The CYPF is primarily made up of Clinical Psychologists who specialise in working with children, young people and their families, although other professions may join as Associate members.
The Annual General Meeting of the Division of Clinical Psychology, Faculty for Children, Young People and their Families will be held on Wednesday 22 January 2020, 1.15pm at Voco St Johns Solihull, 651 Warwick Road, Solihull, B91 1AT.
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On this page you'll find news, updates, and blog articles specifically relevant to the work and interests of the DCP Faculty for Children, Young People, and their Families.
For news and articles relevant to the wider Society please visit the main BPS news page.
Paediatric Psychology Network - October 2019Show content
Supporting Psychologists in District General Hospitals
On 3rd October, the Paediatric Psychology Network hosted an event for psychologists working in Paediatrics in District General Hospitals. Whilst Paediatric Psychology is now generally well integrated and established in the UK’s Children’s Hospitals (although demand continues to outstrip provision), Paediatric Psychology in DGH settings is sparse and patchy and the impact of this on children with medical conditions accessing the right support is acutely felt.
With the greater acknowledgement of the interplay between physical health and psychological factors, the need for specialist assessment and intervention in children with physical health needs has translated into inclusion in a number of key pieces of national guidance. Children with diabetes and cystic fibrosis, for example, now have mandated access to specialist psychological assessment and intervention. To those working in child health, this makes absolute sense. Ultimately the child’s physical and psychological health is paramount, and Paediatric Psychologists contribute not only to improved psychological outcomes in the child, but also their physical health outcomes through work on adjustment, adherence and procedures. With this comes the health economic benefit to the NHS – both short and long term savings are easily quantified and realised through our clinical work. Despite this making intuitive sense, services remain in short supply and access is often condition-specific rather than needs-led.
Whilst it is welcome progress that some health conditions now mandate psychological assessment and intervention, this has created a number of challenges for those working in Paediatric Psychology. These issues were highlighted by delegates on the Supporting Paediatric Psychology in DGH day and need to be taken forward. First, what if your child doesn’t have one of the conditions which has guidance that says psychological support should be provided? Many other conditions have guidance highlighting the importance of psychological support but these, often driven by charities, have not yet translated into mandated funding. Children with many other health conditions miss out and there is often significant geographical disparity in service provision. Given that disease-related factors are just one small predictor of psychological adjustment and functioning, this is not a needs-led way of ensuring that the children who are most at risk of poorer psychological and physical health outcomes can access specialist support. Second, the posts have developed in systems which have not traditionally employed psychologists – the skillset required to work within Paediatrics are often more specialist than are developed in generic Clinical Psychology training in any depth, in addition to the complexity of often working through consultation and indirect work through other medical professionals. Paediatric Psychologists use a specific skill set to work effectively in this field – just like Psychologists working in CAMHS will have specialist knowledge of severe mental health difficulties. Newly qualified grade posts and standalone posts are common, lacking the professional structure necessary to offer specialist supervision and support. Third, where the posts are created, systems inevitably come to see the value of Paediatric Psychology in children with health conditions and are keen to expand services. With many posts being of a junior grade and without a structure around them, service expansion is very difficult and therefore the support on offer remains patchy.
Many of these challenges face other Psychologists working in specialist areas, and indeed many of the themes are reminiscent of the recent challenges outlined by BPS Chief Executive, Sarb Bajwa in his recent blog:
with professional structure and lack of support in under resourced services cited by the recent membership survey. The BPS wants to hear more about these issues, and we have an opportunity now to speak up about these challenges. The huge response to this PPN event showed that Paediatric Psychologists working in DGHs need a professional network to better support them to provide effective services that best meet the needs of children and families – and to grow these services so that inequality of access is removed. The national context currently could not better support the growth of our profession. With child mental health at the top of the political and social agenda, we must keep reminding those with influence that children with physical health needs are more likely to experience mental health difficulties, and that mental health difficulties and sub-threshold issues such as adjustment and procedural distress have a negative impact on physical health in the long term. Therefore this specialist field of psychology has an important role to play in the wider child mental health agenda. The NHS Long term Plan also highlights many areas where Paediatric Psychologists are important – integration of physical and mental health and integration of psychology in healthcare teams are cornerstones of what we do. Not only are we already successful at achieving integration, but we are successful at demonstrating its benefits.
