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Presidential Blog

A meeting in progress with a view of Edinburgh through the window

On a gorgeous sunny morning in Edinburgh about 50 of us gathered in Princes Street last Friday for the first of this year's National events, a BPS Scotland panel event on dementia.

Speakers present came from Alzheimer's Scotland, who co-hosted the event, people with dementia, the DCP Faculty for the Psychology of Older People and Dr Jacqueline Wilson, clinical psychologist from Midlothian.

The aim of the round table was to produce input for the Scottish Government's third Dementia Strategy, so guests included representatives from the Scottish Government, Edinburgh City Council and the Life Changes Trust.

All present agreed that it had been a most worthwhile morning and we are now working on a formal consensus document to go to the Scottish Government to inform their developing strategy.

Tue, 19/01/2016 - 11:53

This is a joint post from Professor Peter Kinderman, President Elect, and Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, the President.

The DECP (Division of Educational Psychology) held its annual conference at the Holiday Inn Hotel London Bloomsbury last week. It is thought to have been a first for both the President and the President Elect to attend.

Peter Kinderman writes:

"I attended the conference on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. The theme for this year was 'inclusivity'. This related not only to the protection of children, in that the conference was entitled 'Towards an inclusive psychology; do labels and diagnoses help or hinder?', but also to our shared aspirations for closer links between the branches of applied psychology.

"The conference was an enormous success. I believe both the conference and my keynote address (many thanks to DECP for inviting me) addressed these two ambitions and, I am reliably informed, made a positive impression on colleagues from the Department for Education and Skills."

Jamie Hacker Hughes writes:

"I attended the conference on the Thursday and attended a very useful symposium on 'Beyond Labelling' before the lunchtime AGM at which Vivian Hill succeeded Charmian Hobbs as Chair. There were also useful discussions about the Society's structural review and about the Divisional journal, and its future.

"Andre Imich, SEN and disability professional adviser, Department for Education and Skills, addressed the conference on the progress of the government's SEN reforms and the role that educational psychologists are playing within it.

"Dr Dawn Harper and Dr Ravi Jayaram, seen in the photograph, talked about their experiences of making the programme 'Born Naughty' and discussed the role which the media plays in bringing complex needs of childhood to a wider audience."

Both felt that the conference was an excellent example of how applied psychologists can be: authoritative professionals, explaining their day-to-day work helping children and young people to solve problems in their lives; innovative scientists, exploring both the causes of those problems and evaluating the interventions; and champions of social justice, campaigning for better services and public understanding of difficult issues.

Tue, 12/01/2016 - 15:12

It was good to get a sneak preview of the next BPS annual conference venue, the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham, when I took part in the Division of Occupational Psychology's well attended (with around 450 delegates) annual conference this week.

I was pleased to sit on a panel with Gudela Grote, President of the European Association for Work and Organisational Psychology, and Steve Kozlowski, President of the US Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology on the international influence of psychology, and on a panel on our domestic influence with my colleagues Dee Anand, Helen Nicolas and Richard Pemberton, Chairs of our Forensic, Counselling and Clinical Divisions respectively.

Both discussions made me even more aware that there is a lot more work that we in the BPS need to do in order to increase significantly our policy and communications footprint and get the psychological message out to as many as possible.

The other take-home message is that we should increasingly be trying to work much more collaboratively with each other for the good of psychology as a whole. This, I hope, will be made much easier once we embark on the Society restructuring later this year

As a firm believer in taking regular breaks from email myself, I was particularly interested in a paper by Dr Richard MacKinnon from the Future Work Centre. His research looked at the psychological toll on people who feel they must be constantly available for work via email.

A press release about this paper was sent out over the holiday period by the Society’s Press Centre and received wide coverage.

The Telegraph, for instance, quoted Richard at follows: 

"Our research shows that email is a double-edged sword. Whilst it can be a valuable communication tool, it's clear that it's a source of stress of frustration for many of us.

"The people who reported it being most useful to them also reported the highest levels of email pressure. But the habits we develop, the emotional reactions we have to messages and the unwritten organisational etiquette around email, combine into a toxic source of stress which could be negatively impacting our productivity and wellbeing."

Thu, 07/01/2016 - 12:26

The year ahead is going to be very exciting indeed and, following on from our General Assembly in Leicester, I’m now looking ahead to:

  • even greater collaboration and cooperation between the Sections and between Sections and other member networks;
  • a new democratic governance structure and executive function with, I hope, a proportionally representative, decision making, policy making Senate;
  • greater autonomy for the three existing national Branches and, hopefully, a new English Branch; and greater, possibly collegiate, cooperation and collaboration between and across Divisions and Special Groups.

As I have said before, never has there been a more exciting time, in recent years at least, to be a psychologist.

