psychologist february 2021
What are the barriers to our profession, and how can we remove them? The winners in our latest Voices In Psychology programme, identifying and nurturing new writing talent
psychologist february 2021
f b 2021
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What are the barriers to our profession, and how can we remove them? The winners in our latest Voices In Psychology programme, identifying and nurturing new writing talent
The Psychologist is the magazine of The British Psychological Society
Twitter: @psychmag Download our iOS/Android apps advertising Reach 50,000+ psychologists at very reasonable rates. CPL, 1 Cambridge Technopark Newmarket Road Cambridge CB5 8PB contact Krishan Parmar 01223 378051 firstname.lastname@example.org january 2021 issue 57,140 dispatched cover Nick Ellwood http://www.nickellwood.co.uk/ environment Printed by Warners Midlands plc on 100 per cent recycled paper. Please re-use and recycle. Mailing bag is potato starch-based and fully compostable. issn 0952-8229 (print) 2398-1598 (online)
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It provides a forum for communication, discussion and controversy among all members of the Society, and aims to fulﬁl the main object of the Royal Charter, ‘to promote the advancement and diffusion of a knowledge of psychology pure and applied’
The Psychologist needs you! We rely on your submissions throughout the publication, and in return we help you to get your message across to a large and diverse audience. For details of all the available options, plus our policies and what to do if you feel these have not been followed, see www.thepsychologist.org.uk/contribute The main message, though, is simply to engage with us. Contact the editor Dr Jon Sutton on firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet us on @psychmag.
Managing Editor Jon Sutton Deputy Editor Annie Brookman-Byrne Production Mike Thompson Journalist Ella Rhodes Editorial Assistant Debbie Gordon Research Digest Matthew Warren (Editor), Emily Reynolds, Emma Young
Associate Editors Articles Paul Curran, Harriet Gross, Michelle Hunter, Rebecca Knibb, Adrian Needs, Paul Redford, Sophie Scott, Mark Wetherell, Jill Wilkinson History of Psychology Alison Torn Culture Kate Johnstone, Chrissie Fitch Books Emily Hutchinson Voices in Psychology Madeleine Pownall Psychologist and Digest Editorial Advisory Committee Richard Stephens (Chair), Emma Beard, Harriet Gross, Kimberley Hill, Sue Holttum, Deborah Husbands, Peter Olusoga, Miles Thomas, Layne Whittaker
psychologist february 2021
Letters Veganism; launch of new Society fund; and more
News Careers, awards, Covid and much more
Digest Negotiate better; and more
Words which can catch a wolf Talia Gilbey on language and technology in the hunt for online groomers
What are the barriers to our profession, and how can we remove them? Our latest ‘Voices In Psychology’ winners
‘We should, as a profession, be siding with the dispossessed’ We meet Rachel Tribe
Jobs in psychology
Valuing early career psychologists Daniel Yon offers concrete suggestions
Books Psychoeducation, teaching…
Culture Dance, art, ﬁlms and more…
Looking back Asude Ucal revisits harmonic healing houses of Turkey
One on one Tendayi Viki
Changing ideologies and the role of the educational psychologist Lorna Selfe on a career spent swimming against the tide of segregation AWEsome work Anna Sutton on promoting Authenticity to enhance Well-being and Engagement at work
Undoubtedly the most rewarding aspect of having been editor of The Psychologist for 20 years is that I hear from lots of increasingly well-established, award winning psychologists who took their early steps in disseminating their work or views with us. We have always offered such opportunities – my own ﬁrst piece was for the student writer competition in February 1997! – but it has become increasingly important, as our output has increased in print and online, that we identify and nurture new writing talent. Our Voices In Psychology programme is our more formalised, regular attempt to do that. This month we publish a selection of responses to the question ‘What are the barriers to our profession, and how can we remove them?’ (p.30). Congratulations to Joanna Atkinson, Nicolò Zarotti, Charlotte Leedale, Fiona Gilton and all our ‘runners up’ for covering such a range of aspects in an engaging style. Do send feedback; we appreciate the connection as we work remotely. Dr Jon Sutton Managing Editor @psychmag
the psychologist february 2021 letters