So how do we move forward? As so excellently put by Hilary Griggs (Lead Consultant Clinical Psychologist for Paediatric Psychology Service, Shrewsbury) on the 3rd October, the ideal is for all children with physical health needs to be able to access specialist assessment and intervention should they need it – whether this is from their DGH or tertiary centre. Children shouldn’t have to have a certain condition to qualify for this help, and they shouldn’t have to travel over an hour for it. We need to ensure that we continue to use the PPN, Faculty for CYPF, DCP and BPS to have a voice through responding to consultations and development of our own literature to highlight the needs of this population and the role of Paediatric Psychology in supporting them – we cannot leave this to families and charities to lobby for and we need to use our professional bodies and evidence base to shape the services that provide healthcare for these children. We need to be a strong voice within the BPS on issues of workforce structures to ensure that when posts are created, they exist within safe and appropriate structures that provide adequate support. To do this we need to consider how we ensure bodies such as NHS England know about successful models of provision, such as standalone services in Shropshire and hub and spoke models such as Oxford (who provide the structures within which DGH services are provided). There is a lot of work to be done, and as always, more questions than answers and solutions. But the enthusiasm and drive of the people attending the event showed that ultimately we all simply want better services for this incredibly deserving group of children – and hopefully together we can find ways of working towards that.
Please send any comments and thoughts to the [email protected]
Paediatric Psychology Network July 2019Show content
PPN Blog: Paediatric Psychologists involved in Research
As part of our series of Research Blogs, PPN Research Rep Dr Anita D’Urso caught up with Dr Maria Loades to find out about the experience of Paediatric Clinical Psychologists who are undertaking NIHR Research Fellowships.
1. Tell us about your current role?
I am a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded Doctoral Research Fellow, 3 days a week for 5 years. This means that I have funding to conduct clinically relevant research which will be of value and impact to the NHS, whilst also undertaking a PhD. My focus is on depression in teens with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). There are several research questions that I am aiming to tackle over the duration of my fellowship award. These include:
- Establishing an estimate of how prevalent co-morbid depression is in teens with CFS, and how best to screen for it.
- Examining how depression impacts on outcomes (fatigue, functioning and mood) in teens with CFS at 6 month follow-up.
- Looking at the cognitive and behavioural patterns of teens with CFS who are also depressed compared to those who aren’t.
I will then use this information to develop a treatment approach for this patient group.
2. What does it involve?
To answer my research questions, I will use both data I have collected, and data from existing cohort studies and randomised control trials (RCTs). Over the past 3 years, I have recruited 165 patients, age 12-18 from a Specialist Paediatric CFS team, and interviewed them (and in most instances, one of their parents) using the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (KSADS). This is a semi-structured diagnostic interview, using DSM-5 criteria to make judgements about whether the patient meets the diagnostic criteria for various mental health problems. It is considered to be the gold standard diagnostic assessment for depression in children and teens. In addition, these participants have filled in questionnaires, and I have harvested, with their permission, further questionnaire data and basic demographics, as well as clinical information, from their medical records. Six months later, I have asked these participants to fill in further questionnaire measures. Because of the scale of this project, I have utilised psychology students as Research Assistants, who work under my supervision, to help me to make recruitment calls, consent interested participants into the study, and conduct the interviews. Additionally, I am using data from the previously collected RECOVERY study (observational study of a clinical cohort) and MAGENTA trial (RCT comparing 2 forms of behavioural treatment), and collecting data through questionnaires included in the baseline assessments of the FITNET-NHS study (a large-scale RCT of internet-delivered CBT for CFS).