Also in the diary are the DOP Conference in Nottingham and the DECP Conference in London, both this month, the Inclusivity Event in Birmingham in February, the Scottish Branch event in Edinburgh in January, the Welsh Branch event in Cardiff, Open Community Psychology Conference in Birmingham and the NIBPS 50th Anniversary Conference in March and, of course, a DCP 50th Anniversary in Westminster and, of course, our very own BPS Annual Conference in April.

We are also hoping to sign new International agreements with the Icelandic, New Zealand and Swedish Psychology Associations and shall be working much more closely with a number of UK Associations including the BACP, BPC and UKCP, along with building on our associations with BABCP, Mind, Rethink, MHF, CMH and the RCPsych.

So – exciting times for the Society and, I hope exciting times for all of us as we continue to grow and develop as psychologists, both individually and collectively.

May I wish each and every one of you a really happy, fulfilling and satisfying 2016.

Mon, 04/01/2016 - 10:40

Before we all stop for Christmas I just wanted to send you a personal note to thank you all for all that you have been doing for the BPS  over the past year.

Over the past year, I have managed to visit most of you, so thank you very much for the invitations to do so. If you would like me to attend any of your events between now and the end of my presidency at the end of April, when I hand over to Peter Kinderman, just let me know and I'll try my very best to come, or phone or Skype in.

I have managed to visit all of our Branches with the exception of one (and I shall be putting that wrong right in February when I come to Psychology in the Pub in Oxford) and so I have witnessed at first hand the wonderful and exciting work that is going on in the local branches and the national branches.

I have also attended excellent conferences in the North East and South West, as well as in Wessex, Northern Ireland and Scotland, a very good AGM in the North-West, a brilliant public engagement event in London and Home Counties and a teleconference with the Welsh Branch.

The Health, Neuro, Clinical and Coaching conferences that I attended, all in London, were excellent, the DCP, DECP and DFP strategy days in Oxford, Cockfosters, Manchester and London that I attended were all really worthwhile and I also had an excellent visit to Leeds to be with the DSEP  Conference.

In the four nations, the Northern Ireland branch has already led the way with a fantastic national event at Stormont in November paving the way for its 50th anniversary conference in Ballymascanlon in March, and plans are already really well advanced for a BPS Scotland event in Edinburgh in January, a BPS Welsh Branch in March and a national event in April at Westminster.

Finally,  I managed to visit all of our Divisions with the exception of DCoP, who I shall be visiting on 25 January and 4 March, and DART-P, who I shall be visiting, just in the nick of time before I hand over to Peter Kinderman the following week, on 20 April.

The only Special  Groups I have yet to visit are the Special Groups for Psychologists in Health and Social Care and and the Special Group for Independent Practitioners, so just let me know if and when you’d like me to visit.

But in the mean time, my renewed thanks go to all of our members for all that you have achieved this year and my very best wishes to you all for a very happy Christmas and a superb '16!

Together we can! Happy Christmas.

Tue, 22/12/2015 - 14:25

I enjoyed meeting the committee of our Psychology of Women Section at Leeds Beckett University on Friday.

As well as working with the Committee to address questions on financial reporting, media training and press releases, we had useful discussions about the structural review and a possible future name change for the Section.

We also got into the Christmas spirit with some seasonally adjusted T-shirts (see photo) and some festive fare (aka mince pies).

Wed, 16/12/2015 - 11:44

On Wednesday, with about 125 others, the whole BPS Presidential Team were at the University of London Senate House to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the BPS Research Digest in blog form. This blog regularly tops half a million page views per month, has 58,000 followers on Twitter, and 38,000 subscribers to the free fortnightly email. The new podcast, PsychCrunch, recently topped the iTunes podcast chart in the social sciences category. Yet our surveys suggest that only around half our membership access the Digest: if you haven’t, please do. It's fantastic and as someone who reads a daily press briefing in my role as President our Research Digest is always up there and being quoted all over the world.

The evening took the structure of a journal paper on the theme of 'Heaven and Hell': ‘ introduction' by our very own Managing Editor Dr Jon Sutton; a (very amusing) ‘methods' section by our superb Digest editor, Dr Christian Jarrett; a terrifying ‘results' section by Professor Andy Field (University of Sussex) complete with animated 2-metre Daemon; and a sublime ‘discussion' section from Professor Uta Frith (University College, London) with lots of William Blake and some superb slides and effects. (Note to self. Must change my presentation software in time for April's Presidential Address at conference!)

The whole evening was sandwiched between lashings of canapés, champagne (well, almost) and cake and the glitterati were all there. A heavenly, overall, if occasionally hellish (thanks, Andy, for reminding me of the inadequacy of the President's statistical prowess) evening - - so Happy Birthday Team!

And, to round the week off, an evening with the Special Group in Coaching Psychology for the 5th European Coaching Psychology Conference and a day trip to Leeds for a meeting with the committee of our Psychology of Women Section.


