DECP to debate the psychiatric diagnosis of children

The BPS Division of Educational and Child Psychology (DECP) is holding its Annual Conference in London from 6-8 January under the title ‘Towards an inclusive psychology - do labels and diagnoses help or hinder?’

Topics to be discussed in the conference include:

  • Is there any value in the psychiatric diagnoses that are increasingly applied to our children?
  • Are autism and ADHD realities or money-making myths created by drug companies and service providers?
  • Should we be trying to control the behaviour of children as young as six years with psychiatric medication?

The conference programme features many thought-provoking speakers, including:

  • Professor Sami Timimi (author and consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist) will debate the value and utility of the label of Autism with Dr Liz Pellicano (developmental cognitive scientist)
  • Dr Dawn Harper (GP and presenter of C4's Embarrassing Bodies) and Dr Ravi Jayaram (consultant paediatrician) will talk about their experiences making the programme Born Naughty and discuss the role which the media plays in bringing complex needs of childhood to a wider audience.
  • Sarah Wild, headteacher of Limpsfield Grange will discuss the making of the documentary Girls with Autism, accompanied by some of her pupils.
  • Professor Peter Kinderman (University of Liverpool) will address the main theme of the conference. He is the author of many articles and research papers and the recent book 'A Prescription for Psychiatry: Why we need a whole new approach to mental health and wellbeing'.
  • Andre Imich (SEN and Disability Professional Adviser, Department for Education) will address the conference on the progress of the government's Special Educational Needs (SEN) reforms and the role educational psychologists are playing within it.

Charmian Hobbs, chair of the DECP, says:

“In the practice of educational psychology, there is an ongoing tension between the provision of education for children with additional needs based on a medical model of defects, focusing on the problem with the child and on difference rather than normality, on illness rather than well-being and on deficit rather than potential.

“In recent decades, there has been an emphasis on inclusive practice – on meeting the needs of all children within mainstream schools and the community.

“The challenge for educational psychologists today is to maintain this inclusive practice despite the impact of austerity and changes in local and national governmental policy. It is that challenge we shall be debating at our conference.”

Today, Tuesday 5 January, sees the DECP's Trainee Education Psychologist (TWP) event showcasing research from current trainees and newly qualified EPs. The TEP provides an opportunity for both current trainees and new entrants to the profession to disseminate the findings from their research activity to those currently in training.

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