor Rachel Tribe (University of East London and a Fellow of the BPS) on behalf of the Department of Health (DoH) were launched at the Royal College of Psychiatrists recently. The event was hosted by the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP), Professor Sue Bailey, and was organised in conjunction with the Race and Culture faculty of the BPS and the DoH.

The sold-out event was well attended by psychiatrists, psychologists and representatives of the DoH, who have to date received requests for approximately 2000 copies of the DVD.

Professor Bailey was pleased to have a joint event between the two professional groupings, and further joint ventures are planned. One of these is a panel on Communication to be held at the International Congress of Psychiatry in 2012 to be led by Professor Bailey, Baroness Sheila Hollins, Dr Helen Miller and Professor Tribe.

Student awards
The Psychology Education Board has made A-level and Scottish Highers Awards to the highest-scoring students across each of the examination boards.

The students received their certificate at the Psychology4Students events (see p.16) in the winter as well as a copy of the Society’s Book Award-winning book and a student bursary to the Festival of Science. The schools of the winners also received a certificate and two copies of the book.

The successful students were Cristina Paca (AQA, Sutton Valence School, Kent); Sophie Grubb (AQA, Cirencester College), Joshua Brunert (AQA, Watford Grammar School for Boys), Holly Cuthbert (WJEC, Newcastle Upon Tyne Church High School), Amorette Perkins (Edexcel, Paston College, Norfolk), Andrianna Christodoulou (Edexcel, Oaks Park High School, Essex) and Sanaah Iyaaz (Scottish Highers, Anniesland College, Glasgow).

HPC – some questions answered

The Society’s Professional Practice Board (PPB) met
with the Health Professions Council’s President Anna van der Gaag and Chief Executive Marc Seale on Friday 28 October 2011.

The HPC regulates 15 professions and has 219,000 registrants. The key focus of the HPC is public protection, and whilst the Health and Social Care Bill will make significant changes there will be no new statutory regulation of healthcare professions for the foreseeable future other than the regulation of social workers in England from 2012, and potentially herbal medicine. The Bill will, however, give the HPC powers to establish voluntary registers. A consultation on the process will be launched shortly regarding the criteria HPC use to determine whether a new register should be developed by the HPC, and the Society was encouraged to contribute to this consultation. Following this the HPC will begin to look at specific groups against these criteria who might be eligible to join a voluntary register. These new powers to establish voluntary registers do not replace the HPC’s existing powers to make recommendations for statutory regulation.

Prior to the meeting PPB members had formulated questions related to the HPC’s complaints process, voluntary registers, grandparenting, the educational threshold and protected titles. The debate is summarised as follows:

Why do the HPC reveal names to the public of professionals who are subject to complaints before the hearing reaches its conclusions? Could an alternative be to inform the employer instead?
There is a difference between criminal behaviour and questions about professional practice. The former is taken to the police. If not criminal, danger to public is assessed by the HPC.

Publishing names is not needed to protect the public so please could you explain why names are published? Previous systems protected professionals who were found innocent. The names were not published and records were not amended, why has this changed? Could the use of initials of professionals be introduced instead of full names?
The HPC fitness to practise process is not about punishment. Names appear on the HPC’s website only after a period of investigation. It is standard practice for the HPC to publish the names four weeks prior to a hearing. Informing an employer alone does not meet the HPC’s public protection remit neither does just using the initials of the registrant. The names are removed immediately if the case is found to be not well founded. Of the total number of complaints received only a small proportion go through to the hearing stage and thereby on to the website.

A detailed serious complaint that has been made against an individual can be visible on the website one week but then disappear the next with no explanation.

It would not be appropriate for the details of the complaint to remain on the searchable database after a complaint was found to be not well founded. However, fitness to practise hearing conclusions are a public record and are available via the HPC website.

The name of person making a complaint against a professional is not made public, even if the complaint is not upheld, why is this?
The complainant’s identity is not publicised on the website since the purpose of publication is related to public protection. However, once the case comes to a full hearing, complainants become witnesses and at this point their identities are normally made public and are therefore on the public record. All material about the complaint is made available to the registrant prior to a hearing. Complaints come from a range of stakeholders, as indicated below:
Professionals     10%
Employers     30%
Public     34%
Police     4%
HPC         22%
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 vexatious complaints process, which is available via the HPC’s website.

If criminal activity is to be recorded by the HPC, could this influence the decision of an employer and potentially adversely affect equality of opportunity. Would the HPC review what information is recorded and made public?

If CRB checks look at HPC information at point of pre-hearing, the record could suggest malpractice on CRB check.

Does the HPC record affect CRB checks?
If an allegation is serious enough then it will be recorded on an enhanced CRB check.

What are the current timings around handling complaints, and are they being met?
It is not possible to conclude an allegation in less than 11 months because of the time periods stipulated for responses at each stage. The mean is currently 15 months and the median 14 months. The first stage is completed within five to six months.

Are members of the same profession always involved in the investigation?
Yes, someone from the same part of the Register and domain is always involved in the investigation. Should it be necessary the panel can call on an expert witness. The expert witness is agreed by both parties. 72 per cent of fitness to practise cases are related to conduct. In 2011, for the profession of psychology there were 118 cases. Of the 118 cases two registrants had been struck off, three suspended and seven had sanctions/conditions of practice.

While being aware that HPC ‘owns’ the title of e.g. ‘Counselling Psychologist’ we would like to ascertain that the use of such terms by members to describe themselves within the BPS Divisional structure is admissible. We are aware that the individual needs to make clear when they are talking about their HPC Registration and when their Divisional membership of BPS.

