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Special Group for Independent Practitioners

Whether you are an existing member, thinking about joining our group or interested in one of our events, we hope you find what you are looking for.


The term Psychologist in Independent Practice encompasses all Chartered and, where appropriate, HCPC registered members of the British Psychological Society (BPS) who: Provide psychological services across the full range of applied psychology.

  • Work in any context of practice (individual, couple, family, small group, service/team or organisational).
  • Operate under one of the following legal business entities: i) Self-employed, ii) employed as a Director of their own limited company, iii) a Business Partner, or iv) a member of a Cooperative through which they provide their psychological services as their main form of employment or part of a portfolio career.
  • Follow the BPS Code of Conduct and Practice Guidelines, and the HCPC Code of Conduct when required.

The demands of working in and managing an independent psychology practice are essentially different from those of being employed by an organisation, posing specific challenges with respect to organisational aspects of practice (including financial and legal aspects); the maintenance of professional standards of competence and particular ethical dilemmas; there can also be a sense of isolation from professional colleagues and practice can at times be especially challenging as well as lonely.

N.B. The term ‘independent practice’ (rather than ‘private practice) is used by the SGIP to reflect the broad and diverse contexts in which our members practice.


Purpose, values and aims

Our purpose

  • to be a truly cross-divisional/ domain body to support, represent, advocate for and promote the advancement of the particular interests of the growing body of Independent Practitioners within the BPS

  • to determine and deliver CPD events relevant to IPs’ practice and development, in close collaboration with our members

  • to provide opportunities for networking and sharing of our experiences of Independent Practice

Our values

  • Respect: particularly in relation to issues of confidentiality, power and consent

  • Competence: including possession of appropriate skills and care needed, limits of competence, need to maintain technical and practical skills

  • Responsibility: in terms of the use of knowledge and skills, professional accountability, competing duties

  • Integrity: in maintaining personal and professional boundaries, avoidance of exploitation, conflicts of interest and self-interest.

  • Diversity and inclusivity: in all that we do

Our aims

  • Be a collective voice for Independent Practitioners from all of the Divisions, to raise the profile of IP’s, and to represent our particular needs to various bodies, especially the BPS.

  • Support members by providing, and signposting to, the practical knowledge required to establish and run an Independent Practice and comply with statutory and ethical regulations.

  • Provide opportunities to enhance our practice through forums; networks; easy access to information; updates and advice from each other, and from experts in various aspects of Independent Practice, such as the legal and financial fields; access peer support; to gain help and opinions from others and to a source mentoring.

  • Integrate the various areas of applied psychology and diverse mix of business models. The main goal is to draw together all areas of psychological practice and expertise in the independent field as a resource for members.

  • Provide a forum for networking, discussion, and research. Ensuring that all of our provision is tailored to the needs of the membership and to appropriate experience levels (from absolute beginner – or even just interested – to long-term expert).

2020 - 2021 Priorities and Beyond

  • Provide monthly Peer Practice Hubs.
  • Host 4 x 2-hour interactive webinars on Independent Practice a year free or at a very low cost to our members. Webinars are live and recorded, accessible to all members  alongside complementary materials and slides.
  • Run a one-day long masterclass led by an expert, streamed with a recording available to participants.
  • Keep you updated with information on the purpose and plans for each year.
  • Survey members and non-members in all of the BPS Divisions about their CPD, support needs, and ways of working relating to Independent Practice.
  • Represent the interests of IP’s at the Professional Practice Board
  • Provide updates on key changes which may impact Independent Practitioners or be of prime interest on the website and the members’ Newsletter.

We  are very pleased to say that our SGIP Committee has been able to deliver all of these priorities.

Our Ambitions for 2021/2022 

To repeat the above and:

  • Develop Independent Practice toolkits for members to use including templates; how to guides; sources of information and FAQ’s.
  • Develop an online resource with succinct clear, practical suggestions; signposting to expert advice; to peer groups and support; SGIP events and other events of potential interest.
  • Negotiate free and low-cost access to key Independent Practice resources and journals.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Plan

Last year saw an enormous expansion of the Special Group of Independent Practitioners (SGIP) CPD offer to our members, which included webinars, peer hubs, special topic peer hubs and a whole day workshop.

Summary SGIP CPD Plan for March 2022

This download can only be accessed by SGIP members


Discussion List

One of the key benefits of being a member of the Special Group for Independent Practitioners (SGIP) is our dedicated email list. It gives members the ability to be in contact with, ask questions of, seek advice from and just chew the fat with a wide range of independent psychologists from all of the BPS divisions and across the UK.

It is easy to join the list and it enables you to post an enquiry and  receive views, feedback and facts from those who have previous experience or are undergoing similar difficulties or opportunities.

To join the discussion list you will need to be a member of SGIP, opt into receiving email communication from the Society and provide a working email address. You can change your settings by logging into the member portal and then 'Preferences'.

To be added to the discussion group you need to email Member Networks at the BPS to request the address. Please include your membership number and you will need to use the email address linked to your membership record to participate in the discussion.

