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Practice Board awards

The winners of this year’s British Psychological Society Practice Board awards have been announced, including a pioneer of parenting programmes, an expert in perinatal psychology and birth trauma and a team using cards for change. Ella Rhodes reports.

24 August 2020

The winner of this year’s Lifetime Achievement in Psychology is Professor Judy Hutchings (Bangor University), an NHS consultant clinical child psychologist for many years who now works as Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Early Intervention (CEBEI). The CEBEI was launched in 2011 and develops and assesses interventions for parents, children and teachers, particularly those based on social learning theory and which support children with behavioural management difficulties and social difficulties.

Hutchings said she was more grateful than proud to receive the award… 'grateful that my career in the NHS and the University has allowed me to work with some inspiring parents often struggling against the odds to do the best for their children. In recent years I have had the opportunity to work with the WHO, UNICEF and colleagues from Oxford and Cape Town universities to support the dissemination of what we have learned over the last 40+ years as affordable programmes for low- and middle-income countries. I am also working on the development of accessible web-based resources for parents and teachers, particularly relevant during, and subsequent to, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.’ 

Head of Psychology and Professor of Psychology as Applied to Medicine, Rona Moss-Morris (King’s College London), has received the Distinguished Contribution to Practice Award. An expert on the psychological factors that affect how people experience physical symptoms and adjust to long-term conditions, Moss-Morris led the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme for long-term physical health conditions, which was pioneering in the way it incorporated health psychology.

She said she was truly delighted and honoured to receive the award. ‘I am very passionate about the need for more integrated care for people with long term conditions. Health psychology has much to offer here as does a multidisciplinary approach. It has been a privilege to work alongside both health and clinical psychologists, and medical colleagues, to create national evidence-based guidelines and training in this area. Still lots of work to be done, but we are definitely moving in the right direction.’

The board also made two Innovation in Practice awards, one to Dr Emma Svanberg – a Clinical Psychologist who has been working to raise awareness of perinatal mental health problems, with a particular focus on birth trauma. She co-founded the organisation Make Birth Better with Dr Rebecca Moore where they created a model of birth trauma as a basis for training, which they have shared on the organisation’s website.

Svanberg also runs two Instagram accounts @mumologist and @birthbetter, as well as a Facebook parenting group called The Village, and said that she has become aware of how powerful it is to normalise experiences for new parents, how isolating new parenthood is and the large number of parents who do not seek support. ‘When I received the news of the Innovation Award, we were just about to head into lockdown. Since then, The Village Facebook group – which started as a local parenting community – has become an incredible source of support to over 2,000 people with daily videos from clinical psychologists, mindfulness teachers and a play therapist and has been described as 'life changing'. In a time when we can feel so disconnected from each other, I do believe that we can create safe spaces online, bringing people together to make high quality, evidence based guidance easily accessible to everyone.’

Professor Lucie Byrne-Davis (University of Manchester) along with Professor Jo Hart (University of Manchester) and senior lecturer in Health Psychology Eleanor Bull (Manchester Metropolitan University), received the second Innovation in Practice Award for their Cards for Change project, which uses playing cards to help people learn about and use behaviour change techniques. Byrne-Davis said the project was a collaborative effort between health psychologists and health professional educators. ‘We feel that innovations often develop when we work openly with others. We are also delighted because the award highlights work of translating psychological methods to make them useful for others. This is work that is so crucial but often not a topic of discussion or research. 

‘In terms of the future, we have just received our second edition of Cards for Change. These were commissioned by Public Health Wales and are a smoking cessation version. In these cards, we worked with the smoking counsellors of "Help Me Quit" in Wales to create suggestions for using smoking specific behaviour change techniques in conversations with clients. The smoking counsellors will use the cards to train others in using behaviour change techniques in smoking cessation conversations and they’re available in English and Welsh.’