Society

new President and President Elect; Society accreditation goes global; Spearman Medal and Doctoral Award; voices and voice hearers seminar series; and more
Society accreditation goes global

At its March 2014 meeting, the Society's Board of Trustees approved proposals to make course accreditation available to UK courses delivered internationally. Colleagues from the Association of Heads of Psychology Departments have been actively involved in working with us on these developments over the last couple of years, and the announcement has been positively received by the sector. 

The market for UK transnational education (TNE) – UK higher education awards delivered to students based outside the UK – has expanded in recent years and continues to grow. The UK is a leading TNE exporter, with 75 per cent of UK universities now engaged in this type of provision in over 200 countries. Figures published recently by the Quality Assurance Agency estimate that the number of students studying for UK awards outside of the UK stood at around 570,000 students in 2012, outstripping the 435,000 international students studying in the UK at that time. The expansion of the Society's partnership-led accreditation process to include UK TNE will enable us to work with our university colleagues to maintain and enhance the quality of psychology education and training worldwide, and will offer students and graduates ready access to all the benefits of belonging to the Society and completing a Society-accredited course. 

Dr Laurie Butler (University of Reading) commented: ‘UK Psychology is something to be rightfully proud of, reflecting the sustained and combined efforts over many years of our universities, researchers, and the British Psychological Society. It makes absolute sense to continue this partnership as the discipline seeks to move increasingly into new and exciting overseas markets.’ For Laurie, and others, psychology in the UK enjoys a worldwide reputation, and accreditation represents a distinctive mark of quality. Dr Lizzy Sheppard is based at the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia campus, and agrees: ‘BPS accreditation of our degree courses in psychology would be of great benefit to both prospective students and to employers as it would benchmark the quality of our provision in an international context.’ 

The standards that apply to the accreditation of UK provision will be applied internationally. Those standards are rooted in the UK quality assurance system, and accreditation will only be available to existing UK providers of accredited courses that have successfully graduated at least one cohort of UK students. It is not available directly to international providers. The model accommodates a range of modes of delivery, including delivery at a branch campus or international faculty, blended learning, franchises or other collaborative arrangements, and dual awards. Accreditation will only be available to provision delivered in the English language. 

Dr Ana Vivas of the University of Sheffield’s international faculty in Thessaloniki welcomes the launch of BPS accreditation of TNE programmes: ‘Getting BPS accreditation will be a career asset for our alumni, but at the same time shows exemplary best practice of how a UK university and an overseas faculty can work together to assure excellent educational provision.’ Dr Lisa Reidy, of Sheffield Hallam University, welcomes the opportunities presented through internationalisation of specific course content: ‘Teaching should be made relevant to our international students, such as through the use of cross-cultural research examples and an employability agenda applicable to the country of delivery. In turn, this will strengthen our understanding of psychology in a global context – an internationalised perspective to enrich our UK-based teaching.’

Heads of psychology departments have been asked to lodge expressions of interest with us to enable us to begin planning a schedule of international work, and colleagues are responding extremely positively so far. We would strongly encourage colleagues involved in international work, whether up-and-running or under development, to let us know about it so that we can begin to map out our activities. 

We are open to accrediting provision at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including postgraduate professional training, although demand to date has largely centred on undergraduate and conversion programmes. Dr Helen Poole (Coventry University) sees the development of international accreditation opportunities as an important factor in supporting the development of the global psychological workforce. Coventry University has been working in partnership with the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology (CIRP) for the last couple of years as part of CIRP’s efforts to radically change the approach to delivering psychological interventions in Sri Lanka and the wider South Asian region, particularly in the context of man-made trauma such as civil war, and natural disasters such as tsunami. Helen notes that ‘CIRP are limited in resources and government support, but they continue to push forward with their mission in order to improve outcomes for their citizens’, and the collaborative development of psychology education and training will support that mission. 

In addition to expanding the accreditation process to cover international provision, we have also introduced some new, more flexible guidance on undertaking study abroad as part of a UK-accredited degree to enable students to more easily access the benefits associated with living and studying outside the UK for a period of time. Accreditation of UK programmes will now include consideration of the procedures in place to evaluate study abroad against the learning outcomes of the equivalent modules in the home programme, to ensure that by the end of their studies students have covered the curriculum requirements appropriately.

