President’s column; sexual and gender minority guidelines; Big Bang; work–life balance; DSM-5; expert witnesses; Gordon Allport prize; and more

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

The annual meeting between the Society and the Health Professions Council (HPC) took place on 1 March. Once a year HPC meets all the professional groups it regulates, usually via their professional bodies, to explore any outstanding issues from either party. Full details of our meeting will be published on the Society website, but the meeting covered the forthcoming end of the ‘grandparenting’ route by which people who do not hold an approved qualification, but were practising as a psychologist before the HPC Register opened, can apply for registration with the HPC. This route closes at the end of June 2012.

The consultation timetable on the Standards of Proficiency for Practitioner Psychologists was discussed, as were ways the Society can ensure maximum engagement with and impact from the process. The HPC has also published advance notice of the first CPD audit for psychologists, which will begin in March 2013, a couple of months before the renewal of registrations. Under this audit, a sample of registrants will be asked to submit a CPD profile. HPC encourages registrants to use their professional body to support this aspect of regulation, and you may find it useful to use the Society’s myCPD system ( to record your CPD activity, but do check the HPC’s precise requirements if you are one of those asked to submit a profile. The Society will be undertaking further work to support members on this aspect of practice.

Sample CPD profiles specific to forensic and health psychology are already available on the HPC website to enable people to look at what is required in terms of their own practice. The HPC has been improving its approach to fitness to practise issues and we hope to provide more information on this in the future.

Finally the Law Commissions of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has opened a consultation on the regulation of healthcare professionals. This provides an excellent summary of a complex area, with recommendations on the provision of a more modern and flexible system to enhance public protection. The Society will respond via our consultation response team.

Following the successful transition of our journal publishing activities to Wiley-Blackwell at the start of 2011, I’m delighted to bring members up to speed on some of the existing and forthcoming benefits.
All BPS members can access our 11 flagship journals online at no charge – this includes the full archive volumes for each journal, which equates to over 580 years of articles spanning the development of psychological research. Members can also enjoy free online access to a selection of other psychology journals published by Wiley-Blackwell.
As our journals evolve, so do their offerings to our members as a key resource:
I    Virtual Issues provide easy access to collections of research in themed areas (e.g. Legal and Criminological Psychology recently pooled its research in the area of interrogation techniques, information-gathering and (false) confessions);
I    Podcasts provide members with a further level of interaction with articles and special issues – the British Journal of Developmental Psychology’s recent podcast on gender and relationships is fascinating and relevant to
a wide audience;
I    Practitioner Points, published just underneath an article’s abstract, provide our practising members with a digest of how the research is relevant to professional practice.

Future developments with Wiley-Blackwell
will see many more resources for members:
I    the introduction of Teaching and Learning Guides will provide our students and members who teach with educational aids;
I    Video Abstracts will add yet another multimedia aspect to our research;
I    Course packs will be developed in conjunction with our Learning Centre to provide collections of research to support
a member’s professional development and learning.

We are keen to explore our CPD programme with Wiley-Blackwell, using our shared expertise and capability to provide members with the very best in professional development resources.

We also have a fantastic book club with Wiley-Blackwell, which entitles all of our members to discounts and bonus material.

We are eagerly awaiting the launch of the BPS Gateway – a flagship website that will bring together these resources into one easily findable and accessible place. As well as acting as a crucial gateway to our publications portfolio, the BPS Gateway will join book, journal, audio and visual resources together to provide members with an innovative portal to make the most of our various educational, research and practising resources.

We have to thank Graham Powell, Chair of the Publications and Communications Board, for steering our relationship with Wiley-Blackwell over the last 18 months.

The Northern Ireland Branch of the Society (NIBPS), together with the local Divisional Branches, has a lively programme for the year ahead.

Already the seventh annual Flavour of Psychology lectures have been held at Queen’s University Belfast, as well as a joint careers event with the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI). At the end of March the All Ireland Student Congress, which is organised by students for students, drew an attendance of over 300 to the same venue.

On 4 April the Divisions of Health Psychology of BPS (NI) and PSI will hold their ninth Annual Conference – 'Psychology Health and Medicine’ in Belfast, and the NIBPS Annual Conference takes place from 11-13 May. A number of public lectures are planned too.