Providing effective therapy via video

Most psychologists have experience of offering telephone consultations, and there are many similar considerations in having a video session.

There is good evidence that therapy can be delivered competently via different media, is usually acceptable to the client, and that it is possible to build up therapeutic relationships that are as strong as those formed in face-to-face therapy.

The information presented here is a resource for those planning video consultations and is not intended to replace local guidance.

It is recommended that you also consult any policy and/or guidance documents relevant to your NHS Trust/organisation.

Competition Law

The Special Group of Independent Practitioners (SGIP) will be providing support to members to develop their practices in a variety of ways that would not breach Competition Law, such as “how to manage and price your time and market your services”. This will include a special Peer Hub meeting in the Autumn.

Please make sure you are aware of competition law and how this could potentially be an issue when discussing charging practices.

The government website has some helpful information and guidance.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has some specific guidance and a case study describing the action taken against a group of medical consultants and a private health provider who undertook to fix prices for the price of an initial consultation. 

Lessons Learnt
  • Never agree to fix prices or share future pricing information with competitors; it can be illegal to agree on pricing even if you don’t have to change your prices as a consequence
  • Never suggest or try to facilitate an arrangement where competitors fix or coordinate prices or share future pricing information
  • You can find out what prices are charged by your competitors where this information is publicly available, but you must not discuss with rivals their future prices or pricing intentions
  • If 2 or more competitors participate in an anti-competitive arrangement, whether written or verbal, it is illegal - it doesn’t matter if not all competitors in the market participate
  • If you are approached to join an illegal pricing arrangement – reject the approach immediately and unequivocally, and report the incident to the CMA
  • Regardless of whether you are a medical practitioner in private practice, a small business or a sole trader - competition law equally applies to you

Peer Practice

These online spaces are an opportunity for SGIP members to connect, share and reflect on their experience as independent practitioners.

Hubs will run for one hour once a month and be facilitated by two members of the committee.


  • Monday 12 September 2022 4pm - 5pm
  • Monday 17 Ocotber 2022 1pm - 2pm
  • Monday 14 November 2022 4pm - 5pm
  • Monday 12 December 2022 1pm - 2pm         

Please note that these spaces are not therapy groups.

How to attend

To access the meeting, download details.

Peer practice joining instructions

This download can only be accessed by SGIP members

Please note: the events are free to attend and are only accessible to SGIP Members, which means you will need to log into your BPS website account to access. We advise adding these to your calendar.

On the day, places will be given on a first come first serve basis. To improve your experience we are capping our numbers at 15 participants. When the numbers reach this amount, the meeting will be locked, so please dial in a few minutes early.


Chair - Christine Hamilton

Christine Hamilton is an Occupational & Coaching Psychologist with an Honours Degree in Psychology from Cardiff University.

An experienced leadership & management development consultant, she has experience working in public, private, and not for profit sectors, she is She is a senior consultant with Affina OD (AOD) and EdoMidas, as well as having an independent practice.

She is a registered Coach with NHS Education for Scotland and as such undertakes GP and director level coaching within the NHS and other parts of the public sector.

Christine is qualified and experienced in a wide range of development techniques and psychometrics.

She has held Head of OD roles in a number of public sector organisations and also been a Leadership Development Consultant with a national remit.

She is Past Chair of the Division of Occupational Psychology (Scotland-DOPS) and enjoys working with people who want to improve or regain their performance, motivations and well being.

Christine uses a pragmatic combination of evidence based team interventions, psycho dynamic approaches and coaching psychology in her coaching work.

Her current projects include:

  1. "Team Based Working" using evidence based diagnostics and development tool kits and materials
  2. In Depth Development Assessments to enable focus upon individual's signature strengths in the private sector
  3. Leadership Development Programmes (including for aspiring Heads of Clinical Psychology departments within the NHS Scotland)
  4. Transitions Programmes, for individuals undergoing large personal change in work and/ or having to lead others through major transitions

Past Chair - vacant

Honorary Treasurer - Vacant

Honorary Secretary - Vacant

Committee Member - Elaine Iljon-Foreman

Elaine Iljon-Foreman is a highly regarded independent psychologist, owner of Freedom to Fly, a company that specialises in the treatment of fear of flying and other anxiety related problems.

She holds an Honours Degree from Durham University, a Master’s Degree from Aberdeen University.

She is Chartered, and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, an HCPC Registered Practitioner (Clinical) and BABCP and UKCP accredited.

Her highly specialised treatment programme is based on over 30 years of clinical experience, and her ongoing research and development of cognitive behaviour therapy.

Research into the treatment of anxiety has been undertaken at Middlesex Hospital Medical School and invitations to present her findings have taken her to Europe, the Americas, Australia and the Far East.

Lectures and workshops are given both nationally and internationally on an ongoing basis to professional and self help audiences.

Elaine’s many interviews on radio and T.V. programmes, along with her research results have been presented on an international platform.

Her professional views are regularly sought by TV and Radio in recognition of her clinical research into anxieties and phobias.