All in all, these developments offer an exciting way for the Society’s partnership model of accreditation to continue to grow in collaboration with universities and with Society members who are involved in the development of psychology programmes at an international level. Professor Mark Davies, Dean of Psychology at the University of East London, who has recently been appointed as Chair of the Society’s Partnership and Accreditation Committee and headed up the expert reference group that took these developments forward, said: ‘Accreditation represents a mark of excellence in terms of what a student may reasonably expect to experience over the course of their studies. We are delighted to now be in a position to extend those benefits to colleagues delivering our awards outside of the UK, and of course to their students, and to continue to build on the very successful partnership ethos that the Society has worked hard to develop over recent years.’

For more information on international accreditation and study abroad, please visit www.bps.org.uk/internationalaccreditation. If you are involved in developing or delivering provision outside the UK and would like to register your interest in putting your programme forward for accreditation, please contact Lucy Horder at [email protected].

 

New president and president elect 

Professor Dorothy Miell from the University of Edinburgh began her one-year term as President of the British Psychological Society at the Society’s Annual General Meeting. The AGM took place during the Society’s Annual Conference in Birmingham in May.

Professor Miell is Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Edinburgh and the Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Humanities and Social Science there. She took her first degree and PhD at Lancaster University and then moved to the Open University where she contributed to large-scale courses in Introductory and Social Psychology as well as in Education and Social Sciences.

Following a period as Associate Dean she became Dean of Social Sciences. Professor Miell is a social psychologist, interested in patterns of communication in both children’s and adults’ relationships. In recent years her research has focused increasingly on collaborative working in creative areas such as music making. She is particularly interested in processes of identity development and patterns of communication as these play out in collaborative, often multidisciplinary, working relationships.

Professor Miell has been involved with the BPS since being a student, helping to organise some of the first postgraduate conferences and then being on the Social Psychology Section Committee and a member of the Developmental Psychology Section. She has served over the years on the Editorial Strategy Group (which liaises with Wiley on our book publishing programme), the Admissions Committee and the Graduate Qualifications and Accreditation Committee and was most recently Chair of the Psychology Education Board and, in this capacity, on the Board of Trustees.

Professor Miell said: ‘I’m very much looking forward to the coming year and to working with the new presidential team to help the Society move forward. There are some excellent suggestions coming from the members and staff for how to develop and improve the Society and I will be doing everything I can to help put good ideas into practice. I look forward to meeting and listening to members throughout the year and to taking the message of what psychology can offer society to colleagues in related fields and to the public.’

For an interview with Professor Miell, see p.432. Her President’s columns will begin next month.

At the Society’s AGM it was also announced that Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes has been elected as President for 2015/16. He will serve a year as President Elect while Professor Miell is President.
Professor Hacker Hughes is director of the Veterans and Families Institute at Anglia Ruskin University and an independent mental healthcare consultant with a practice in central London who specialises in military and veteran mental health and in the assessment and treatment of psychotrauma.

Following a short service commission in the Army, he studied psychology at Birmingham University and University College London and trained as a clinical psychologist in the NHS. After a further five years there, working first in learning disabilities and then in adult mental health, he worked in the Ministry of Defence for 12 years, during which time he became the first senior lecturer in military psychology at the now Department of Defence Mental Health at King's College, London, before becoming head of defence clinical psychology and the MoD's first defence consultant adviser in psychology.
Professor Hacker Hughes said: ‘I’m hugely grateful to Professors Barbara Wilson and Adrian Furnham, both of whom were great influences during my postgraduate and undergraduate studies,
for proposing and seconding me and to all those who voted for me.
This is a massive privilege and I commit myself to doing all I can
for British psychology and for our psychologists during my term of office.’

 

Spearman Medal 2014 

Roi Cohen Kadosh 

A pioneer of the use of noninvasive brain stimulation to enhance the learning of mathematics has been awarded the Society’s Spearman Medal for 2014.

Dr Roi Cohen Kadosh says: ‘It is a pleasure and a honour to receive this medal and to be in the company of excellent scientists. I would like to thank the selection committee and the assessors for their acknowledgement of my work.’

Dr Cohen Kadosh has been described by Professor Glyn Humphreys from the University of Oxford, who nominated him for this award, as having ‘established himself at the internationally leading researcher in the use of noninvasive brain stimulation to enhance the learning of mathematics’. He has achieved this status just seven years after completing his doctorate.

His early work, carried out while he was completing that doctorate at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, set out to improve our understanding of developmental dyscalculia. With his fellow researchers he found that by applying fMRI-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation neuronavigation to disrupt left- or right-intraparietal sulcus (IPS) activation clusters it was possible to induce transient dyscalculic-like behavioural deficits in non-dyscalculic volunteers. The behavioural disruption exactly matched the problems experienced by dyscalculic volunteers when they undertook that same task. This provided direct evidence for the functional role of right IPS in automatic magnitude processing.