3. How does it utilise your skills as a Clinical Psychologist?
My research is highly clinically relevant. Because we are recruiting patients, who by definition are teens with health problems which are impacting significantly on their functioning, keeping clinical care as the priority at the forefront of any interactions with the patients has been key. Although we may see the research activities and the clinical encounters as separate, for the patients, they are part of the therapeutic journey. The research interview is often one of the first opportunities for the patient and their family to be listened to, to be validated, to be understood; therefore, the core skills of therapeutic engagement, warmth, empathy and non-judgement, of positive regard, are invaluable. Of course, managing any safeguarding concerns that arise at any stage of patient’s journey through the research process is also key.
As I am supervising research assistants who are psychology students, and providing them with training, my supervision, mentorship and teaching skills are constantly in action. It has been particularly rewarding to see them develop, and their diverse interests and enthusiastic curiosity have really stimulated my thinking and enhanced my work. They have also taught me how to do things I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own, and, for example, I know how to use MS Excel far better as a result!
A particular challenge to me as a Clinical Psychologist has been in conducting a study where we are ultimately aiming to make psychiatric diagnoses. This has at times, not sat comfortably, particularly when it has felt like the diagnostic criteria don’t fit or capture the complexities of the distress experienced by the patient. Whilst it will be incredibly valuable to commissioners and services for planning purposes to have an established prevalence rate of mental health co-morbidities in CFS, the diagnostic criteria have felt limiting and far less useful than a formulation.
The aim of the Doctoral Research Fellowship is to fund potential research leaders of the future, and therefore, the emphasis is on skills development. I put together a bespoke training plan on applying for the fellowship, and through this, have been able to build on the research skills that I have from my core DClinPsy training. For example, I have just completed a 1-week course on RCTs. Building scientist skills, particularly my ability to understand the evidence base and its limitations, will undoubtedly complement and enhance my practitioner skills, and is certainly benefitting my lecturer role.
4. How does it fit with the job you had at the time? (E.g. did you arrange a sabbatical?)
As I received a substantial and generous fellowship award, this has become a major part of my job for the duration of the research. My primary role is as a Senior Lecturer on the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology programme at the University of Bath, and I am essentially on a secondment from that role, with the fellowship award funding backfill to my post.
5. Tell us a bit about why you became interested in the NIHR programme?
The NIHR offer a variety of schemes which focus on those who are conducting research which will be of direct relevance and value to the NHS. This fitted well with me, as a clinician first and foremost. I had previously considered applying for a grant rather than a fellowship; a grant would have funded the specific research project but not my training, or indeed my time, to the same extent. The Doctoral Research Fellowship is designed to fund research training as well as to enable the completion of the research, which fitted well with what I felt I needed to be able to deliver on the intended research and for me to develop my capacity to conduct further research in the future.
6. What would you say are the challenges and benefits to the role?
The main benefit to me has been the opportunity to really focus on research in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do within either a clinical or teaching role. This has meant that I have been able to immerse myself in the research, and to be hands-on at every stage of the process. Without this time, I would not have been able to entertain taking on such an ambitious programme of research, which will be of great benefit to teens with CFS, their families, and clinicians who work with them, as well as to commissioners and service providers.
The major challenge has been maintaining a number of different roles, including being a lecturer, researcher and practitioner, mainly from the point of view of finding time to fit it all into the week. Maintaining a clinical role very part-time (1 day a week) was particularly difficult, as it is very difficult to boundary or restrict the clinical activities to this, and because I was doing research activities within the same service setting, the clinical activities often spilled over into the research time. I have managed this by, temporarily, relinquishing my clinical role, which I miss greatly, but I intend to return to clinical practice in the future.
Dr Maria Loades
Clinical Psychologist/Senior Lecturer/NIHR Research Fellow
Department of Psychology, University of Bath [email protected]
Dr Loades is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship, DRF-2016-09-021). This report is independent research. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.
