meet the Trustees; Annual Conference preview; Spearman Medal; and more

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

T he President’s column this month is somewhat different, as hopefully the accompanying picture indicates. This was taken at a Board of Trustee’s meeting in London, and includes nearly all of us.
I have mentioned the Trustees on a number of occasions in my previous columns, emphasising the difficult task that we fulfil, including complying with the demands of the Charity Commission and our Royal Charter.

We have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the Society’s objectives are met and for the financial transactions of the Society.
We are all volunteers, and we are very grateful for the support that many of us have received from our various employers to allow
us to fulfil this role. Some of us are in private practice, which poses additional pressures. We rely heavily on volunteering at every level, and in all there are nearly 1000 who play an active part in running the Society, for which we are all very grateful. There is always space for more volunteers, and I urge you to put yourself forward if you are interested.

What I provide is a brief introduction to our current Trustees, who together have a wealth of experience of psychology, both academic and professional, and come from a wide variety of backgrounds. All will of course change in June, when I will step down to become the Vice President. More details for some of us are available on the BPS website.

The Trustee body nominally comprises 14 members, five elected from the Representative Council, the four Chairs of our main Boards and the five honorary officers, which include the Presidential Team, the Honorary General Secretary and the Honorary Treasurer.

As current President I lead the ‘Presidential Team’. My most recent role was as Head of Department of Psychology in Manchester Metropolitan University, but I have also worked in forensic contexts and in health contexts.

I have at times contributed to many BPS committees, most recently as Chair of the Membership Standards Board and as the inaugural Chair of the National Awarding Committee for EuroPsy.

The President Elect is Richard Mallows, who also currently fills the important Honorary Treasurer post, which he has ably done since 2008. He was Head of Department of Psychology at York St John University, where he still retains his now 40-year connection as Honorary Research Fellow. Richard has been an active member of the BPS for even longer, with wide-ranging interests particularly with respect to the development of new Sections.

Our Vice President Carole Allan was President last year. Her career in psychology has spanned both clinical practice as a clinical psychologist and also a number of academic roles. Most recently she has been the Professional Lead for Psychology in NHS Glasgow and Clyde, and she has been the Clinical Director for the Doctorate Programme in Clinical Psychology at the University of Glasgow. Carole has also been Chair of the Professional Practice Board.

The other Honorary Post is that of the Honorary General Secretary, a vital role held by Pam Maras, who was President in 2007/8. She is Professor of Social and Educational Psychology at the University of Greenwich where she is Head of the Department of Psychology and Counselling, and Director of the Research Centre for Children, Schools and Families; Pam also leads the University’s Early Career Researcher Initiative.

The Society has four main Boards that report to the Board of Trustees, each with a specific area of delegated responsibility to develop policy for approval by the Trustees. The Chairs of these Boards are all Trustees.

The Membership and Standards Board is chaired by Mark Forshaw, who until recently was a Principal Lecturer in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University and Deputy Director of the Centre for Health Psychology, but has now moved to work as a health psychologist in industry. In 2011 Mark was awarded the Division of Health Psychology Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of Health Psychology, and he has published extensively in this area.
The Professional Practice Board is chaired by David Murphy, who is a clinical neuropsychologist and heads an NHS clinical health psychology and neuropsychology service across acute hospital and community settings in West London. He also leads psychology teaching at the Imperial College School of Medicine. David has chaired the Board of Examiners in Clinical Psychology and has also served on the Division of Clinical Psychology executive as the Director of Professional Standards.

The Psychology Education Board is chaired by Dorothy Miell who is the Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Edinburgh, where she is also Professor of Social Psychology. Prior to this Dorothy worked for many years with the Open University in Psychology, and was heavily involved in the development of many courses there. She has made many contributions to the Society.

The Research Board is chaired by Judi Ellis, who is a Professor at the University of Reading School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, where she is currently the Director of Research. She has published extensively and has research interests in cognitive psychology, including ageing. Judi has been recently been elected as an Academician by the Academy of Social Sciences for her significant contribution to the social sciences.

