You are currently viewing our classic site, if you wish to visit the new site click here

Presidential Blog

A red dragonOn Monday I travelled to Cardiff for a meeting with Mary Clare O'Connell, outgoing Chair of BPS Cymru (the BPS Welsh Branch), Tanja Siggs, the Society's Legislation Policy Advisor and Nerys Evans, former Plaid Cymru AM (Assembly Member) and now the Director of Deryn Public Affairs, the consultancy who provides the Society’s public affairs function in Wales.

The hope is to arrange an event in early 2016 in the Senedd, the Welsh Assembly, to showcase psychology, the work of the BPS and, in particular, some of our current concerns and campaigns.

This will follow next Monday's event organised by the Northern Ireland Branch at Stormont and similar events are being planned for early next year by the BPS Scotland Branch, hopefully at Holyrood, and, nationally, an event at Westminster, all designed to raise the profile of psychology to our politicians and to maximise our presence and visibility both nationally and in all four of our nations.

Fri, 27/11/2015 - 10:47

Professor Carolyn Kagan opens the second day of the 2015 Festival of Community Psychology

It was really brilliant to be able to Skype in to the Festival of Community Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University on Friday 20 November.

The conference itself ran for three days and was very well attended - the photograph shows Carolyn Kagan opening the second day.

Just from the time that I was able to Skype in I could tell that the conference was very lively and had a very positive vibe to it. It was especially good to be able to welcome visitors from Barcelona and practice my very basic Catalan on them!

Tue, 24/11/2015 - 14:28

It was a great pleasure for me to be invited to attend the 40th Annual Conference of the Psychological Society of Ireland in Galway last week and to sign an historic Memorandum of Understanding between the British Psychological Society and the Psychological Society of Ireland.

Mon, 16/11/2015 - 12:10

The Elizabeth Tower, Palace of WestminsterI blogged recently about the Society’s activity at this autumn’s party conferences.

The same effort to maximise our impact has seen me attend a number of meetings in and around the Palace of Westminster recently.

I spoke at a meeting hosted by Lord Leigh of Hurley raising a number of concerns, including the availability of a variety of therapies, the battle against stigma and funding for children’s and young people’s services.

Then I attended a meeting where Alastair Burt spoke about children’s mental health care as well as the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme and long-term conditions as part of the mental health priorities for the new Government. At the meeting, the Minister publicly thanked us for the useful documents we had provided at the conference.

Other events have included meetings Lord Kamlesh Patel and Baroness Sheila Hollins and attending two events on military and veterans’ mental health.

Society members were also well represented at the launch of Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group report ‘Mindful Nation UK’ as Mark Williams and Willem Kuyken, both clinical psychologists from the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, were among the speakers. The event was attended both by a number of MPs and and Peers together with pupils from the UCL Academy and Tonbridge School.

Wed, 11/11/2015 - 11:45

On Wednesday I attended our Wessex Branch’s fourth military conference in Basingstoke. This annual event has become an important opportunity for psychologists of all kinds to discuss the psychological health of military personnel, veterans and their families.

This year’s keynote speakers were Professor Sir Simon Wessely, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (seen in the photo above), Rob Shenton, an Army officer and endurance runner with both the Marathon des Sables and Himalayas Marathon under his belt and personal experience of psychological challenges, and me.

Many thanks to the Wessex Branch committee and conference organisers for staging this event. I am pictured below with Fiona Butcher from the committee.

Thu, 05/11/2015 - 14:30

There was a film crew in front of the University of London’s Senate House and rumours that Brad Pitt was somewhere in the building.

Whether Mr Pitt was there or not I was there for the History of Psychology Centre symposium on the origins of clinical psychology as a profession.

The event looked forward to next year’s 50th birthday of the Division of Clinical Psychology and featured four of its most distinguished members as speakers.

Bill Yule spoke on the early days of clinical psychology, introducing us to some big personalities who operated in a very different climate to the one health professionals are used to today.

Jennifer Clegg looked at four ‘lensmakers’ who had sharpened our vision of what clinical psychology might become: Jack Tizard, Ann and Alan Clark, and Peter Mittler. It was lovely to see Peter was in the audience to hear her speak.

