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Two pioneers share BPS award for distinguished contribution

13 March 2019

Pioneers in health psychology training and existential therapy are the recipients of this year’s British Psychological Society Award for Distinguished Contribution to Practice.

Forerunners in their respective fields, Dr Vivien Swanson and Professor Ernesto Spinelli have demonstrated dedication and tenacity in their work to develop unique psychology training programmes.

Dr Swanson is credited with delivering the only nationally-funded practitioner health psychology training programme in the world (NHS Education for Scotland). She was also instrumental in establishing health psychology undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Scotland and securing funding for trainees. 

Her work and influence within NHS Scotland has increased the number of qualified health psychologists working on key social issues.  

An internationally-recognised leader in existential therapy and coaching psychology, Professor Ernesto Spinelli developed and taught the first psychology undergraduate and PhD programmes to focus on counselling and psychotherapy research.  He has contributed to a growing interest in, and professional appreciation of, existential therapeutic techniques. 

Professor Spinelli publications and textbooks are standard reading for many psychotherapy and coaching training programmes around the world. His latest book, Practising Existential Therapy: The Relational World, 2nd edition (2015), was identified as the most influential contemporary text on existential therapeutic practice.

Sarb Bajwa, chief executive of the BPS, said:

“My congratulations to both winners, whose expertise demonstrates the diversity of psychology.  Their hard work raising the profile of their field of psychology thoroughly deserves this recognition.”

The society’s Professional Practice Board Award for Distinguished Contributions to Practice is an annual award recognising work that have made an outstanding and lasting contribution to a particular area, for the benefit of people and organisations.


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