Fri, 11/12/2015 - 16:02

I spent the first week of December at three separate BPS events, all held in London. Psychology for Students and Psychology for Graduates, both of which I wrote about last week, and the Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) 50th anniversary conference.

All had high quality keynotes and this year's DCP conference was definitely among the best that I have ever attended.

I came away from these events with three overriding impressions.

  • Firstly, that the standard of UK Psychology, and our research and practice, is world class
  • Secondly, that there is an incredible amount of talent in our A-level psychologists and our undergraduate, postgraduate, pre-qualification and early career psychologists, and that the future of psychology, pure and applied, is in good and safe hands
  • Thirdly, and most importantly, that there are not yet nearly enough women and BAME psychologists in leadership roles throughout our Society. 

This last point was brought home most strikingly last week when, on several occasions at the DCP Conference, it was pointed out that all the speakers in a symposium, or all the members of a panel, were white, middle-class men. Sadly, this was all true.

I have written before about the gender disparity in leadership roles in the BPS. We really do now need to strive for integrity and inclusivity for all (including on issues of sexuality and disability) in order to empower our membership and to achieve greater influence.

So, I hope together that as BPS members we may encourage all our members, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, sexuality or disability, to seriously consider standing for office in this organisation and, if you are someone who is managing or training young psychologists, I ask you to do all that you can to encourage them to also put themselves forward.

Tue, 08/12/2015 - 15:17

I attended the EFPA (European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations) Presidents’ Council meeting on 19-20 November whilst the others on the Presidential Team were at the Trustees’ away day and autumn meeting.

As well as opportunities for informal meetings and discussion, we held the formal Council meeting inside a beautiful old Portuguese institution designed to facilitate ‘social and intellectual fellowship’. The photo shows us just getting ready to start the meeting.

It was good to get an update on the progress of the ‘European Semester’ that’s been running in Portugal recently with a whole range of events bringing colleagues from across Europe together for various events and colloquia during the period. It’s also helped the Portuguese Psychology Association raise the profile of Psychology with their own government and agencies given this concentration of activity.

Next year will see a similar semester in Turkey and then Germany.It would be good to propose having such a semester in the UK in the future I think - obviously something that takes a lot of forward planning but it could be an interesting showcase for us.

WHO is holding a European meeting on Mental Health in Copenhagen on 8 December and they have invited psychologists (through EFPA) to take part for the first time, joining other professions including psychiatrists, social workers and mental health nurses.

There was a lot of discussion about the extent of current EU regulation of the profession of psychology and how to feed into the proposals to deregulate across many professions that are being pursued at the moment by the EU. There was, as you might imagine given the different regulations currently in place across the EU, a very wide range of views – many proposed very passionately as ‘the only appropriate way’ for the profession to be managed. The consultations will be ongoing for some time across the various member states.

Finally we were expecting to decide on whether the European Congress of Psychology in 2019 would be held in Moscow or not. There had been concerns over visa and financial arrangements, as well as the need to have assurances about a lack of interference with the academic programming which meant that the decision was not reached as expected at the last General Assembly held in Milan in July and had been postponed til this meeting.

However a proposal to sign a formal memorandum of understanding with the Moscow government to ensure these concerns were addressed appropriately had been put forward and so this will be put together and signed before we finally agree the 2019 arrangements.  In the meantime, the 2017 congress will be held in Amsterdam.

Fri, 04/12/2015 - 11:27

Professor Jamie Hacker HughesThis week has continued to be fantastic.

On Tuesday, I welcomed 650 A and AS Level students to the London Psychology for Students event. We hold two of these at the end of every year – one outside London and one in London -  and the first of these took place in Sheffield a couple of weeks ago.

In London the students listened to:

  • Dr Peter Lovatt (‘Dr Dance’) from the University of Hertfordshire on the psychology of dance;
  • Dr Richard Stephens, the psychobiologist from Keele University on the psychology of swearing; and
  • Forensic psychologist Dr Julian Boon from the University of Leicester on criminal profiling and crime scene assessment.

On Wednesday, I welcomed a similar number of psychology graduates to our Psychology for Graduates event, again in London, where I  joined the other keynote speakers:

  • John Amaechi, psychologist and former NBA basketball player, of Amaechi Performance Systems;
  • George Kitsaras, our 50000th member and assistant psychologist with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust;
  • Dr Carolyn Mair of London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London;
  • James Randall-James, Co-Chair of Pre-Qualifications Group (DCP) and Steph Minchin Pre-Qualifications Group (DCP), clinical psychology trainees at the University of Hertfordshire;
  • Dr Rob Yeung, an organisational psychologist from Talentspace Ltd.

The atmosphere and buzz at both events was electric and the interest in the BPS and several other stands in the exhibition stalls was incredible.

Our profession and discipline of psychology is in very good hands. Good luck to everyone who attended both events and, if you need any more information, just get in touch!

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 16:35