Paediatric Psychology Network May 2019Show content
Research in Paediatric (Clinical) PsychologyPaediatric Clinical Psychologists have the benefits of training in scientific research methodology to a standard that exceeds many other clinical professionals within healthcare provision. However, it can often feel difficult to utilise the full scope of the skills of the Clinical Psychologist within busy paediatric settings, where demand for service often comes with a time constraint (preparation for surgery, needle phobia and much more!). The ability to assess, formulate and select an interventionbased on the best available evidence and to critically evaluate its efficacy for the child and their family is perhaps the most readily integrated aspect of the “scientist-practitioner” role in the workplace. The many other aspects of Clinical Psychology training – for example, the ability to design and implement high quality projects that aim to investigate and enhance efficacy within a given population – can often seem to take a back seat as clinical interventions regularly take priority withinmany services.
I was fortunate that upon commencing one of my roles, research was identified as an integral part of the job. Even with this written into my job plan, the lure of clinical work was never far away and without a formal academic link, it was difficult to maintain a strong research portfolio. My interest in how to truly integrate research within the clinical role of the Paediatric Psychologist stemmed from both a desire and a need to use our range of skills to demonstrate efficacy and improve service provision, and I hope to share some of the things I have been thinking and reading about in this edition of my blog.
Making LinksOne of the interesting reflections I have from working with our European and International counterparts, is that research and clinical practice in Paediatric Psychology in countries such as the Netherlands and USA seems more integrated than here in the UK. Clinicians and academics here in the UK are often separate entities – how do we join academic endeavour with clinical practice more effectively to ensure more productive outcomes? A chance meeting at a PPN conference led me to meet Associate Professor Anne-Sophie Darlington (Southampton University). With similar interests (children and young adults with cancer), Anne-Sophie and her team invited me to collaborate on part of a large research study. Under the expert guidance of the team, I have come on board as a collaborator; they have completed the background workup (Grant application, protocols, NHS ethics committee – eek!), I have contributed a clinician’s perspective on aspects of design such as the recruitment procedure, got local NHS trust approvals, and recruited from my site. I have commented on paper drafts (highlighting clinical implications, which I hope has added an extra dimension to the discussion) and eventually gained co-authorship. I should say a big thank you to Anne-Sophie and the team at this point – it is not easy for them always getting an email from me saying, “So sorry for the delay, things have been rather hectic here!”
Colleagues through the doctorate training courses can also be valuable sources of support for conducting research – through trainee doctorate dissertations, and having trainees support more routine departmental audit and research whilst on placement. Often, research competencies are focused on the “main” assignments to be completed during training, but to truly integrate the scientist-practitioner ethos, trainees can support other departmental activities that are not formal course requirements – literature searches, helping with audits and pilot studies, for example. Colleagues in the medical profession are also excellent sources of collaboration – PPN Research Rep Anita D’Urso’s collaboration (see links) is a great example of linking up to support our medical colleague’s endeavours – they too often have research requirements for their medical training and often get approached to write for medical publications.
Clinically-Relevant PublicationsAs a clinician, I often read some of the published intervention work with a pang of envy (Check out the Drotar editorial on publishing in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology at the end of the blog if you are inspired to go down this route!). To be able to implement an intervention in a systematic and as controlled a way as possible to evaluate its efficacy is something that often seems unattainable in clinical life. I was fortunate to attend a workshop at the European Paediatric Psychology Conference in Ghent last year, where Jennifer Schurman (Editor of Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology - CPPP) talked about her top tips for getting clinically-focused research published – and I was heartened at the genuine desire to create a space for the dissemination of studies that are truly relevant to clinicians. As Jennifer says, “CPPP lives at the intersection between more traditional, controlled research and clinical application” and actively encourages clinically-relevant submissionsfrom international colleagues. In fact, one of the key drivers of CPPP aligns to many of the challenges faced by as clinicians in the UK: “Pediatric psychologists will increasingly need to demonstrate improvements in key pediatric health outcomes alongside evidence of medical cost offset. Health promotion and early intervention needs to be part of this.” Choosing a journal that is aligned to the aims of your piece of work sounds obvious, but for me as a clinician it was definitely something Ihadn’t given as much consideration to as I should have.