The Northern Ireland branches of the Society’s Divisions are also very active. DECPNI branch have Louise Bomber on attachment, DFPNI have Dr Iain Bourne giving a forensic workshop and public lecture in September. DCoP has a public lecture by Meg Barker of the Open University at Magee College, Derry, on 2 May and DCPNI has Dan Hughes coming to do Levels 1 & 2 DBT Training in September. Two joint events with PSI are planned to coincide with the Olympic flame coming to Ireland – one in Dublin and one in Belfast. Further information on all of these events on or by e-mailing [email protected]

Northern Ireland psychologists continue to be influential in the political world. Professor Nichola Rooney, Past Chair of DCPNI, has been appointed as Clinical Psychology Adviser to the Chief Medical Officer for NI. Meanwhile, NIBPS members continue to respond to local government consultations through their Divisions.

A particularly positive development in February was the launch of an All-Party Group on Science and Technology at Stormont. This new group, on which Professor Carol McGuinness, the Chair of NIBPS, and Anne Kerr, NIBPS administrator, will represent NIBPS members, has been set up to tackle a host of problems. These include STEM-related job vacancies that cannot be filled, the position of science in both the primary and secondary school curriculum (specifically the pull away from science subjects that are perceived to be more difficult) and the effects of financial cuts in higher education on more expensive science subjects. On the positive side, everyone recognises that NI had a rich heritage in innovation and invention. 


Guidelines for sexual and gender minority work

New guidelines for psychologists working therapeutically with sexual and gender minority clients have been published via the Society’s website.

The guidelines comprise 19 statements covering: the socio-political context and attitudes towards sexual and gender minorities; key issues in sexual and gender minority work; children, young people, schools and families; and education and professional development. The statements can be cross-referenced to a more detailed document, covering new ground and complex issues such as gender reassignment surgery, conversion therapy and homophobic bullying in schools that can be challenging therapeutically.

Elizabeth Shaw (Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Chair of the working party for the guidelines) said: ‘While chairing the Faculty of HIV and Sexual Health of the Division of Clinical Psychology I had the privilege of being in a position to raise the profile of issues around sex and sexuality within the Division. The work took the form of writing good practice guidelines for training and consolidation
of clinical psychology practice in HIV and sexual health, including
a curriculum and workshops around sexuality awareness training;
a survey of clinical psychology training courses provision in the area of sex and sexuality; a joint conference with the then Lesbian and Gay Psychology Section; and the editing of a teaching manual for self-reflection around issues of sexuality for trainers and clinicians. We also felt that, as an important area of diversity, sexuality and gender therapeutic practice guidelines would help other psychologists with thoughtful best practice when working with these issues. We hope that the broader therapeutic community will also find this guidance useful in this rewarding aspect of their work.’

The working party, under the auspices of the Society’s Professional Practice Board, invited representation from the Division of Clinical Psychology, the Sexualities Section, the Division of Counselling Psychology, Psychologists Specialising in Psychotherapy, Psychologists working in the Charing Cross Gender Reassignment Clinic, educational psychologists and forensic psychologists. ‘To be able to develop a balanced and contemporary structure and contents,’ Shaw said, ‘experts outside the profession and all Sections and Divisions were consulted at different stages to produce the document as it stands.’
I     See 


News from BPS journals
Working with Wiley-Blackwell, the BPS journals now have a number of podcasts available to Society members:

British Journal of Developmental Psychology
Following the 2011 podcast, we’re pleased to announce that the 2012 BJDP podcast is now available. The 2012 BJDP podcast focuses on ‘implicit and explicit theory of mind’
as explored in the most recent special issue (BJDP, Volume 30, issue 1 – March 2012). Listeners will be able to hear Dr Jason Low and Dr Josef Perner discussing this important area.

British Journal of Educational This inaugural BJEP podcast focuses on George Hruby’s Annual Review paper – ‘Three requirements for justifying an educational neuroscience’ (BJEP, Volume 82, Issue 1 – March 2012). Listeners will hear Linda Siegel and George Hruby discuss the Annual Review paper in more detail.

British Journal of Social Psychology
The 2012 BJSP podcast offers listeners the opportunity to hear Professor Susan Fiske and Professor John Dixon discuss Susan’s landmark article, as published in the BJSP – ‘Journey to the edges: Social structures and neural maps of intergroup processes’ (BJSP, Volume 51 Issue 1 – March 2012).