Call for Nominations President 2022-23 The President is the visible ďŹ gurehead of the Society and Chair of the Board of Trustees. We are seeking nominations of Members of the Society to stand for election to the role of President in the Presidential year 2022-23. The successful candidate will be President-Elect in 2021-22 and Vice-President in 2023-24. Descriptions of the role and responsibilities, together with requirements and time commitments, are available on request. Please contact Kerry Wood, email@example.com Procedure The Board of Trustees has the responsibility to ensure that there is at least one candidate for this position. Those wishing to propose candidates are invited to contact the Honorary General Secretary, Dr Carole Allan (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) for guidance and President, Hazel McLaughlin (e-mail: email@example.com) Deadline for nominations is 25 February 2021. Nominations can be made via the link: https://www.mi-nomination.com/bps If more than one candidate is nominated, the election will be decided by a ballot of the Membership and the result announced at the AGM at the end of June 2021. 08
‘Careers are squiggly’ Ella Rhodes, Jon Sutton and Annie Brookman-Byrne report from the British Psychological Society’s Careers in Psychology online event
Dr Gemima Fitzgerald
Associate Professor Dr Mustafa Sarkar 10
ritish Psychological Society President Dr Hazel McLaughlin opened the day by urging those at the start of their psychology journeys to think about their own unique potential and how to achieve it. ‘Carpe diem, seize the day, go for your future – because no one else will be able to do that but you.’ Clinical Psychologist Dr Gemima Fitzgerald had an extremely tricky start in life – of the 10 potential Adverse Childhood Experiences she was exposed to eight. ‘I certainly had a lot of self-esteem issues, and a lot of anxiety... I’m now in my 40s and now I don’t regret any of those and I don’t say that lightly, I would never have chosen it, but boy oh boy I’ve learned some stuff along the way.’ Fitzgerald was ﬁrst drawn to clinical psychology as a career at the age of 16 thanks to her own experience working with a psychologist, however life took her in a different direction. She got married, a relationship which soon became abusive, and had children. After 16 years she left the marriage and was reminded of her dream to become a psychologist. As a single parent in her mid-30s, with no qualiﬁcations, money, home or car, she said the odds were stacked against her, but she decided to try regardless. After a psychology BSc at the University of Sussex, and experiencing numerous knockbacks along the way, Fitzgerald got a place on a Clinical Psychology doctorate course at the age of 39. Although she had no experience as an assistant psychologist, one of the more common roles to hold before doctoral training, she had worked in numerous settings which she could draw on. She emphasised that in applying for doctorate courses it was useful to make
a narrative out of previous work and life experience to demonstrate why and how this was relevant to an eventual career in clinical psychology. ‘You need very good reﬂection skills as a psychologist so being able to reﬂect on what you’ve done and evidencing that is really, really important. Whatever life experience you’ve had – good, bad, ugly, failures, mistakes – nothing is ever wasted, no pain is ever wasted, not if you are learning from it.’ Associate Professor Dr Mustafa Sarkar (Nottingham Trent University) also had an unconventional journey into sport and performance psychology. Initially hoping to study law Sarkar was unsuccessful in getting a place at law school and was forced to take a gap year, during which time he worked on a placement with Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) as a tax consultant. Later PwC offered Sarkar a job and he faced a dilemma – take the PwC job with an excellent salary or pursue a career in sport, exercise and performance psychology. He chose the latter. Sarkar completed an undergraduate degree in sport and exercise science followed by a psychology conversion diploma, master’s in sport and exercise psychology, and later a PhD. Since that time Sarkar has worked as a research fellow, senior lecturer and associate professor. He explained what it is truly like to work as an academic – teaching, supervising PhD students, applying for funding and carrying out his own research in areas including team and organisational resilience and growth after adversity. Given that research background, Sarkar shared some excellent lessons for those embarking on a journey into a psychology career. He said we should be aware that behind individual stories of success there are many untold stories of challenge that have helped people reach that
the psychologist february 2021 news point. ‘Take the opportunity to learn and reﬂect on the speed bumps that you encounter, be proactive in your personal and professional development – seeking out opportunities and saying yes more than you say no, be sensitive to different types of motivation – recognising are you extrinsically motivated or are you intrinsically motivated, thinking about decisions as choices rather than sacriﬁces, focusing on what you can control and processes, rather than outcomes.’
