Stories of clinical psychology

Matthew Connolly reports from the fifth annual Stories of Psychology symposium, held on Wednesday 14 October 2015 at Senate House, University of London
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Having just taken up the role of associate editor for the ‘Looking back’ section of The Psychologist, I was recently given the opportunity to attend this year’s Stories of Psychology symposium, organised by the Society’s History of Psychology Centre, and I must say that, overall, it was a great success. The topic – ‘Clinically applied: Origins of a profession’ – was timely and captivating, featuring high-quality speakers.

Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, current President of the Society, opened with some remarks on the theme and its significance to the Division of Clinical Psychology’s Golden Anniversary in 2016. The programme was then convened by Professor John Hall (Oxford Brookes University) who introduced the four main speakers, all of whom are contributing authors to a new book Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives, which is due for release this December – just in time for Christmas! The book is the second in a series of historical monographs published by the History of Psychology Centre (see advert on p.1030).

The first talk was delivered by Emeritus Professor Bill Yule (Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London), taking us back to the ‘early days’ of clinical psychology, whilst Dr Jennifer Clegg (University of Nottingham) examined four key ‘lensmakers’ who helped shape the profession, including Jack Tizard, Ann and Alan Clarke, and Peter Mittler (who was in the audience). This made for some interesting points of discussion going into the lunch break, which allowed for time to peruse a small display of some early DCP documents held in the BPS archives and related material on offer at the Senate House Library.

One aspect that I found encouraging was the space provided for an early-career psychologist. This year it was the turn of Dr Saima Lofgren (Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust), who presented a short piece on emerging cultural concerns, which really opened my eyes to the challenges facing psychologists within the NHS.

Dr Anne Richardson (formerly of University College London) then shared her reflections on working with the Department of Health and how neoliberalism can pose a threat but also an opportunity for clinicians. Having said this, Finally, Professor Bob Woods (Bangor University) rounded off the day with some humorous insights from his own involvement in 20th-century dementia care and how they might be developed in future work. Here’s looking forward to next year!  

Videos of the talks from this year’s Stories of Psychology event can be viewed above, or on our YouTube channel at

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