Articles in these and other Society journals published by Wiley are available free to all BPS members via


Big Bang Fair

March saw the Society participate in the Big Bang Fair, the flagship event for National Science and Engineering Week 2012. The nation’s largest grassroots celebration of the sciences, engineering and technology took place from 15 to 17 March with around 45,000 descending on Birmingham’s NEC.

The Big Bang is delivered by over 150 organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors. Led by EngineeringUK in partnership with the British Science Association, the Institute of Physics, the Science Council, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Young Engineers, the event is supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills as well as numerous sponsors from industry.
The Fair is aimed at showing young people just how many exciting and rewarding opportunities there are out there for them with the right experience and qualifications. Attendees meet inspiring engineers and scientists from some of the biggest and most interesting companies in the UK and receive dedicated careers advice, so that young people go away with a fresh, new perspective on where their school subjects can lead them.

For 2012, the Society had an exhibition space to showcase psychological science within the Body Talk Zone. This incorporated a timeline exhibit – ‘Origins: The evolution and impact of psychological science’ – highlighting the key historical and current contributions psychological science (look out for the interactive Origins timeline website to be launched in April at; go to for a YouTube preview). Alongside this, and in partnership with the Departments of Psychology at Aston, Birmingham, Worcester and York, there were a number of psychology demonstrations to give the delegates (ranging from 5- to 19-year-olds)
a real hands-on experience. Demonstrations included illusions, synchronised bouncing, portion size, chimpanzee communication, healthy eating, and memory.


DSM-5 under fire

Worldwide debate continues around the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, following the Society’s robust response to the DSM consultation exercise (see

The lead author for the Society was the then Chair of the Division of Clinical Psychology, Professor Peter Kinderman. The Society warned about the dangers of ‘medicalisation of natural and normal responses to...experience’ in the response on the new edition, which is due to be published in 2013.

This in turn prompted the Society for Humanistic Psychology, a subdivision of the American Psychological Association, to create an online petition and write an open letter to the DSM committee calling for a scientific review of some of the more controversial proposals such as ‘attenuated psychosis syndrome’ and ‘apathy syndrome’ (see The petition now has over 12,000 signatures, and its aims and concerns have been supported by over 50 organisations, including the BPS. One of the loudest voices has been that of Professor Allen Frances, former Chair of the DSM-IV Task Force, who believes that the introduction of unevidenced new categories and the expansion of existing ones is ‘radical and reckless’.

The debate has not stopped there. Psychiatrist Professor Nick Craddock and Professor Peter Kinderman gave a press conference on 9 February in London, expressing concern that the shy or bereaved might find themselves with a diagnosis of mental illness. They were supported by quotes from a number of other prominent psychologists and psychiatrists. The story was widely reported in the British broadsheet and tabloid press and across the world, including the USA, Canada and New Zealand.

The DSM committee has not, to date, agreed to submit its proposals and evidence for external scientific review, although the final round of consultation was due to commence ‘in spring 2012’. However, it seems unlikely that the story will go away. The campaigning group Mindfreedom ( is planning to ‘Occupy’ the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in Philadelphia
on 5 May as a protest at the new manual.

The Society’s statement on DSM can be found at, and all the relevant articles, responses and new developments can be found at
Lucy Johnstone, Division of Clinical Psychology Communications Lead

Work–life balance factsheets

The Society’s Working Group on Work–Life Balance has launched three new factsheets to help employees, organisations and psychologists manage work–life balance more effectively.Based on a systematic review of the literature and tailored to each audience, the factsheets are grounded in sound research, providing
a clear and jargon-free explanation of the psychological perspective
on work–life balance. The benefits to employees and organisations are considered, together with how to identify and manage potential risk factors. Some top tips for practice are also provided.

Gail Kinman, co-chair of the working group (part of the Division of Occupational Psychology) said: ‘It is our mission to ensure that work–life balance remains at the heart of corporate practice and is acknowledged and managed proactively for all members of society. By drawing on the wide and rich evidence base that has emerged from psychological research, our factsheets will help the wider public to become better informed on
the topic.’

The aims of the working group in general are to:
I    raise awareness of work–life balance as a core issue for occupational and organisational psychologists;
I    promote a triple agenda, marrying organisational and individual needs whilst ensuring work–life balance issues are adequately reflected in government policies;
I    consider the current state of knowledge, and disseminate up-to-date psychological evidence
and highlight best practice to individuals and organisations on how to manage the work–home interface more effectively; and
I    identify priorities for future research.
I    The factsheets can be downloaded from

Intergroup relations 

Richard Crisp, Professor of Psychology at the University
of Kent, and his collaborator, Dr Rhiannon Turner from the University of Leeds, have been awarded the 2012 Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize for a paper on the benefits of living in diverse, multicultural societies.