Lessons in Publishing!One of my reflections is that as clinical psychologists (particularly qualifying some time ago), we get very little in the way of “teaching” us how to write up, submit and hopefully publish our work. What does a cover letter look like? How do you respond to reviewer’s comments? Do you need to make all the changes requested? Why can’t they see that my study is great just as it is??? The best experience I have gained is through learning from my more experienced colleagues on wider research teams –asking to see the cover letter, the response to comments etc has been invaluable to my learning. I’ve learnt that those who successfully publish are passionate about getting knowledge out there – and so are happy to help clinicians navigate the academic world!
Jennifer said something which has stuck with me – always to remember that a reviewer’s comments are intended to make your paper stronger! This has given me the courage to submit a couple of other smaller pieces of work without dreading the feedback, and I have remembered these words when addressing the comments.
For those of you more au fait with the research process, CPPP is keen to recruit more international reviewers. Keep your eyes on the Listserve for an announcement on how to put yourself forward as a potential reviewer. The editorial board will support newer reviewers through mentoring; another great way to further critical research skills.
Taking the Routine Stuff… and Writing it Up!One of the workstreams for the PPN this year is to support the membership with developing resources to demonstrate the efficacy of interventions within Paediatric Psychology. We undertook a literature review to ascertain what UK-specific articles we could find pertaining to intervention studies and cost effectiveness in Paediatric Psychology. The special editions in the Journal of Paediatric Psychology and CPPP cropped up time and time again in our search, but there was very little published from UK clinical practice. The articles we did find were inspiring – many described new service pathways and routine data collection – so valuable for us clinicians to learn from and use in new business plans. How do we make it part of our routine practice to collect and write up the data we collect – getting Trust permissions for audit, service evaluation and redesign from the offset so that we can write up the work that we do as we go along. I was further inspired to find an article from Jennifer Schurman et al outlining the importance of quality improvement research in our field
Coupled with my recent attendance at the NHS Improvement Quality Improvement training day (being rolled out across the country), I hope this will inspire the writing up of some of the projects we are engaged in clinically.
Taking my Ramblings ForwardOne of the ideas that was generated when I shared my idea of this blog with some of my colleagues was to write a mini series of blogs, perhaps exploring some of the issues discussed in more depth. Ideas include; Q&A with academics in paediatric psychology discussing how to begin and continue collaborations between academic and clinical psychologists; Q&A with clinical psychologists who have taken up clinical research roles – how they went about it and what it has been like; further hints and tips from editors of journals relevant to paediatric psychology. I would love to hear your thoughts on whether these would be of interest.
Within the PPN committee, we have a new Research Representative role, which we are still developing. What would you like to see the PPN do in terms of supporting research in paediatric psychology? An annual research fair to nurture collaborations? Supporting networking for teams looking to collect similar datasets? Or even a publication forum specifically for paediatric clinical psychologists in the UK?
Please do send your thoughts to [email protected] A big thank you to my colleagues in the Society of Paediatric Psychology and British Psychological Society who have supported the writing of this blog, and to CPPP for allowing open access to the articles cited. Both the Society of Paediatric Psychology and British Psychological Society memberships offer access to high quality journals as benefits for members. Perhaps consider signing up!
Resources I have found useful:
- Interviews with Jennifer Schurman and the scope of CPPP
- Interviews with Jennifer Schurman and the scope of CPPP
- Quality Improvement studies
“I should write that up” articles:
- Implementation of Evidence-Based Psychological Interventions for Pediatric Needle Pain
- Providing psychology support in a district paediatric cardiology service
- Fifteen minute consultation: an approach to the child with chronic headaches
JPP tips: Drotar editorial articles on getting published
- Editorial: Thoughts on Improving the Quality of Manuscripts Submitted to the Journal of Pediatric Psychology: Writing a Convincing Introduction
- Editorial: How to Report Methods in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology
- How to Write an Effective Results and Discussion for the Journal of Pediatric Psychology
Paediatric Psychology Network February 2019Show content
Like for many, the New Year always gives me the opportunity to take a step back and think about the year ahead and what I am setting out to achieve. This year is somewhat different, with the added opportunity for steering the Paediatric Psychology Network Committee in my role as Chair, and so that task of setting out my plans for the year must extend far beyond booking a holiday and trying to exercise more!