The five remaining members of the Board of Trustees are all nominees of the Representative Council, which exists to advise the Board.
The current Chair of the Representative Council is Jill Wilkinson, who has worked in academic contexts in the University of Surrey, establishing and running accredited courses in Health and Counselling Psychology. She currently works mainly in independent practice, but she continues to teach part-time. Jill has fulfilled many roles within the Society, especially in counselling psychology.

Lyndsey Moon is a past Chair of the Representative Council. She is also a counselling psychologist and lectures at Roehampton and Warwick Universities.

In addition she has her own private psychotherapy practice. Lyndsey currently is also Chair of the Psychology of Sexualities Section. Other Council Representatives are Ken Brown, who was also President in 2004/5. He originally came from Scotland, but most of his career has been spent at Queen’s University Belfast, where he was Head of the School of Psychology and Dean of the Faculty of Science. Ken has held many roles within the Society, both at National and at Branch level.

Another recent President (2010/11) who is now a Council Representative is Gerry Mulhern, who also has worked at Queen’s University Belfast Psychology. He has had extensive experience of the Society, and done invaluable work for us in many positions and working parties, having a significant effect on the development of the Society. Gerry has recently moved to a role with the Psychological Society of Ireland, where he is the Director of Professional Development.

Finally, the last member is Gene Johnson, who is an occupational psychologist with many years experience in the corporate, consultancy, government, and academic sectors, both in this country, and in the United States and New Zealand. He currently runs his own occupational psychology and talent management consultancy. Gene has made major contributions to the Division of Occupational Psychology and is currently the Chair of the Wessex Branch.
So now you hopefully know a little more about us. Most of the Trustees will be attending the Annual Conference, along with many of our counterparts from international psychological societies; do take the opportunity if you are coming to introduce yourself to us and to let us know your views on our Society.

A very British affair

It is with great excitement that we preview the Society’s Annual Conference, due to be held on 9–11 April in the beautiful spa town of Harrogate, famous for its international conference reputation, flower shows and healing spa waters.

Our themes for 2013’s event are: education, ethics and professional practice dilemmas in psychology; the typical and atypical mind across the lifespan; and the nature and diversity of social cohesion and attachment.

High-profile keynote speakers will enhance the programme timetable and there will be a mix of workshops, symposia, oral and poster presentations throughout the conference. Social activities and networking will also feature highly on the programme.

On Tuesday all delegates will be invited to a drinks reception at the Royal Hall. Described as ‘a palace of glittering gold’ this stunning Edwardian theatre will provide a great talking point for delegates and a wonderful venue for this occasion. We are delighted to announce that the Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayoress of the Borough of Harrogate will join us as our guests of honour at this reception.

On Wednesday we will hold our conference gala dinner at the Majestic Hotel; this Victorian landmark is situated right in the heart of Harrogate and basks in its Victorian heritage. Entertaining us after dinner will be The Deltatones, certain to get you dancing!

Our opening keynote, presented by Professor Peter Fonagy, is ‘Using what we know about the ways children learn so we deliver high-value clinical services: What works for CAMHS?’. The presentation will describe and discuss the principles that have informed the establishment of the Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies project. It will review the similarities and differences between improving psychological therapies for adults and young people, examining the scientific basis for going beyond identifying specific treatment modalities to modifying the way services routinely deliver psychological therapies, optimising their effectiveness based on an understanding of psychological development and communication science. It will be argued that key features of the service transformation incorporated in CYP IAPT relate to what may be an effective key component of the effectiveness of all psychological therapeutic interventions.