Since he began working in Britain, first at University College London and later at Oxford, Dr Cohen Kadosh’s work has concentrated on using this insight to help people with dyscalculia. In a series of experiments reported in 2010 paper in Current Biology, volunteers were shown made-up symbols representing the numbers 1 to 9. Although they had no idea which symbols stood for which number at the start of the test, they gradually worked this out by receiving cognitive training.

The researchers found that participants who had been subject to transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a way of enhancing brain activity using an electric current, to the right parietal cortex while simultaneously using the opposite current to subdue activity in the left parietal cortex, performed better in these tests.

A more recent study has looked at the use of transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS) to stimulate the same area of the brain. Fifty-one Oxford students were asked to perform two arithmetic tasks, one involving calculation and one rote learning, over a five-day period. 

It was found that the participants who had received tRNS showed improvements in cognitive and brain functions that were not present in the control group. These effects were present at six-month follow-up.

‘Our neuroimaging results suggested that tRNS increases the efficiency with which stimulated brain areas use their supplies of oxygen and nutrients,’ Dr Cohen Kadosh told BBC News website.

Dr Cohen Kadosh’s main aim for the future is to help those with numerical impairments. However, there are obvious ethical issues raised by the further development and use of such techniques for cognitive enhancement in those with impaired and non-impaired cognitive abilities, and Dr Cohen Kadosh discussed these in a 2012 paper. He wrote of the need to be alert to the possibility of undesirable side-effects from further experiments or treatment using them, and he has provided evidence of this in 2013. He noted that people often intuit a moral difference between external enhancements, such as education or computing, and internal enhancements, such as drugs. 

And he went on to say: ‘There seems to be a widespread perception that external enhancements are less problematic than internal ones. The intuition that tDCS is an external intervention may create the misplaced perception that its use is less problematic than more obviously internal enhancements, and thus lower the threshold for premature use.’

Dr Cohen Kadosh has also conducted important research on the cognitive and neural mechanisms of numerical cognition and synaesthesia, and his work has attracted considerable media interest. A steady stream of international visitors to his laboratory, coming to learn the basics of the multimodal techniques he employs, attest to his growing reputation.

Jonathan Calder

References

Cohen Kadosh, R., Cohen Kadosh, K., Schumann, T. et al. (2007). Virtual dyscalculia induced by parietal lobe TMS impairs automatic magnitude processing. Current Biology, 17, 689–693.
Cohen Kadosh, R., Soskic, S., Iuculano, T. et al. (2010). Modulating neuronal activity produces specific and long-lasting changes in numerical competence. Current Biology, 20, 2016–2020.
Cohen Kadosh R., Levy, N., O'Shea, J. et al. (2012). The neuroethics of non-invasive brain stimulation. Current Biology, 22, R108–R111.
Iuculano, T. & Cohen Kadosh, R. (2013). The mental cost of cognitive enhancement. Journal of Neuroscience 33, 4482–4486.
Snowball, A., Tachtsidis, I., Popescu, T., … & Cohen Kadosh, R. (2013). Long-term enhancement of brain function and cognition using cognitive training and brain stimulation. Current Biology, 23, 987–992.

 

Save your Special Group – Psychologists and Social Care  

Our planned conference ‘Seeking Justice’ has had to be abandoned due to the unexpected non-availability of the two main speakers. However our AGM remains on the same date, Monday 9 June, at which we must ensure the attendance of a good number of members and possible future members. We will meet from 11am at the Society’s London office (30 Tabernacle Street) – plus lunch! 

Sadly, another special group was recently required to fold as their AGM was not quorate. We do not want to risk a similar fate. So please, if you live within reasonable distance of London, make a big effort to come and join us. We look forward to welcoming you.

Dr Olivia Craig
former Chair and present voice of PASC on the Professional Practice Board

 

Understanding relationships between voices and voice-hearers
A seminar series funded by the Society’s Research Board

Dr Katherine Berry (Senior Clinical Research Fellow, University of Manchester) and Dr Mark Hayward (Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of Sussex) co-hosted a series of seminars to explore the application of interpersonal theories to the understanding of and therapy for auditory hallucinations, or ‘voices’ as they are more commonly known. The first event was held at the University of Sussex in April 2013 and showcased theoretical perspectives. The second event was held at the University of Manchester in September 2013 and spelt out the treatment implications of the latest theories and research in the field. These first two events were open to researchers, students, mental health professionals and voice-hearers. Collectively the events attracted over 400 delegates from across the UK and even included some international speakers and delegates. The final event, in February 2014, provided a forum for key participants in the previous events to consolidate current thinking in relation to interpersonal theories and therapies for voices and develop future research plans. 

