President’s column; new Psychology Education Board Chair; Special Group for Independent Practitioners; Disaster, Crisis and Trauma Section; and more

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

A ugust is the traditional month in which to take holidays. After a lifetime of being forced into this straitjacket I now travel all over the place but stay at home during August. An irresistible offer to visit the Klimt exhibition in Vienna last August however was too tempting. Whilst in Vienna I visited Freud’s house and my attention was caught by a framed certificate from the BPS in the most prominent position in the room, welcoming Freud as an Honorary Member. It was the subject of much interest for the many international visitors to the house. I recalled a comment from an earlier President that our international standing was high but that we under-performed in terms of our international relationships.

A contributory factor might be that Presidents of the BPS are in office for only a year, whilst that term is often longer in other psychology societies. In his final column Peter Banister wished me well and was looking forward to his year as Vice-President whatever that entailed. Well, some of his time will be taken up representing the BPS at President’s level with the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA). This continuity building upon Peter’s expertise and experience will serve us well. This is one way to optimise the three-year term for the Presidential team. Peter noted in the annual report that 2012 had an overarching theme of internationalism, and this should be, I believe, an important consideration in our forthcoming strategic plan.

The BPS joined EFPA in 1981 and members of the society have made and continue to make a huge contribution to the activities of the association whether at board, standing committee or task force level. Trauma, testing and traffic are just three of the wide-ranging interest groups. I have for the last year been involved with a task force on resources for EFPA whilst a fellow trustee has been involved with a task force on structure. Meanwhile a new EFPA Task Force for Community Psychology has been formed following hard on the heels of the new Section within the BPS. By the time this column appears the biennial General Assembly of EFPA will have met in Stockholm where the results of all these activities will have been discussed. As the BPS will be well represented this will give us the opportunity to influence the direction of EFPA’s activities.

On a grander scale is the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS) which meets quadrennially. In BPS terms there is no continuity between IUPsyS Congresses in terms of Presidential attendance and this needs to be addressed. We are fortunate that our Honorary General Secretary is on the Executive Committee although in her own right. The President of IUPsyS Saths Cooper was elected a BPS Honorary Fellow at this year’s AGM further strengthening our links not only with international psychology but also with South Africa.

The balance between representing a national body and furthering the interests of a larger grouping is delicate and difficult. On a recent visit to Kuala Lumpur I heard about the difficulty in retaining the locally trained psychologists within Malaysia. At the same time a strong desire was expressed to help build psychology in less developed countries such as Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. One way to help build this capacity is for rich countries to promote academic and professional exchanges in order to reduce the professional isolation felt in poorer countries. I am pleased to report that the Trustees will be considering capacity building at their next meeting and I look forward to future developments.

Marie Curie in her Memorandum on Intellectual Cooperation said that ‘After all, science is essentially international and it is only through the lack of historical sense that national qualities have been attributed to it’.

New Psychology Education Board Chair

Dr Catriona Morrison, Senior Lecturer in Experimental Psychology at the University of Leeds, has been appointed Chair of the Society's Psychology Education Board.

The Board is responsible for informing and directing psychology education at all levels, from pre-tertiary through to CPD engagement. Its key brief is to develop and implement Society policy in relation to psychology education, teaching, teachers and students. The Board interacts widely with the psychology teaching community and aims to be an approachable and authoritative source that people can draw on. Dr Morrison, a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the Society, said: ‘It is a privilege to take up the role of Chair of the Psychology Education Board, with some great challenges and opportunities ahead for the teaching of psychology. We are keenly aware of the opportunities and threats, with changes of circumstances economically and politically. We are intent on protecting and enhancing the discipline in the challenging  times ahead.’

The Board’s Undergraduate Education Committee is striving to maintain standards in the delivery of psychology education, and, with the recently developed Accreditation Through Partnership approach, the Society is working constructively with institutions to protect and enhance teaching and learning in psychology. ‘We hope that when frustrations arise in the accreditation process it is appreciated that this is our guiding principle,’ Dr Morrison said. ‘We aim to promote and maintain scientific standards and rigour in the teaching of psychology. Importantly for the Society we work collaboratively with other Boards and networks, including the Research Board and the Membership Standards Board. So, if things are working well there is joined-up thinking within the Society.’

Dr Morrison also thanked the office staff for ‘immense support, which often goes unrecognised: Kelly Auty and Lucy Kerry are doing a fantastic job on behalf of psychology education and I thank them for their highly valued work’.


Formation of Special Group for Independent Practitioners

At its Annual General Meeting in June, the Society approved the formation of a Special Group for Independent Practitioners.

The seed for the group was sown  in 2006, when a group of independent practitioners took the initiative to start a discussion forum to address common issues linked to their specific situation. Themes included applied work delineation, regulation, setting up and running a business, and ethics. Contributions also emphasised a need for formalising the position of independent practitioners within the Society, and in 2010 a small working group was charged with proposing the formation of a Special Group. Ethics, regulation, policy access and implementation, running a business and professional representation have continued to be hot topics on the discussion forum, and the number of members has doubled over the last three years.

Dra. C.A.J. Meesters, Associate Fellow of the Society and an independent practitioner working in Brighton, was instrumental in those early steps. She says that the demands of independent psychology practice are essentially different from those of psychologists working in paid employment. ‘Both their self-employed status and legal obligations (and difficulties) connected with this status, and also the nature and diversity of their services, tend to be more complex than those defined by job descriptions in employment. This position also poses very specific issues with respect to maintaining professional standards of competence and ethics.