Other programme highlights include Thursday’s very topical symposium on ‘The Health and Social Care Act 2012: Education, ethics, and professional practice dilemmas for applied psychologists’, convened by Dr Eric Drogin. With the institution of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, the National Health Service (NHS) is arguably undergoing the most radical transformation since its establishment in 1948. Critics describe the Act as a retreat into privatisation that invites the worst excesses of the American system even as, ironically, American policies mandating increased governmental oversight are maligned as sinister forays into British ‘socialised medicine’. The Health Secretary maintains that the Act is actually designed to ‘deliver more power to clinicians’ and ‘put patients at the heart of the NHS’. Whichever characterisation is more accurate, applied psychologists in both private and public sector positions must adjust to a profoundly altered service-delivery environment that inevitably poses novel education, ethics, and practice dilemmas. The new scheme mandated by the Act impacts funding, staffing, preferred treatment modalities, diagnostic prioritisation, interdisciplinary collaboration, client satisfaction, and career development. What is the optimal approach to training mental health providers for the altered roles these innovations require? How can a review of existing sources of ethical guidance enable clinicians to navigate professional misconduct minefields in the future? How can a survey of selected components of the Act assist therapists to understand the changing legal landscape of psychological practice? Does a thoughtful review of the American privatisation experience lend insight into what should be welcomed (and avoided) as the NHS moves forward?  This symposium offers the attendee a multidisciplinary overview enlivened by case vignettes of several new education, ethics, and professional practice dilemmas and optimal approaches to resolving them.

Also on Thursday, Tony Wainwright, Chair or the Society’s Ethics Committee, promises to convene a fascinating symposium on ‘ethics at the edge’. There is a widespread concern that there has been an erosion of ethical standards in public life which resulted in the establishment of the Leverson Inquiry, to which the Society contributed. This concern has been partly a consequence of the exposure of unethical behaviour among researchers, members of parliament, print media, the world of finance, the pharmaceutical industry and others in positions of trust. This symposium will examine whether there are lessons that can be learned from psychology concerning how we understand these problems. In this seminar we will cover the world of entertainment, research, education and organisations.

Pertinent to the ‘dilemmas in psychology’ theme is Wednesday’s symposium ‘psychological research that transforms educational practice’, convened by Robert Klassen. In this symposium, research that emerges from the intersection of psychology and education that has the potential to transform educational practice will be highlighted. Using a variety of research approaches in a wide range of school contexts, each of the papers in the symposium addresses key issues about teaching and learning from a psychological perspective. Furthermore, each paper examines the challenges and rewards of conducting psychological research to transform educational practice.
Within the typical and atypical mind across the lifespan theme, Tuesday afternoon’s keynote – ‘Childhood disorders of working memory: Causes, consequences and treatments’ – is presented by a double Society award winner. Professor Susan Gathercole has published over 100 articles on memory and learning, and her current work focuses on both the fundamental deficits underlying difficulties in learning, and on the development and evaluation of programmes of support to overcome these difficulties.

Two ‘hot topics’ sessions will be run, with representatives of the four Governments of the UK providing an insight into the current policy approaches to societal issues. On Tuesday at 3:45, a panel debate, ‘Technique is not Enough’, will outline how fundamental psychological principles can be used to enhance the effectiveness of parenting programmes by addressing issues of engagement and retention of socially marginalised parents. On the Wednesday at 9:45, ‘Obesity in the UK’ will provide an overview of the contributions that both academic and applied psychology have to make on this modern epidemic. For both events, representatives from local authorities and community groups will be invited.

There is also a wide variety of poster and oral presentations on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, covering the typical and atypical mind across the lifespan. Both Margaret Husted’s oral presentation ‘The impact of an investment-based intervention on weight-loss and hedonic thoughts about food in post-obesity surgery patients’, and Kirsty Carter’s poster ‘Development and utility of a patient pathway for driving and dementia’ catch the eye as particularly current and relevant topics within British culture.

There are other keynotes from Robin Dunbar, Alex Haslam and Karen Kitchener, along with a number of Society award lectures and the Presidential Address. And if that doesn’t whet your appetite, finally we preview a symposium asking you to ponder ‘the future of Psychology A-level’. In 2012 the current government launched several consultations which may result in one of the biggest overhauls of education in the last 30 years. The Psychology Education Board commissioned a report to look at the future of the psychology
A-level, which would be developed in conjunction with the government A-level Review. The Future of  Psychology A-level, published in early 2013, aims to:
I    capture the current state of A-level Psychology;
I    consider possible and practical developments for the subject;
I    consider how A-level Psychology can fit into general education (both prior and post A-level);
I    explore how A-level teaching and teachers can be supported;
I    offer recommendations for curriculum developers.