Open things up Questions came thick and fast for the panel before lunch. Society President Hazel McLaughlin emphasised that aspiring psychologists should try to take the ‘broader view’, ﬁnding out more about what people are doing on a day-to-day basis. ‘Open things up rather than closing them down,’ she advised, reminding the audience that many people change tack mid-career. Eduard Margarit, current Chair of the BPS Student Committee, echoed the advice not to plump for a particular path too early. Claire Tilley, Head of Workforce Education, Training and Standards at the BPS, pointed to the ‘day in the life’ videos on the BPS YouTube channel as a good intro, and noted that there are ‘psychologically informed’ roles you can go into with a Psychology education. The society is increasingly trying to look at competencies rather than qualiﬁcations, she said. Asked how best to stand out in an application process, Forbes Earl Clinical Associate Psychologist of Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, advised ensuring a sense of yourself comes through, which led to an interesting question about how personal is too personal. Claire Tilley felt it’s about ‘being reﬂective but clearly linking that to the point you’re trying to make’. Dan O’Hare, an educational psychologist working for Gloucestershire local authority, talked about the importance of adapting communication skills to different levels. ‘9:30-10, I might be meeting a six-year-old, talking about Frozen 2; 11, talking with a school governor.’ It’s about listening, meet people where they are, recognise assumptions and bring them to the discussion. Next, Dr Chris Street (Reader in Cognitive Psychology, University of Huddersﬁeld) described his journey out of ‘the Valleys’, with an attendance rate at school he admitted was ‘not very high’. Told he would not be ‘capable’ of doing science, and that he should work in a shop, Street said: ‘I didn’t know that I wanted to do Psychology. I was just chatting with a friend about memory, when I was 17. Can you force yourself to forget things? Understanding how things function is what drives me today.’ Volunteering in a vision and perception lab at the University of Dundee, he got interested in how the presence of other people affects our perception of the world. Landing a highly competitive Research Assistant role at University College London, he encountered an undergrad student who wanted to work for MI6. ‘This interest, in deception, was entirely new to me and my supervisor. And it seemed that some very basic questions
in cognition and decision making were not being asked in lie detection.’ This work developed into a PhD, becoming a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia, and then on to lecturing at Huddersﬁeld. Street’s ‘Spinozan mind’ approach to lie detection considers whether the fact that accuracy is pretty low and training doesn’t help much is an indication of a problem, or actually smart decision making. ‘We rely on past experience to ﬁll in gaps. Lying is discouraged, and people usually tell the truth. People who lie are not producing any cues, or if they are they are very weak. We could just guess randomly whether they’re telling the truth, but why do that when you have context-general info?’ Street has now worked with Bob’s Business to develop evidence-based cyber security training (part-funded by Innovate UK working with Knowledge Transfer Network); and on an ESRC project exploring a relatively new scam technique called ‘smishing’. ‘Text messages piggyback off a very old system,’ he warned, ‘so it’s easy to spoof them’. Ending with a general picture of life in academia, Street emphasised the importance of self-motivation: ‘you get to set your own research agenda, there’s generally no boss above you telling you “you need to do this project”.’ Don’t rush through a PhD – it can be useful to have time to build up publications. Expect failure and uncertainty he warned, as you are working ‘at the edge of knowledge’. A thick skin is ‘helpful but not essential’. It’s competitive, ‘but anything worth doing will be – don’t let it put you off!’
Dr Chris Street
That ﬁre in your belly Two psychologists shared their fascinating journeys that started in the emergency services and led to applied psychological research. Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, now Chief Fire Ofﬁcer, completed her PhD while working full time in the ﬁre service, which she had joined at 18. Cohen-Hatton is not a stereotypical ﬁreﬁghter. She has had to combat stereotypes throughout her career, and became comfortable being different. Cohen-Hatton now thinks that being different can be freeing, it can allow you to deﬁne new boundaries and empower you. Cohen-Hatton is the most senior rank in the ﬁre service and has led the response to terror attacks and signiﬁcant tragic ﬁres. In her job, ‘our every day is always someone else’s worst day’, and Cohen-Hatton wanted to make ﬁreﬁghters better and safer. Taking research from the lab to the ﬁeld, Cohen-Hatton gathered data on how ﬁreﬁghters make decisions in real incidents. Ultimately this informed new policies with techniques to help Commanders make decisions. These policies are now used as standard nationally, and within other emergency services. Cohen-Hatton describes this practical applied research as ‘pracademic’, and she said it was really special to have achieved her goal and contributed to science. Professor Carol Dando, forensic psychologist at the University of Westminster, described her journey ‘from the street to the lab’. Dando became a police ofﬁcer at 19, which is when her interest in psychology began, although she didn’t even know psychology existed then.
Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton
Professor Carol Dando
Interviewing ‘is a bread and butter activity for every police ofﬁcer’, and Dando discovered that it was one of the most demanding and complex social interactions – ‘all aspects of psychology impact on an interview’. When interviewing offenders, victims, and witnesses to child sexual exploitation and abuse Dando wondered in particular why children couldn’t remember incidents in much detail. Unable to continue to work on a part time basis with two children, Dando got a place on an undergraduate degree in psychology. ‘As soon as I stepped into the world of psychology it all just fell into place.’ All the questions Dando had asked herself about memory as an interviewing police ofﬁcer made sense, leading to a PhD in episodic memory and social cognition. In postdoctoral research with Professor Ray Bull, Dando developed techniques and taught police ofﬁcers to optimise the chances of detecting when a suspected offender is being deceptive. Now, Dando works with organisations such as the Transportation Security Administration in the US to improve their aviation screening, as an expert witness on
interviews with witnesses and victims, and as a consultant such as on the TV drama Deadwater Fell (yes, she got to work with David Tennant!). Cohen-Hatton and Dando both shared advice based on their experiences. Cohen-Hatton said that thinking about your goal can help to drive you – ‘make sure you have that ﬁre in your belly’. Doing a PhD is hard, but Cohen-Hatton said you will discover something new. ‘With your own mind you can nudge forward the knowledge of humankind.’ One of Dando’s key tips was to ﬁnd mentors who challenge and encourage you. ‘Reach out and ﬁnd a couple of people that you really trust.’ Dando also suggested looking at the media to see what the general public are concerned about because that’s what funders and the government will also be concerned about. We may crave certainty about our future careers, but in Cohen-Hatton’s words, ‘careers are squiggly – there is no such thing as a straight line career’. Wrapping up, McLaughlin said ‘it’s about ﬁnding your own way, ﬁnding the journey that works for you’.
Keeping up with the psychology of the pandemic
Robert Bor, psychologist in critical care. thepsychologist. bps.org.uk/ gruellingimmenselyrewarding
‘Nobody is a superhero’… Kathryn LloydWilliams reﬂects on the impact of Covid-19 for team dynamics and more in healthcare settings. thepsychologist. bps.org. uk/nobodysuperhero
With the UK living in lockdown the British Psychological Society and The Psychologist are continuing to produce a wealth of Covid-related resources, stories and psychological perspectives online. We continue to add to our online collection of coronavirus perspectives at tinyurl. com/PsychmagCorona – articles stretching back to March consider the public response to the virus, the science of the government’s approach, the virus itself, lockdown living and much more. Recently we heard from clinical psychologist Dr Sobia Khan, based on the Royal Stoke University Hospital’s critical care unit, who has been supporting Covid patients to recover mentally as well as physically. In a fascinating article psychologists and other professionals from the London Youth Justice CAMHS forum shared what they had heard from the youth justice population about the impact of Covid-19. Dr Seonaid Anderson, Chartered Psychologist and freelance neurodiversity consultant, also had an interesting chat with Becky Simpson about being a therapist with Tourette’s syndrome during Covid-19. And Jose Catalan and Damien Ridge look to HIV for pathways out of the Covid-19 pandemic. In December, we reported on a session of the House of Lords
Covid-19 Select Committee which asked psychologists and psychiatrists their thoughts on the future of technology use, its impact on our mental health and the delivery of mental health services online. The gathered witnesses included Professor of Clinical Psychology Kate Cavanagh (University of Sussex), and Dr Linda Kaye Chair of the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) Cyberpsychology section. At the end of that report, we called for views from psychologists about the impact of Covid on access to psychological services, and whether such access has become more unequal for some during the pandemic. If you have any insight please email thepsychologist@ bps.org.uk. On a related note, The Guardian recently published an article [tinyurl.com/y5ps6k97] on a supposed increase on antidepressant prescribing rates during the pandemic – an assertion which drew criticism from some psychologists. Professor Jonathan Roiser said on Twitter that the article’s claims were ‘hyperbolic and unhelpful’. Dr Vaughan Bell pointed out that data from Open Prescribing showed that the highest three-month total of antidepressant prescribing in England was before the pandemic in January to March 2020. He added
that the ‘drop in therapy referrals is concerning regardless though’, and that ‘it’s currently difﬁcult to disentangle whether this is for pragmatic reasons (making follow-up appointments further in the future, reducing visits) or for clinical reasons (higher dosage, longer treatment).’ The BPS and its Covid-19 Coordinating Group are still busy producing documents to support professionals and the public during the pandemic – including a leaﬂet on romantic and intimate relationships during continuing lockdowns. After a rapid review of evidence of how people may respond to public health messaging the BPS has also released a guide to delivering effective public health campaigns during the pandemic; this covers ways to reach those people who do not think they are at risk, communicating with diverse communities, increasing trust, and clear consistent messaging. Many of the coordinating group’s resources from early 2020 are also still useful – they include resources for coping with bereavement, talking to children about coronavirus, and advice for psychological professionals on how to adapt to using online services. All of these resources can be found via www.bps.org.uk/ coronavirus-resources. ER
the psychologist february 2021 news
Psychophysics at home Social distancing meets social psychology in Beth Richards’ project for her British Psychological Society Undergraduate Research Assistantship Award. https://thepsychologist.bps.org. uk/psychophysics-home Deadline for the next round of the scheme is March – see www.bps.org.uk/aboutus/awards-and-grants/societygrants/undergraduate-researchassistantship-scheme
Hundred years of ‘Queen of Tests’ 2021 marks the centenary of the publication of Hermann Rorschach’s text, Psychodiagnostics, a 174page monograph which discussed his studies and included 10 cards which became the foundation of his famous test. Sadly, Rorschach died prematurely the following year of a burst appendix, but the ‘Queen of Tests’ has lived on, arousing interest and controversy along the way. On our website, The Executive
Board of the British Rorschach Society – Kari Carstairs, Justine McCarthy Woods, Marc Desautels and Kevin Lambe – trace the history of the test in this country and provide an outline of its use today. See https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/ rorschach-test-100 The British Rorschach Society – logo pictured – will hold their ‘Annual Case Presentation’ on Wednesday 17 February, 4pm to 6pm, to be held
News online ‘I don’t think I really had the language to say what was happening’… Senior Researcher at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Julienne Zammit, on a new report over abuse in healthcare contexts. https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/i-dont-think-i-really-had-language-saywhat-was-happening For much more of the latest peer-reviewed research, digested, see www.bps.org.uk/digest Do you have a potential news story? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @psychmag.