Elaine has published extensively in her specialist field.

Committee Member - Louise Langman

Committee Member - Coleen Mercer-Quinn

Committee Member - Rosie Gilderthorp

Dr Rosie Gilderthorp, Clinical Psychologist, Podcaster and Writer, holds an English degree from York University, a postgraduate diploma from the Open University, a doctorate in clinical psychology from Canterbury Christ Church University; and is currently studying for an MBA with the University of Warwick.

Through her social enterprise, the Innovation in Mental Health Project (CIC) she provides psychological therapy to leaders and entrepreneurs struggling with their mental health.

She also teaches other psychologists and therapists about creating values-based, fulfilling private practices through her podcast The Business of Psychology, online course, and membership community.

During the pandemic, Rosie has also begun applying her experience to working with teams to protect mental health during periods of change and uncertainty.

Profits from these activities are currently used to provide services to organisations where staff has suffered due to the impact of the pandemic.

Committee Member - Carole Allan

Dr Carole Allan, C Psychol, FBPsS, HonMBPsS is a Clinical Psychologist, chartered by the British Psychological Society an SGIP Committee Carole Allan Biod registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Her career has spanned a variety of clinical leadership, organizational, and academic roles within the NHS in Scotland.  

She has held a variety of roles within the BPS.  This has included Chair of the Special Group of Independent Practitioners, Chair of the Committee for Training in Clinical Psychology, Chair of the Professional Practice Board, and BPS President and Honorary General Secretary for the Society.  

She is a Trustee with a national mental health charity and a Scottish arts organization. 

She now practices as an independent clinical psychologist. Her clinical interests are in the fields of mental health, addictions, trauma, occupational health.  and the governance aspects of clinical practice.

In 2021 was awarded Honorary Life Membership for outstanding service to psychology through the British Psychological Society.

Committee Member - Paula Dixon

Committee Member - Tara Quinn-Cirillo

Dr Tara Quinn-Cirillo is a Counselling Psychologist with over 20 years clinical experience. She started her training in 1999 and went on to complete her Doctorate at The Tavistock Clinic. She is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and an HCPC Accredited Practitioner Psychologist.

She has run her own private practice in West Sussex for 7 years. Prior to this, she worked in the NHS for many years. Her background is in adult mental health and adults with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders

She specialises in helping people cope with adversity and increase emotional resilience. She has an interest in bringing the principles of psychology to communities and to help them work together to support their mental health.

She has been a guest lecturer at the University of Surrey, Salomon’s Institute for Applied Psychology and London Metropolitan University.

Her other current roles have include being a specialist advisor for the Care Quality Commission (CQC), a Clinical Reviewer for NHS England and a Psychological Reserve Volunteer for the British Red Cross. I was in the first cohort of these practitioners as a joint venture between the Red Cross and the British Psychological Society.

Tara does a significant amount of media work bringing the principles of psychology to everyday people and communities. This includes being a regular guest on many radio and TV stations including the BBC World Service. Much of this work has included advice on helping people cope throughout the pandemic.

As part of her philanthropic work, she run’s and contributes to a variety of online emotional support forums that have supported people during the pandemic. She is also the founder of community projects to help people to manage their emotional health which she finds extremely rewarding. Tara also collaborates with charities and organisations to use the principles of psychology to help people manage their emotional wellbeing.

Internal Representative for PPB - Pavlo Kanellakis

Bio to follow.


Membership of the Special Group is open to all members of the BPS and fees start from as little as £5.

Scroll down to find out more about the benefits of joining the SGIP.

There are two grades of Special groups membership:

If you are not yet part of the society you can apply for membership of the group at the same time as you apply to become a BPS member.

Apply to join the society

    Member Benefits of SGIP

    • The SGIP Discussion List - where IP’s share knowledge, tips, ideas, concerns, requests for specialist services with each other (monitored by the Committee to enable topics of concern are quickly addressed and if helpful-escalated to BPS staff, Board of Trustees etc). To join the Member Discussion List please login to your member portal and click on the Preferences tile, where you’ll be able to join the discussion list. 
    • A series of tailored webinars on IP specific topics such as Marketing, Social Media, Setting Up, Growing and Closing their IP business.
    • AND coming soon a one-hour Lunchtime webinar Series
    • Day long CPD workshops-heavily subsidised for SGIP members
    • Peer Practice Hubs-where IP’s can meet virtually- share experiences, personal observations about trends in IP and questions they’d  like to share with others “in the same boat”.
    • Representation of IP interests at Practice Board
    • Brief Updates on matter of specific interest to IP’s 

    Plans for SGIP 2022

    • E-Learning Packages for IP’s 
    • Develop Independent Practice toolkits for members to use including templates; how to guides; case-studies and sources of information and FAQ’s extracted from our webinars.
    • Provide updates on key changes which may impact Independent Practitioners or be of prime interest on the website and the members’ Newsletter.
    • Mentoring for members at key points in their careers
    • Attracting IP’s from more Divisions and Branches to ensure IP needs are visible and more likely to be met.