Anne Richardson, shown in the photograph here, looked at the profession’s attempts over the years to influence government in a continually shifting political climate. So determined was she to increase this influence herself that after working as a clinical psychologist at a senior level she became a civil servant and served as a Department of Health adviser on mental health.

After lunch a short presentation from Dr Saima Lofgren (Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust) brought us up to date on the emergence of cultural concerns in clinical psychology.

Bob Woods ended the day with a talk on the development of our understanding of dementia: ‘Finding the person behind the label.’

If you could not be among the audience for the symposium look out for the History of Psychology Centre’s monograph ‘Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives.’ It has been edited by John Hall, David Pilgrim and Graham Turpin, and will be published before the end of the year.

A video of the lectures will be available shortly.

Tue, 03/11/2015 - 11:00

One of our six strategic goals under the Society’s 
Strategic Plan for 2015-20 is to maximise the impact of psychology on public policy.

With that in mind, the Presidential team was active at the main party conferences this autumn.

I attended the Liberal Democrat Conference, where I took part in useful meetings with the party’s defence, health and work and pensions teams, meeting with Norman Lamb MP and with Baronesses Manzoor, Jolly and Walmsley.

Peter Kinderman, the Society’s Vice President, went to the Labour conference and met the shadow ministers Luciana Berger MP, Jenny Chapman MP and Heidi Alexander MP. He describes their meetings as ‘really positive’ and reports that all three were interested in the psychological and social aspects of their briefs.

I also attended the Conservative conference, meeting AlIstair Burt MP, the community and social care minister. The Society gave everyone whom we met USB memory sticks containing our policy briefings on topics such as our behaviour change briefings.

Fri, 30/10/2015 - 11:27

College Court, Leicester

                                                          College Court, Leicester


The BPS General Assembly met at the University of Leicester’s College Court conference hotel – a mile or so from the Society’s offices.

Perhaps helped by the pleasant venue, it proved a notably upbeat event.

General Assembly brings together the Society’s Trustees and representatives of all our member networks. It is our annual opportunity to discuss strategic issues for our organisation.

This year’s discussions were dominated by our current review of the Society's structure.

The functioning of the Society's branches was a subject for much discussion, as well as the Society's governance structures, which are also the subject of a concurrent governance review.

It was also recognised that there is a need for all our member networks to work together more closely – the recent outbreak of joint conferences has been a step in this direction and we hope there will be many more such activities like this in the future.

Overall, tere was a real feeling of purpose in the discussions, with recognition of the need for change from just about everyone taking part.

The ideas generated in the General Assembly discussions will now be taken forward by the Review Group to the Society’s trustees and turned into concrete proposals for action.

Thu, 29/10/2015 - 15:30






I enjoyed hearing about the work of DCP Wales at its AGM in Newtown, Powys, today and meeting its chair Dr Beth Parry Jones.

It was good to visit such a lively branch of our Division of Clinical Psychology and be with the committee for their AGM.

It was very good to Dr Alex Eapejo talking about attachment and trauma.

Wed, 21/10/2015 - 15:53

Psychological health and wellbeing have been very much in the news over the last week or so with World Mental Health Week and the run up to World Mental Health Day, which I mentioned recently in this blog.

Interestingly, the issue of psychological health trends in independent schools has also been raised in research this month from the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC). The Sunday Times reported the findings as ‘Top schools face mental health crisis’.  

This goes to show that psychological stresses can impact people of all ages and backgrounds. Many children and young people face mental health challenges. The difference perhaps is that some of the schools mentioned in this report may have the funding to help put in place extra support for both pupils and staff to help when problems arise.  

I should highlight that the BPS, working in partnership with a range of organisations, has been part of an initiative called MindEd. This is an online resource for teachers, teaching assistants, play workers and others who work with children to help them to recognise and understand some of the common problems that affect the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.

Hopefully, BPS members, and other professionals working with children, will continue to spread the word about MindEd, in order to help support children of all backgrounds.

Thu, 15/10/2015 - 13:58