online. One case will be presented from the membership which will provide an opportunity to discuss how the Rorschach data contributes to the formulation and understanding of the examinee’s personality functioning in the light of the referral question. The event is free for all members of the British Rorschach Society. Nonmembers are welcome and will be asked to pay £20 per person. Any questions and for registration, contact Dr Carstairs on kari@carstairspsych. co.uk or 02083251697.
Conducting quality research Deputy Editor Annie Brookman-Byrne reports from the online Psychology Research Day The Psychology Research Day, hosted by the BPS and Senate House Library, is an opportunity for graduates and early career psychologists to explore essential resources. At 2020’s online event, experts shared insights and advice on all aspects of conducting research, from literature reviews and methods to blogging and impact.
Diverse methodologies Three researchers shared some challenges and opportunities in their work. A challenge that Dr Aleksandra Herbec faces in her applied research in digital health is the digital divide – disadvantaged groups who might beneﬁt from interventions can be difﬁcult to reach because they lack access to digital technologies. This research can also have low engagement and high attrition, making it difﬁcult to assess impact. But this is a rich area for future research, with many ongoing questions that have the potential to improve health: Who beneﬁts, when and why? How should digital health programmes be scheduled and at what dose? How to engage the non-engaged? There are myths about qualitative research – that it’s ﬂuffy, easy and quick – but Dr Laura Kilby explained that qualitative research has to stand up to scrutiny like any research. ‘Quality is everything.’ A qualitative approach can provide an in depth understanding of an issue, and may be for you if you want to explore the ‘noise’, empower participants by giving them a voice, or have ecological validity in your research. Focusing on quantitative methods, Dr Gillian Shorter said that it is important to ‘do your science well’, and not rush to publish. Uncertainty in research should be embraced, Shorter said, and you shouldn’t worry if things don’t turn out how you hoped. Shorter also encouraged researchers to work together and support each other – ‘no psychologist is an island’.
Before and after data collection
Before you start conducting your research, you need to make sure it’s built on solid foundations, and this is where the literature review comes in. Dr Geoff Walton recommended getting to know your subject librarian who will know about the research landscape. Familiarise yourself with the available databases, e-journals and e-books, like PsychInfo, PsycArticles, PsycBooks, Web of Science and Wiley Online Library. Identify keywords, Walton said, and use those with the right Boolean operators (like AND, OR, NOT, SAME) to ﬁnd the right articles for you. Once you’ve gathered and analysed your data, you’ll want to share your outputs. This doesn’t just mean a journal article, but as Jez Cope described, encompasses data (where it can be anonymised), methodology and analysis code. Making your research open not only increases accessibility for other researchers, but can
open up new opportunities. Cope said it can raise your proﬁle and inﬂuence, attract collaborators and gain you more citations.
Communicating your research The traditional model of communicating research is through publications, but David White said that there has been a shift over the last 15 years towards more online communication and shorter formats like blogs. Blogging is becoming a more authentic mode of communicating research, White said, and there’s no doubt blogs are read more than journal articles which can be very rewarding. White said you should consider who you want to become and which numbers matter to you – do you want to ensure your academic credentials through traditional publishing, or do you want to communicate ideas widely and have impact through online communication? The editor of our Research Digest, Dr Matthew Warren, echoed White’s view that blogging can be rewarding – you can write a piece and then get it online within minutes, rather than the usual long waits for traditional publishing. Scientists have a duty to communicate with the public, Warren said, as much research is taxpayer funded. Warren said to drop the scientiﬁc jargon and suggested ﬁnding an editor and being open to their feedback and edits. If you have a friend who also blogs, you could edit each other’s work. If not, be your own editor by stepping away from your piece after the ﬁrst draft, and coming back to it after a break. As Warren said, nobody writes a perfect ﬁrst draft, so that second set of eyes or re-reading after a break can help you share your message clearly.
