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Careers and professional development, Work and occupational

One to one... with Richard Freeman

Institute of Education, University of London

14 May 2012

One person who inspired you                                                           
My former Head of Department, the late Tony Stone, was an inspiration to me and many others – a former student mentioned his inspirational teaching in a previous issue. His ability to identify and focus on the essence of a topic and communicate it to others
was amazing.

One moment that changed the course of your career
Being asked to stand as Secretary General of the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA) in 2001. Like many British psychologists, my focus had been on America rather than the rest of Europe, but my eight years in EFPA has certainly broadened my horizons.

One reason for mutual recognition of qualifications across Europe
The European Commission is very keen on free movement of workers but even keener on harmonising qualifications for ‘professionals’ at the lowest level (i.e. bachelor’s degrees)!

One challenge you think psychology faces
Psychology is a broad church, but it is important to remember that ‘united we stand, divided we fall’.

One language I’d like to learn
Italian. The food and weather are usually great – and the people are wonderful company. I look forward to the European Congress of Psychology in Milan 2015.

One hope for the future of psychology
That more psychologists are prepared to get involved in public engagement to help the public understand what psychology is, and why it is important.

One problem that psychology should deal with
I hope in the future that psychologists can work together to offer even more support for the victims of conflict. For example, the BPS, led by Liz Campbell, worked together with EFPA and the Spanish Colegios Oficiales de Psicólogos on the EU-funded project ‘Psychological Assistance for Victims of Terrorism’. I hope that psychologists can offer support in conflict resolution both as professionals and as members of communities that are facing such problems.

One alternative career path you may have chosen
Something much better paid, but far less interesting.

One thing that organised psychology could do better
Commit to better engagement with each other. For example, fund students to attend each other’s conferences and ensure members know of news in science and practice from other associations.

One great thing that psychology has achieved
The study and practice of psychology have been of immense value simply in encouraging people to understand why people behave as they do. If we are to live together we need to understand each other.

One psychological superpower I’d like to have
Like many others, I have had people at parties say ‘Ooo, I bet you know what I’m thinking!’ and it would be good to be able to do so.

One final thought
It’s important to have focus on your own work, but also to remain open to what other areas have to offer.