The prize is awarded annually for ‘the best paper or article of the year on intergroup relations’. Crisp and Turner won the award for their 2011 Psychological Bulletin paper ‘Cognitive adaptation to the experience of social and cultural diversity’.

The paper uncovers evidence that living in diverse, multicultural societies can produce a wide range of benefits associated with ‘flexible thinking’ – including enhanced creativity, problem-solving and negotiation skills.

Professor Crisp is a past winner of the British Psychological Society’s Spearman Medal for published psychological research, and is Deputy Chair of the Society’s Research Board. Dr Turner won the Society’s Doctoral Award in 2007. 

Evaluation of outcomes
The outcomes of several consultations were received during February and a number of positive impacts of the Society’s responses were identified, including the following which were in line with the Society’s recommendations:
I    Revised Early Years Foundation Stage (Department for Education) – additional practice guidance has been commissioned to support practitioners in delivering effective support for the prime and specific areas of early learning and developers.
I    Work Capability Assessment Call for Evidence (Harrington Review; Department for Work and Pensions) – Professor Harrington has recommended that a review be conducted with the aim of improving the descriptors for mental, intellectual and cognitive conditions. Further recommendations include a greater focus on research and evaluation, and increased training and monitoring of the health professionals who conduct assessments.
I    Service User Experience in Adult Mental Health (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence [NICE]) – this guideline has now been amended to include specific reference to Independent Mental Health Advocates. Aspects of the guideline have been broadened to include service users from a wider range of minority communities and to address the needs of those with hearing and sight problems. A further amendment reflects the Society’s suggestion that, to avoid ambiguity, written information should be developed in conjunction with service user groups.
I    Guideline Development Process (NICE) – NICE have rescinded their proposal to reduce the consultation period for draft scopes from four weeks to three.

Responses submitted during February

Five responses were submitted during February, including three to NICE:
I    The Society strongly welcomed the development of two new sets of NICE guidelines – on the management of obesity in adults and in children/young people. In each case, it was recommended that guidance be included on the appropriate assessment and screening that should be carried out before starting any weight management intervention. An updated review was recommended on the role, in adults, of self-directed (e.g. web-based) approaches to weight loss, changing diet and/or physical activity.
I    Also in response to NICE, the Society welcomed the Commissioning Outcomes Framework as an exemplary initiative that will help formally embed evidence-based, cost-effective treatments across all sectors of the NHS. However, some relevant domains (most notably anxiety disorders) have not been granted indicators under the framework – a clear rationale for these omissions was requested.

Full details of all consultations, including downloadable copies of consultation papers and the Society’s responses, are available at

The preparation and submission of the Society’s responses to consultations are coordinated by the Consultations Response Team (CRT). All those holding at least graduate membership are eligible to contribute, and all interest is warmly welcomed. Please contact the CRT for further information ([email protected]; 0116 252 9508).

Expert witnesses

A report into the quality of psychological experts and their  witness reports used in family courts has identified concerns about the qualifications of experts and the quality of reports.

The British Psychological Society (BPS) welcomes the study, which was funded by the Family Justice Council. The work, led by Professor Jane Ireland, of the University of Central Lancashire and Mersey Care NHS Trust, is the first evaluation of expert evidence.

Professor Ireland, a Chartered Psychologist said: ‘The crucial decisions made by family courts on issues such as the custody of children, domestic violence and sexual violence have life-changing consequences.

‘Reports by psychological experts can play an influential role in a judge’s final decision and yet, until now, research to assess the quality of reports has not been conducted.’

Dr David Murphy, Chair of the BPS Professional Practice Board said: ‘The Society recognises how important it is that decisions reached by family courts are based on the best possible quality evidence, often this is psychological evidence.

We are particularly concerned by the finding in this research that more than one in five of the “experts” providing psychological evidence to the family courts appeared not to be qualified psychologists.

‘Professional bodies, such as the BPS, have an important role to play in establishing criteria to benchmark the quality of expert evidence, defining competencies and promoting good practice among expert witnesses.

‘The BPS would be very pleased to engage with the Department of Justice to review the role of expert witnesses in this context and develop improved codes of practice and guidelines.’

Society vacancies
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