Impact through research Professor Daryl O’Connor’s keynote talk highlighted the integral role that psychological science has in helping societies recover from the pandemic. The BPS Covid-19 research priorities group developed a position paper to set out seven psychology research priorities to support recovery from Covid-19: mental health, behaviour change and adherence, work, education, children and families, physical health and the brain, and social cohesion and connectedness. O’Connor said that inequality is of central importance to all of those priorities – psychological scientists need to consider ethnicity, socioeconomic status, health, age, sex, social exclusion and social support, and the intersections of these factors. To achieve these goals, O’Connor said there is a need for coordinated, large scale data collection and the establishment of research consortia. Innovative research methodologies need to be developed, and researchers must maintain high quality, open and rigorous research and ethical standards. O’Connor’s talk showed the wideranging impact that psychology research can have, and the importance of having high standards in that research.
the psychologist february 2021 news
CREST research funding
Doing your research well The ‘Ask an Expert’ sessions emphasised how much help is out there for early career researchers. Librarians are on hand to assist with the beginning stages of your research and press ofﬁcers can help you to communicate your ﬁndings. Mura Ghosh hosted a virtual tour of Senate House Library, which is free for BPS members to join, and offers access to journals, e-books, psychological tests and conference proceedings. The BPS History of Psychology Centre holds archives documenting psychology’s development, described by Claire Jackson as ‘a window into the minds that created the psychological tools and concepts that we use today’. Research goes far beyond data collection, analysis, and the publication of a journal article – the processes before and after are important too. Collaboration and communication are key parts of the research process, and will help you to do you research well, consider your future work priorities and importantly, maximise your impact. As O’Connor said, ‘the science is only as good as the impact it can have’.
The Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST), which uses behavioural and social science to explore national security threats in the UK, has been awarded more than £5 million funding by the UK security services via the Economic and Social Research Council. Since its conception in 2015 the centre has brought together 140 researchers from UK universities and it is now funded until 2023. Research through the centre will initially focus on risk management, human sources and deterrence and disruption. It will be led by academics at the universities of Bath, Central Lancashire, Lancaster, Portsmouth, St Andrews and UCL and others after a tendering process. Director of CREST, Professor Paul Taylor (Lancaster University), said the new funding would allow the research community to break new ground and ensure the UK and its partners had world-leading behavioural and social science at their ﬁngertips. ‘The quality and importance of what the CREST community has delivered since 2015 is nothing short of remarkable.’ ER Read more on CREST via tinyurl.com/y2se3dm6
Psychologists honoured in new year list Six psychologists working in areas including critical incident decision making, autism and cognitive developmental neuroscience have been named in the 2021 New Year Honours list. Professor of Autism Research, Simon Baron-Cohen (University of Cambridge), has been honoured with a knighthood for his work with autistic people. Also Director of the university’s Autism Research Centre he is also a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, Academy of Medical Sciences and the British Academy. In a University of Cambridge news story Baron-Cohen said the honour had come as a complete surprise and announced the creation of a new charity, the Autism Centre of Excellence, to address gaps in statutory services for autistic people. ‘I accept it on behalf of the talented team of scientists at the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge, and on behalf of the Autism Research Trust, the charity that has supported us.’
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience Francesca Happé (King’s College London) will become a CBE for services to the study of autism. For 30 years Happé has examined both social understanding in neurotypical development and mentalising difﬁculties in autism. Some of her more recent work has explored mental health within the autism spectrum and underresearched subgroups including women and the elderly. Happé is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and British Academy, was formerly President of the International Society for Autism Research and was a former recipient of the British Psychological Society’s Spearman Medal and Royal Society’s Rosalind Frankland Award. Professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience and Director for the Centre for Neuroscience in Education, Usha Goswami (University of Cambridge), will become a CBE for services to educational research. In a University of Cambridge news story she said
she was deeply honoured to be named on the list: ‘I have been interested in children’s development since training as a primary school teacher and it is wonderful to have my research recognised in this way.’ Goswami studies cognitive development in children with a particular focus on language and literacy. Some of her research found that children with dyslexia hear language differently – leading to the development of new interventions to support children with the condition. Professor Lorraine Sherr (UCL) will become an MBE for services to vulnerable children and families. Sherr runs the UCL Health Psychology Unit and, as part of the UKRI’s Global Challenges Research Fund team, was part of an effort to share parenting tips during the Covid-19 pandemic. In a UCL statement Sherr said she was humbled by the award, as her work was a mosaic put together through the endeavours of many. ‘This will only spur me on to continue: when we obliterate vulnerability then
Professor Sir Simon Baron-Cohen
Professor Usha Goswami CBE
Susan Crocker MBE
my work will be done. Until then it is our collective responsibility to ensure that no family, no child and no-one who is destitute stands alone; there must always be a resource to provide for them and their children.’ Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Head of the Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in Hackney, Susan Crocker, will also become MBE for services to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The Hackney Gazette reports that Crocker set up a specialist CAMHS service from scratch for young people with profound disabilities and autism in Hackney 18 years ago.