The report was developed via a series of workshops and focus sessions held over two days with relevant stakeholders. The sessions were broadly centred around the four papers of this symposium, which looks to address issues in A-level education today and how we would seek to influence future development. The intended outcomes of the report are:
I    a written report for the Society;
I    a boost to the profile of pre-degree psychology in the Society;
I    a position statement that will form
the basis for lobbying awarding bodies, government and other
learned societies; and
I    a strategy for supporting the development of the widest possible community of psychology teachers.

It is hoped that by presenting the report to the conference, the Psychology Education Board and its Standing Committee on Pre-tertiary education can actively inform the membership of ongoing work in this area and to engage the membership in dialogue about policy formation and implementation of the recommendations coming out of this report.

At the time of going to press, bookings are up on previous years but there are still delegate places available. Please visit for more information. We look forward to seeing you in Harrogate!

Improving Wikipedia articles

Dr Martin Poulter (University of Bristol), an Associate of Wikimedia UK, is seeking to create links with members of the Society to help with Wikiproject Psychology – a collaboration of experts, students and enthusiasts who review and improve Wikipedia’s psychology articles.

According to Dr Poulter, Wikipedia is ‘excellent in some areas – articles about battleships or chemical elements, for example – but its psychology coverage is often very poor’. Some of this, he says, is due to the nature of the subject: ‘Psychological theories, or psychological phenomena, are not as clearly and starkly differentiable as elements in the periodic table. Hence there are problems with defining the totality of human knowledge about psychology.’

As a Wikimedia Associate one of Dr Poulter’s tasks is to promote links between Wikimedia and academia in the UK, and his particular interest is in experimental psychology. ‘Imagine’, he says, ‘if reliable, accessible, articles about mental health, about positive psychology and happiness, or about biases in perception and cognition were freely available to everyone on the planet. To me, this seems no less worthy a goal than other aspects of the Wikimedia mission. There are people working to bring this about, but the scale of the task is enormous.’
While Wikiproject Psychology has around 8000 collaborators, most of these are from outside the UK and there are still many basic concepts without their own articles. Dr Poulter would like Society members and groups within the Society to get involved to help redress these imbalances.

He describes various kinds of event or activity that can combine psychologists, Wikimedia and the wider public to promote the subject in general, or specific areas of research:
I    ‘editathons’ to improve articles on specific topics
I    editing or translation competitions, that involve Wikipedia editors around the world
I    training workshops for researchers using Wikimedia projects
for outreach and impact
I    educational assignments in which students improve an article during their course.

Recent examples of collaborations with other groups include an editathon at the Royal Society, which brought together scientists and Wikipedians to create or improve articles on female scientists and mathematicians; a training event in Coventry to help doctors and health researchers improve articles on medicine; and the British Library’s ‘Wikipedian in residence’.

Dr Poulter is enthusiastic about creating similar fruitful collaborations with psychologists: ‘Let’s see what we can do in your institution or workplace. It would be tragic if, while other scientists, librarians and scholars improve public understanding of their subjects through Wikimedia, psychology were left out.’

To encourage Society members to get involved, Dr Poulter is running a workshop at the Society’s Annual Conference in Harrogate on Wednesday 10 April at 3.30pm ‘Improving psychology articles on Wikipedia: An opportunity for education and impact’. But, he says, would also be delighted to meet and talk with interested members at any time ([email protected]). 

BPS Branches need you!

Local BPS Branches need active committee members in order to arrange Branch activities.

Could you bring energy and motivation and be more actively involved with your local psychology community?The nine BPS Branches form a regional structure across the Society for all members and require no additional entry criteria. 

Each geographical branch will be more or less active depending upon levels of participation and interest groups in that area with information being posted on their designated BPS website and through other publicity. 

Much depends on the availability and readiness of individual psychologists in the locality putting aside time to bring together one or two events a year alongside other committee members and contributing ideas for planning and organising an ongoing programme. On the committee of the London & Home Counties Branch we have four scheduled meetings annually and undertake detailed management of specific events in smaller subgroups.  In the past few years our regular events have included invited international speakers career talks, research workshops, psychology research and general talks, and participation in ‘Psychology for All’.