I finished 2018 by starting a blog, about which I received some interesting and thought-provoking feedback. In this blog, I hope to address some of the thoughts and questions I received, in addition to setting out the priorities for the PPN and PPNC this year. Addressing some of the feedback is partly helped by the recent publication by Young et al (2018) charting the development of the PPN as part of the CPPP Special Edition.
This paper gives a comprehensive background to the development and current status of the PPN, but I wanted to add my personal thoughts in this blog. What is the difference between being a PPN member, being on the list serve, being a Paediatric Clinical Psychologist… and of course the interaction between all three.
What does the PPN mean to me? I strongly believe that having the PPNC steering us as a professional group has been profoundly important to the growth of Paediatric Psychology and most importantly, having a strong voice in advocating for the psychological needs of children with medical conditions. The committee is made up of an elected team of individuals volunteering their time to take forward at a strategic level the profession of paediatric psychology. Sitting within the British Psychological Society, all PPN and PPNC members must be BPS, Division of Clinical Psychology and Faculty for Children, Young People & their Families members. The committee is supported by a wide range of other PPN members who embark on activity on behalf of the PPN – many of whom were involved in the growth of Paediatric Psychology, and many of whom are bringing new and fresh eyes. The committee meets three times a year to plan and implement an annual workstream, all of which is focused on getting the best possible care for the children, young people and families with health needs that we work with, through service and strategic influence. The worskstream is implemented by committee and PPN members, and there are many other non-PPN members feeding into this work too. Meetings are topped up with many hours of volunteered time, either supported by an individual’s NHS Trust, or through goodwill of the individual. At the risk of putting anyone off joining, the committee really is a commitment! As the PPNC has developed, the opportunities we are being given, often to come on board with hugely important pieces of multi-disciplinary work are increasing. I must pay tribute to the many individuals throughout the membership whose commitment to our field has seen such growth in the profession and most importantly, the development of services that help our patient group. In recent years, the role of the PPNC and a strong membership base that is willing to engage, has really seen noticeable increases in the voice that we are able to have on behalf of our patient groups’ needs.
What does this mean in practice? The PPN has been involved in a number of key policies recently: including Facing the Future, the NICE diabetes management guidance, providing input into documents such as What Good Looks Like, and has supported the development of psychological competencies for MDT staff in Paediatrics – and many more. The current focus on child and adolescent mental health is creating a focus on a broader population that we work with; however, as children with physical health needs often have increased rates of mental health difficulties and sub-clinical levels of psychological distress, they must not be overlooked in this wide-ranging agenda - which brings me onto the plans for this year.
2018 saw child and adolescent mental health brought sharply into the public, professional and political domain. The BPS Senate voted to make this their policy focus; the government green paper, Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health provision led to a new structure of mental health support directly within schools, and the NHS Long Term Plan re-affirmed the commitment to achieving parity of esteem for mental health. This is a real opportunity for us to highlight the additional needs of children and young people with physical health needs who also may experience additional mental health needs. Those of us in paediatrics know that “mental health” in this group does not just mean “diagnosable” mental health conditions but the whole spectrum of associated psychological needs from adjustment to procedural distress and everything in between. We need to ensure that the unique specific needs of this group of children are acknowledged within the the wider mental health agenda and part of the focus on children’s mental health. Taking forward this agenda, the PPN is working closely with our colleagues within the BPS (through the Faculty and BPS Policy team), in NHS England, RCPsych, and RCPCH. Areas of work include a joint position statement to highlight the needs of this cohort of children; forming cross-discipline groups to consider the needs of these children; to identify the research gaps, the health economics data needed and to better understand the evidence behind what helps these children. We are looking for examples of innovative service models that are already doing and evidencing effective care for these pathways.
To this end, the PPNC is currently finalising the workstream for 2019, which I hope to update you on in March. There are always opportunities to get involved in committee and wider PPN work – from reviewing resources, to reading drafts of articles, to sharing your views and telling us about the fabulous work you are doing within your service. We always welcome volunteers who are willing to give some time to support the activity of the PPN and the PPNC.