Dr Berry began the series by presenting an overview of one of the key interpersonal theories of the last century: John Bowlby’s (1969) attachment theory. Although initially based on observations of infants and caregivers Berry argued that key concepts from the theory, such as the importance of close interpersonal relationships for psychological well-being and how earlier relationships with caregivers determine methods of coping with distressing experiences in adulthood, are important for the understanding of how people cope with and relate to their voices. 

Dr Hayward’s presentation ‘A two way street’ asked the audience to consider the reciprocal relationship that may exist between the hearer and their voice(s). These relationships can become imbalanced and often mirror the lack of balance in the social relationships of hearers. Relating therapy seeks to redress this balance through the development of assertiveness skills, and is currently being piloted. 

In Manchester Professor Birchwood from the University of Warwick and Dr Bucci from the University of Manchester explored their experience of and some findings from the COMMAND study – a large multi-site trial of cognitive therapy that draws upon interpersonal theory to understand and challenge the perceived power of the voice to inflict harm on the voice hearer if commands are not followed. The trial demonstrated a large and significant reduction in harmful compliance, in parallel with the singular target of treatment, the perceived power of the voice. Dr Bucci’s presentation followed on from Professor Birchwood’s talk with a case example from the trial which really brought the therapy to life. 

Further novel therapies were presented by Dr Braehler from the University of Glasgow (compassion-focused therapy), Dr Strauss from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (mindfulness-based intervention) and Dr Neil Thomas from Swinburne University, Australia (acceptance and commitment therapy). Delegates noted the similarities across therapies as they emphasise acceptance of voices and the importance of valuing the self.

There were two particular highlights that stood out across the seminar series. Ruth Chandler from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust described her personal journey of voice hearing. She emphasised how she drew on psychological theories and therapies to reach her own understanding of and ways of coping with distressing voice-hearing experiences. It was a truly stimulating and reflective presentation. Finally, it was fascinating to hear from Professor Julian Leff about his cutting-edge work on avatar therapy for voices. Professor Leff gave a demonstration of avatars that had been created by hearers to personify their voices, and are then controlled by the therapist during therapy sessions. Hearers are coached by a therapist to respond assertively to their avatar which in turn responds positively. Avatar therapy has been found to be very beneficial during piloting and a large trial is under way. 

Isabelle Butcher, Undergraduate Student at the University of Cardiff and former Honorary Research Assistant at the University of Manchester

Katherine Berry Senior Clinical Research Fellow, University of Manchester

Mark Hayward Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of Susse
 

Become a Chartered Scientist 

The award of Chartered Scientist (CSci) status is a form of post-Charter recognition that the Society is able to offer its Chartered Members through the Science Council. We have been offering the award since 2007, and more than 700 Society members are now also Chartered Scientists.

The Society is one of 29 Licensed Bodies registered to award the Chartered Scientist title. More than 15,000 Chartered Scientists work within these bodies, in a variety of scientific fields – from statisticians to biologists, chemical engineers to computer scientists, and food scientists to psychologists. Chartered Scientist status reflects best practice in science and is viewed as a significant qualification throughout the science professions in the UK.

Psychologists increasingly work in interdisciplinary environments, and Chartered Scientist status provides a valuable opportunity for psychologists to demonstrate training and experience at a level commensurate with other professional scientists and to achieve peer recognition. The Science Council encourages networking between scientists and the bringing together of multidisciplinary teams. 

Through the CSci award, the Science Council seeks to provide a single chartered mark for all scientists, recognising high levels of professionalism and competence in science. 

The commitment to professionalism is demonstrated through the mandatory annual audit of Chartered Scientists’ CPD. The Society supports this process by requiring all Chartered Scientists to engage with the myCPD system to record their relevant CPD alongside reflections on how this CPD has impacted upon them, their clients and their services. Evidence of development through this reflective process is deemed key to demonstrating the high standards of professionalism required of Chartered Scientists.

The Chartered Scientist award is available to Society members at Chartered level who have at least two years’ post-Charter experience in the practice, application or teaching of psychological science. For many members, achieving CSci allows them to gain recognition outside of their specific discipline and demonstrates their commitment to professionalism and continuing high levels of competence and development. Chartered Scientist has created a single badge of professionalism that the public can recognise across the science professions and beyond and has now increased the public’s trust in science.