The London & Home Counties branch spans a broad constituency and to reflect  members’ interests we are keen to develop social and career networking opportunities and to bring these to as wide an audience as possible.  To do so we need to enrol more volunteers onto the committee.If you are interested in joining the London & Home Counties Branch committee and want to find out more, see our advert and flyer in this edition and come along on 21 May 2013.
Jane Butler
London & Home Counties Branch Committee

CIPD agreement
The Society is pleased to announce an agreement with The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Society members and PTC registered test users can pay CIPD member rates on 10 courses and programmes in the CIPD psychology portfolio: Neuroscience for Leaders and Managers, The Psychology of Influencing and Negotiation, Positive Approaches to Change, An Introduction to the Psychology of Management, Positive Psychology at Work, The Psychology of Coaching: individuals and teams, The Psychology of Leadership, The Psychology of Organisational Culture and Climate, The Psychology of Managing Performance, and Advanced Development Programme in the Psychology of Management (APP). To register, contact CIPD with your membership number.  

Spearman Medal winner

The Society’s Spearman Medal has been handed to Dr Jonathan Roiser, from the University College London (UCL) Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. The award recognises outstanding published work in psychology, carried out by the candidate no more than 8 years following the completion of a PhD.

Dr Roiser’s lab aims to understand the neurobiological mechanisms underlying psychiatric symptoms. The team utilise experimental techniques drawn from cognitive psychology, functional neuroimaging, psychopharmacology, computational modeling and genetics, both in patient groups and healthy volunteers. The insights provided by his work speak not only to categorically defined ‘disorders’, but also to ‘normal’ function and the sources of individual differences relevant to risk for psychopathology.

Dr Roiser received a first-class degree in Natural Sciences (Experimental Psychology) from the University of Cambridge, and was elected to a research scholarship at Trinity College to conduct his doctorate on the roles of dopamine and serotonin in depression, in the Cambridge Psychiatry Department..

One project from his thesis demonstrated that a variant in the serotonin transporter gene, previously reported to confer risk for depression, made individuals more vulnerable to mood disturbance following chronic use of the drug Ecstasy. This project was one of the first to demonstrate such a pharmaccogenetic interaction in psychiatry, and it led to papers in the American Journal of Psychiatry and in Psychopharmacology.

In the same study he discovered that a surprisingly large amount of individual variability in a specific decision-making bias, the ‘framing effect’, was accounted for the same genetic variant. His subsequent replication and extension of this finding, using functional neuroimaging, led to a paper in the Journal of Neuroscience.

After a spell at the US National Institutes of Health, Dr Roiser moved to the UCL Institute of Neurology, where he developed a new cognitive paradigm to test the most influential contemporary model of psychosis, the ‘aberrant salience’ hypothesis. A paper from this research, which convincingly linked aberrant salience to psychotic symptoms for the first time, was published in Psychological Medicine, and a replication in individuals at-risk for psychosis was recently published in Schizophrenia Bulletin.

Dr Roiser’s research is now extending his work into emotional and reward biases in depression. For example, he identified a novel and powerful decision-making bias termed ‘pruning’, which describes the reflexive avoidance of negative outcomes in the context of complex decision-making. Another avenue of research focuses on the habenula, a little-studied brain structure critical in the processing of aversive information.

Nominating Dr Roiser for the award, his Head of Division Professor David Shanks said: ‘His theoretical and empirical contributions form part of a paradigm shift in the understanding of mental illness, especially in the field of depression, which cuts across traditional models and diagnostic boundaries, and places brain circuits at the centre of psychopathology, recognising the importance of characterising normal function in order to understand illness. This is becoming the dominant view of mental illness in the field and Dr Roiser has already established himself as a rising star and key proponent of this approach.’

Dr Roiser told The Psychologist: ‘I am absolutely thrilled to be awarded the Spearman Medal. This is an exciting time to be a researcher in mental health, as we move away from traditional “psychological” and “biological” explanations of psychopathology towards a more integrative brain circuit level approach. I have been inspired by researchers and clinicians who have used cognitive neuroscience findings to motivate novel therapeutic approaches, and hope that in the future my own work will help to improve our understanding and treatment of mental illness.’

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