‘In addition to the themes mentioned there has always been a lively concern about two other issues,’ says Dra. Meesters: ‘the definition of independent practice and the significance (or not) of the practitioner’s speciality. These latter issues triggered the proposal for a Special Group, determining itself by mode of practice rather than speciality, so in that respect different from a Faculty or Division.’

A proposal for a Special Group was written, disseminated through the forum, and after several drafts submitted to the Professional Practice Board. Recently the proposal received a favourable ballot, and the project has now been approved.

The principal goals and activities for this Special Group are:I    Promoting and maintaining competence to practise independently, e.g. by maintaining the existing forum and organising appropriate CPD;
I    Representing the interests of independent practitioners on the BPS Professional Practice Board (PPB);
I    Integrating the various areas of applied psychology;
I    Monitoring and promoting best standards of ethics and professional boundaries, e.g. by highlighting the position of independent practitioners in potential conflicts of interest;
I    Promoting and maintaining best practice with respect to applied psychological methods;
I    Monitoring and maintaining best practice with respect to the legal position of independent practitioners.

The next stage is the formalisation of these principles and the formation of a committee. An inaugural meeting will be set up and members will be notified.

For more information, contact [email protected]


New Disaster, Crisis and Trauma Section

I am delighted to announce that the ballot in favour of the formation of the new Section on Disaster, Crisis and Trauma Psychology (Trauma Psychology for short) was carried at the Society's AGM in June. Under the Society’s rules, 1 per cent of the membership must support the formation of a new Section for it to be formed and this has now been achieved .

Over the last few years the global media have drawn attention to disasters and crises across the world and closer to home. How do we as a learned society and professional body respond in the face of such events? I would like to concentrate on one aspect of our response. In 2010, Professor Bill Yule, Emeritus Professor of Applied Child Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry and an international expert in the field proposed the formation of this new Section.

Why have a Section? Like Bill Yule, and I am drawing extensively from his original proposal, I think that psychologists of all specialisms have important roles to play both in planning for disaster management and in mitigating the effects of disasters and terrorism. By establishing a forum for trauma psychology, the Section will:I    promote cross-disciplinary research to understand reactions to crisis and provide evidence based interventions;
I    help develop teaching in this area at both introductory and advanced professional levels;
I    facilitate discussion among psychologists of all specialisms, via meetings, symposia and websites;
I    maintain the Society’s Database of Disaster Resources with the aim of helping members gain access to relevant resources in their work;
I    liaise actively with the European Federation for Psychological Associations Standing Committee on Disaster Crisis and Trauma Psychology; and
I    liaise closely with policy makers and the Consultation Response Team to ensure that psychological findings influence public policy.

Much has already been achieved by researchers, clinicians and practitioners with the support of the Society, but the formation of a Section will provide a focus and impetus for further work.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Trauma Section, as soon as a date is agreed there will be an announcement of the date for the inaugural meeting.
Carole Allan


Proposed Male Psychology Section

The aim of the proposed Male Psychology Section is for the British Psychological Society to take a lead in promoting awareness, research and understanding of male gender psychology. The Section will help to expand our overall understanding of the full diversity of the human condition and enrich our understanding of men and women, both in their differences and also in their common humanity.

The initial proposal to form a new Male Psychology Section has been endorsed by the Society’s Board ofTrustees. It now requires not less than 1 per cent of Society members in support. To register your support, visit


Honorary Fellowship for Saths Cooper

Congratulations to Dr Sathasivan (Saths) Cooper who was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Society at its 2013 Annual General Meeting, held in London in June.

Dr Cooper is a clinical psychologist with an impressive record of dissemination and public and policy engagement, including over 150 peer-reviewed papers, keynotes and invited addresses. He has had a major impact on policy and legislative frameworks within South Africa and was elected four times as President of the Psychological Society of South Africa and as its first Fellow in September 2002.

A close colleague of the late Steve Biko, Saths played a key role in the anti-apartheid struggle, in South Africa and internationally. He was instrumental in the advent of democracy in South Africa and the unification and ascendancy of psychology and youth and community reconstruction and development during and after apartheid. During the struggle for democracy Saths was banned, house arrested and jailed for nine years (spending over five years in Robben Island in the same cell-block as former President Mandela, Govan Mbeki and Walter Sisulu). He was declared a ‘victim of gross human rights violations’ by South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1998.
In 2000 Dr Cooper was the first sub-Saharan African to be elected to the Executive Committee of the International Union of Psychological Science and also the first non-European to be made its President in 2012. He was influential in enabling the 30th International Congress of Psychology to be held, for the first time in its 123 year history, in Africa in 2012 at which he also served as President. 

Stories of psychology
The History of Psychology Centre has arranged a one-day symposium in its annual ‘Stories of Psychology’ series on the theme of ‘Psychology and the Arts’. It will take place on Tuesday 15 October at Senate House, University of London. 

The symposium theme will reflect some of the many ways that the arts (music, literature, visual arts) have influenced the development of psychological understanding and vice versa. The programme has been designed to appeal to a general audience.

There is a nominal charge of £10 for BPS members (£12 non-members), which includes a buffet lunch. You can register online and find more details at


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