She told the newspaper that she had always aimed to offer services to children with disabilities that were equal to those provided to children without disabilities. ‘I have stayed with the service for years and it’s only through working hard over a long time that you can achieve this. It is not something you can dip your toe in, it’s slow and steady, chipping away at getting funding and getting proposals through over years – but it’s the team that has enabled me to do it.’ Finally, Professor Laurence Alison (University of Liverpool), Director of the National Centre for the Study of Critical Incident Decision
Making will also become an MBE for his services to critical incident handling and to the NHS during Covid-19. As well as decision-making in critical incidents Alison has researched interrogation techniques, decision-making inertia, and has developed a tool for identifying highrisk sexual offenders which is used in more than 24 countries. Alison has also worked as a psychological debriefer following many critical incidents including the 7/7 bombings in London and Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004. He has also been principal investigator on grants from the Home Ofﬁce, Department of Defence and FBI. ER
‘How is a man supposed to be a man?’ Our editor Jon Sutton reports from a British Psychological Society Male Psychology Section mini-conference
Opening the British Psychological Society’s Male Psychology Section mini-conference, Chair Dr John Barry described the ﬁrst two years of the Section’s activity as ‘ﬁnding our feet’, and a realisation that there is ‘not an awful lot to be gained from focusing on negative aspects of masculinity’. Barry cited a ‘thirst for information that doesn’t put men down at every opportunity’, saying that the Section are looking to harness more positive ‘valuing of traditional masculinity’ for physical and mental health improvements. The ﬁrst speaker, sociologist Dr Rob Hadley, considered the ‘involuntarily childless men’ who make up 24 per cent of the UK adult population. ‘I go like an elephant through a china shop because I’m excited about it,’ he warned us: ‘My working class White Britishness comes through in all sorts of ways.’ That personal angle made for a fascinating talk, as Hadley conﬁded that he had been ‘very broody’ in his 30s, but didn’t become a Dad for ‘lots of reasons… economic, the people I met…’ He came to realise that societies are ‘pronatalist’: the childless are labelled as ‘other’, ‘stigmatised’ and made to feel / treated as ‘outsiders’. Feminist scholars of Assisted Reproductive Technology had highlighted the invisibility of men’s experiences. So Hadley interviewed 14 self-deﬁned Involuntary Childless men, aged 49-82, for his PhD in 2012. Some never married, some expected to be childless, some were so by choice, circumstance… the ‘arc of life’ has different pathways to childlessness, Hadley said. Older childless men are not disadvantaged when their health is good; but if health deteriorates, the informal care usually provided by family isn’t there and there can be an increased risk of loneliness, social isolation, depression and ill health. Formerly married childless men show poorer physical and mental health, sleeplessness,
excessive drinking and smoking, in comparison with men with partners. But the ‘interesting bit’, Hadley said, is what the men said. ‘It’s something I will never stop regretting. You know, it won’t go away.’ There were existential fears – ‘having kids is a way of producing a sense of continuity. Otherwise, death feels very ﬁnal’. All the men, according to Hadley, said ‘there’s something missing’ – emotionally, and structurally. ‘How is a man supposed to be a man?’, said Frank, aged 56. Masculine stereotypes embedded in service delivery add to exclusion, isolation and the stigmatisation of older and childless men – many referred to the threat of being seen as a paedophile when around children. Hadley mentioned a ‘disenfranchised grief’, where the losses are not viewed as socially valid and men are ‘doubly discounted… they are literally not counted’. Hadley’s own excellent poem closed his talk, referring to ‘the latent maelstrom of the none man… this line is incomplete’. Next, incoming Chair Dr Liz Bates (University of Cumbria) spoke about her research (much of it with Ben Hines) on fathers’ experiences of parental alienation. While recognising that women experience all these issues too, Bates highlighted how systems are more set up to work with men as perpetrators and women as victims, and some men ﬁnd this used against them in ‘legal and administrative aggression’. In this way, children may be used as a ‘tool of control’. False allegations are the ‘silver bullet’ within custody disputes, because of the impact they can have in the target parent getting access and contact. Bates and Hine did an anonymous qualitative online survey with 190 people, ﬁnding a number of ways that parental alienation was achieved, often within a wider context of abuse beginning within the relationship. There