CSci benefits the individual…
I    by giving you wider recognition outside of
your specific discipline
or sector;
I    by demonstrating your commitment to professionalism and continuing high levels
of competence and development; and
I    by providing a platform from which you can network across disciplines and sectors.

CSci benefits the employer…
I    by giving assurance of
the competence and professionalism of employees; and
I    by showing customers or competitors that staff are practising at the highest level.

CSci benefits the public...
I    by creating a single badge of professionalism that the public can recognise across the science professions and beyond; and
I    by maintaining and increasing the public’s
trust in scientists through professional standards, codes of conduct and mandatory revalidation.

If you would like to become a Chartered Scientist, you can find application forms and further information about the award at www.bps.org.uk/csci. Any questions? You can contact the Membership Team on 0116 252 9585, or e-mail [email protected].


WHAT DOES CSci MEAN TO YOU?

‘Being a behavioural scientist, to apply for CSci was the only way for getting some recognition from my colleagues and peers who do not necessarily know about my scientific work in much detail.’
– Christos Nikopoulos, Chartered Scientist- British Psychological Society

‘Chartered Scientist helped when questioned in a Family Court by
a Barrister about psychology just being common sense. I was able
to refer to the competencies required for registration as a CSci that
I can consistently ‘deal with complex scientific issues, both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data and communicate conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences.’
– Helen Hart, Chartered Scientist, British Psychological Society

‘I guess I always saw scientists as people working in the lab, not people like me who use all that data. Going for and getting Chartered Scientist really made me think about what science is and how it influences everything in my work.’
– Claire Scannell, Chartered Scientist, Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management

‘Recognition. Acceptance. Validation. And keeping in touch with the wider community on developments. Also CSci gives me a platform
to continue to contribute to and influence change.’
– Mike Parrett, Chartered Scientist, Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining

 

Doctoral Award 2013 Andreas Jarvstad 

Since the early 1970s, the dominant view in psychology, behavioural economics and neuroscience has been that humans are irrational and sub-optimal decision makers. This view is based largely on studies of high-level cognitive decision making. However, in the last 10 years, researchers studying perceptual and perceptuo-motor decision making have come to the opposite conclusion: that decision making is near-optimal.

Thus, it seems that human decision making is characterised by a perception–cognition performance ‘gap’: high-level choices are sub-optimal, whereas low-level choices are near-optimal. By analogy, it is as if our ancestors would have been awful at choosing which prey to hunt (a high-level cognitive task), but excellent at choosing where to put their feet on a rocky ridge (a low-level perceptuo-motor task).

The Research Board’s Award for Outstanding Doctoral Research Contributions to Psychology recognises Dr Andreas Jarvstad’s doctoral work exploring the apparent perception–cognition gap. His work utilised computational modelling and experimental work, combining methods from cognitive psychology and psychophysics. The work suggests not only that the perception–cognition gap is illusory but also that human decision making is in fact very good (though not perfect). Thus, the work provides evidence against the views: (a) that human cognitive decision making is poor and (b) that low-level decisions are better than high-level decisions.

Andreas’ nomination was based on two papers: ‘Perceptuo-motor, cognitive, and description-based decision-making seem equally good’ (PNAS) and ‘Knowing when to move on: Cognitive and perceptual decisions in time’ (Psychological Science). The nominee, Dr Simon K. Rushton from Cardiff University, one of Andreas’ former PhD supervisors, said: ‘Andreas is the complete psychological scientist; he has the ability to understand and assess broad theoretical ideas, to scrutinise technical details, to design clever experiments and sensitive analyses, programming and computational modelling skills, and he writes clear and insightful papers.’

Andreas is currently a Research Associate on a large interdisciplinary decision-making project at Bristol University. He said: ‘It’s a great honour and an absolute delight to receive this award. It is wonderful to see, and be part of, the rejuvenated interest in decision making in psychology, and I very much look forward to presenting this work to the Society’s 2015 Annual Conference.’ The award also includes £500 and a commemorative certificate. 

 

Would you like to be an Associate Fellow?

Becoming an Associate Fellow (AFBPsS) of the Society is a useful way to demonstrate years of experience, competence and contribution to the field. Members should have received an e-mail or letter in May explaining how to apply. There’s no need for proposers or original documents as eligibility is based on time spent working in the field of psychology.

For more information go to www.bps.org.uk/associatefellow 

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