For Society members who are not eligible for registration with the HPC, it is acceptable to use ‘I am a member of the Division of Counselling Psychology’. The Chief Executive of the HPC asked members to inform the Council if people were practising and using a protected title but were not registered. If it is considered that there should be additional protected titles, such as Child Psychologist or Business Psychologist, the Society needs to make a strong case to the HPC.

Please outline the HPC’s grandparenting process.

Grandparenting is based on the principle that people working as psychologists before the introduction of regulation have the right to continue work. Grandparenting criteria do not relate to the training an individual has undertaken only that they have been engaged in ‘Lawful, safe and effective practice’ for the relevant period before the register opened. Grandparenting applicants once registered are required to work within the limits of their competence. Those who had been working as psychologists before regulation must apply for registration before the end of the grandparenting period, which is July 2012. 

Please outline the HPC’s view on post-qualification registers.
The HPC conducted a consultation on establishing post-qualification registers including that currently held by the BPS for Clinical Neuropsychology. The Education and Training Committee agreed that it would generally not establish post-qualification registers, although consideration would be given to exceptional cases. In the future it remains possible for Clinical Neuropsychology to become a standalone domain within the practitioner psychology section of the register.

A number of Health Psychology courses had been approved by the HPC which were not Doctoral Level awards.

Prior to the opening of the register, the educational threshold (SET1) for different domains was set at doctoral or master’s plus additional experience depending on the domain. The HPC Education and Training Committee had considered a proposal to discontinue specifying an educational threshold for particular professions, however this proposal had been rejected and the current practice will remain for the foreseeable future. Specific queries regarding accreditation of individual health psychology courses could be taken up with the HPC’s Director of Education and Chief Executive.

The Chair of PPB, David Murphy, thanked colleagues from HPC for attending and engaging in an extremely helpful and constructive discussion with the Board.

The Society’s 2012 CPD Directory is now available.
The 2012 Directory illustrates our commitment to providing opportunities for members to take part in appropriate professional development. The programme of CPD workshops will be updated throughout the year as new courses become available; for the most up-to-date information keep an eye on the events listing on the Society’s website:

Picks from Society journals

British Journal of Social Psychology People categorise others in social ways, but do these processes generalise to technical devices, such as robots? Friederike Eyssel and Dieta Kuchenbrandt (University of Bielefeld, Germany) asked participants to form an impression of a newly developed robot prototype, varying the group membership of the robot by using either a German or Turkish name, and telling participants that the robots had either been developed in Germany versus in Turkey. Participants subsequently rated the ‘in-group’ robot more favourably on dimensions such as warmth, design preference and whether they would be prepared to live with it, and they also anthropomorphised it more strongly than the ‘out-group’ robot.

How does Geert Wilders, leader of the far-right Party For Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, justify discriminatory measures for Muslim citizens? Maykel Verkuyten (Utrecht University) looked
at Wilders’ contributions to four parliamentary debates and newspaper articles. The analysis shows that Wilders consistently makes a distinction between Islam as a belief system and Muslims as
a group of people. Defending and preserving Western liberal values against Islam is construed as a moral imperative. The author concludes that ‘social psychologists studying prejudice and discrimination should pay more attention to the distinction between person categories and ideological categories, and to political leadership.’ (In the British Journal of Social Psychology)

Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
Do some depressed people effectively have a ‘taboo on pleasure’, struggling with allowing themselves to experience positive emotions in general? Paul Gilbert (Kingsway Hospital, Derby) and colleagues have found a very high correlation between depression and a new ‘fear of happiness’ scale, assessed by items such as ‘I am frightened to let myself become too happy’. ‘We should not assume that “challenging negative thoughts” or increasing positive behaviours necessarily are experienced positively,’ the authors said.

Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
What makes a good paper? In JOOP at least, according to an editorial, it is one that is (1) potent; (2) proficient; (3) prescient; or (4) pragmatic. Using a typology consisting of high or low theoretical/conceptual content, high or low methodological rigour, and high or low practical relevance, it is also possible to identify popularist, pompous, pedantic or puerile papers. The December issue also contains a target article and commentaries on assessing ‘good’ qualitative research in the work psychology field.

I    Society members can access all BPS journals free via

News from BPS journals
25 years after Bruce and Young
We are delighted to announce that the British Journal of Psychology has just published a special issue, guest edited by Stefan R. Schweinberger and A. Mike Burton, entitled ‘Person perception 25 years after Bruce and Young (1986)’.

The issue, published in BJP 102.4 pays tribute to Vicki Bruce and Andy Young’s outstanding contribution to the field of person perception, and the impact of their seminal paper, ‘Understanding face recognition’, published in the British Journal of Psychology in 1986. ‘The issue is made up of a collection of theoretical and empirical papers from scholars in the field who study unimpaired person perception with methods from experimental psychology and the cognitive neurosciences.’

The special issue contains contributions from the following authors:
Ruth Campbell
Pascal Belin, Patricia E. G. Bestelmeyer, Marianne Latinus and Rebecca Watson
Vaidehi Natu and Alice J. O’Toole
Stefan R. Schweinberger, Christian Walther, Romi Zäske and Gyula Kovács
Peggy Dörr, Grit Herzmann and Werner Sommer
Dan Nemrodov and Roxane J. Itier
Linda Jeffery and Gillian Rhodes
Viola Macchi Cassia
Thomas Straube, Martin Mothes-Lasch
and Wolfgang H. R. Miltner
Kimberly A. Quinn and C. Neil Macrae
Tamara Rakic, Melanie C. Steffens and Amélie Mummendey
Iris Gordon and James W. Tanaka
Holger Wiese
J. Richard Hanley
Natalie Butcher, Karen Lander, Hui Fang and Nick Costen
A. Mike Burton, Rob Jenkins and Stefan R. Schweinberger
Andrew W. Young and Vicki Bruce

BPS members will get free access to this issue as a benefit of their membership.
To read the issue online, please go to:

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