I think I can confidently say it will be a busy year for the PPN and the committee! I look forward to meeting with more of you over the coming months and do not hesitate to get in touch on [email protected] and follow us on Twitter (@theppn_uk).
Paediatric Psychology Network October 2018Show content
Gorgeous Ghent and International Introductions
Once described by the Lonely Planet as the Belgium’s best kept secret, the stunning city of Ghent became the backdrop for the Third European Paediatric Psychology Conference (EPPC). The third conference bringing together paediatric psychologists across Europe also provided the setting for the first internationally held meeting of the International Committee of the Society for Paediatric Psychology (SPP). Convened by chair Laura Simons, the meeting brought together representatives from the respective paediatric psychology networks from the USA, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Sweden. The aims of the meeting were to understand the development and current state of the networks represented, and to discuss how international collaborations could be enhanced for the advancement of paediatric psychology and most importantly the dissemination of research and clinical practice that supports children with medical needs.
Finding myself in a room with so many eminent psychologists from around the world, I was struck with a sense of responsibility for what we were representing. Our professions, and the children and families with whom we work. Hearing in turn how the various networks had evolved, it was clear that despite the differences between how we are set up and run, the common theme is universal: how do we best organise ourselves as a profession to most effectively be the voice for what helps children with medical needs and their families. As my colleague Nicola Doherty said of her time visiting a number of international centres through the Churchill Fellowship, we may be set up differently but, ultimately, we all work towards the same goal.
I had some really interesting reflections from the meeting. The PPN-UK is relatively far along in terms of being an established body to represent paediatric psychology, and its development and work is hugely benefited from being a part of the existing British Psychological Society structure. I hope that the PPN-UK can support other countries through advice and onsultation on the process of becoming a formalised organisation, as I have no doubt this is to the advantage of the profession and of course the children and families. We have a long way to go until we reach anywhere near the size of our USA counterparts in the SPP (over 2000 members!) and we have some work to do in extending our membership to those working in the field who are not PPN-UK members. The SPP membership (a mere $55 a year, that anyone around the world can join!) offers access to the Journal of Pediatric Psychology and Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology respectively, which undoubtedly increases the value of its membership. In addition, international members can apply for a variety of travel awards for the SPP conference and collaboration awards. The existence of a formalised structure in the PPN-UK clearly of benefit to the children and families we are set up to ultimately serve – through its presence at national level meetings, commentary on consultations, influence on policy and many other activities, the PPN-UK represents the knowledge we have within the UK about how to best support this cohort of children. But how can we increase the direct benefit of PPN-UK membership to paediatric psychologists working in the UK so that we encourage membership that in turn leads to a stronger voice and influence?
Moving forward, the desire to collaborate was strong. Talk of a European Journal of Paediatric Psychology is perhaps at this point at a very embryonic stage, but a European Committee for Paediatric Psychology to link in with the International Committee of the SPP and to formalise a structure for the planning of the EPPC and support the development of Paediatric Psychology Networks across Europe, is a real possibility. One day, there might even be a true International Conference for Paediatric Psychology! A theme of the conference itself was the use of technology in making interventions more accessible to our children and families, and we need to utilise this same technology to strengthen our links with each other as colleagues and networks. Webinars, online content, and teleconferences (time zone permitting!) are all ways in which we can become more closely linked and share our learning.
The meeting, along with the conference, was exciting and inspiring. As the incoming chair for the PPN-UK, it gave me much food for thought on how to take our network, our practice and our learning international. It showed me how much scope there is for sharing our knowledge and practice. It gave me ideas on how we can support other countries in their development of a paediatric psychology network. It crystalised the need to make PPN-UK membership more appealing to paediatric psychologists working in the UK. Ultimately, it all comes down to the same question, wherever we practice in the world: how do we organise ourselves as a profession in order to maximise the impact and efficacy we have in supporting children with medical needs and their families? Over the coming two years in my role as PPN-UK chair, I look forward to taking on some of these opportunities and challenges.