the psychologist february 2021 news may be relocation, acting as gatekeeper (‘she continues to control everything, even though there is now a shared residence order…’), false allegations, breaching court orders, denigration (‘she refers to me as a ‘sperm donor’’) and using schools (‘not providing their new school with any of my details, I didn’t exist until I approached them’). Bates suggested that policies and legislation are urgently required that are ‘inclusive in both name and spirit’. ‘Men don’t see themselves in legislation, and that creates barriers for help-seeking.’ For example, Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 states ‘where there is an ongoing relationship then the offence of controlling or coercive behaviour should be considered’. This sidelines parental alienation after separation, despite the fact that as Bates says, ‘where you have children, there is always going to be a relationship’. The ﬁnal speaker, Dr Pat Fagan, is Director of MARRI (Marriage and Religion Research Institute) at The Catholic University of America. Inevitably, his views on ‘raising the good male’ can be viewed through that prism. He argued that ‘most of society remains invisible, because it goes on in the family’, that ‘the need to belong is critical’, and that ‘ﬁguring out the transcendental will always be a key part of society’. Fagan’s perspective ‘from embryo to altar’ sees ‘religion as a natural part of all human culture’. He draws on survey data, such as from the National Survey of Family Growth, to suggest that those couples who had fewer sexual partners before coupling are more likely to
have an intact relationship ﬁve years later, and that the highest ‘grade point average’ for children is in those intact families who worship weekly. Intriguingly, Fagan did say ‘sometimes the worst are those who worship just a little…’ As for women who were virgins when they coupled, and worship weekly… well, they hit the orgasm jackpot. From the chat function it seemed I wasn’t alone in ﬁnding the data and interpretations problematic… I’m sure others have dived into such studies, but my suspicion is that there are a lot of miserable couples ‘intact’ through a sense of religious duty, raising academically successful kids more through socioeconomic status than religion, wishing they had had more sexual partners before they settled down, and lying about their orgasm intensity. In the Q&A, Fagan did urge participants to ‘go where the data is’, even if that is uncomfortable. He also called for more rewards in academia for synthesis: ‘because that’s what’s needed’. The future role of the social sciences, he said, is ‘to transmit the knowledge of what works… What is the optimum adult male?’ You have to wonder if there is such a thing, but when Fagan advocates for practices such as ‘skin to skin contact between father and newborn in ﬁrst few days’, it’s easy to get behind that. If outdated practices, stereotypes and ‘discounting’ of male perspectives continue to harm men (and, by extension, those they form relationships with), then the Male Psychology Section has a clear role to play in changing that narrative.
Orchestra wins impact award City of London Sinfonia has won the Royal Philharmonic Society Impact Award for its work with young people with severe mental illness. The award, supported by the ABRSM – a music exams board – is given to organisations or initiatives which have a positive impact on those who might not usually experience classical music. The Sound Young Minds programme, run in partnership with Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School and funded by Youth Music, supports young people with severe mental health problems through making and sharing music. The programme has been running for four years and the City of London Sinfonia is running post-doctoral research, with the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, to establish clinical outcomes which can be measured from the programme. ER To ﬁnd out more about the orchestra and this programme see: tinyurl.com/ y4okwk7d
Much more online… A glimpse into the future of sport and exercise psychology Anna Martin reports from the British Psychological Society’s Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology Conference. https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/glimpse-future-sport-andexercise-psychology Building a fairer future Deputy Editor Annie Brookman-Byrne reports from Professor Sir Michael Marmot’s Transformation Seminar at the Anna Freud Centre. https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/building-fairer-future
The art of negotiation Emma Young digests the research
Find our Research Digest at www.bps. org.uk/ digest
ood negotiators are more likely to secure a pay rise, get the house or job they want, and keep the peace at home. No end of psychological studies have explored which attitudes, behaviours, and settings will help a negotiation go your way. Here, we take a look at some of the key ﬁndings:
The best way to prepare Editor: Dr Matthew Warren Writers: Emily Reynolds and Emma Young Reports, links and more on the Digest website
Plenty of studies have found that people in positions of low power tend to do worse in a negotiation than people with high power. A job interviewer or someone with a desirable house to sell falls into the high-power category. So if you’re about to walk into an interview, or start negotiating over a house or car, say, it would help if you ﬁrst engaged in a little self-afﬁrmation, according to a 2015 study on MBA students led by Sonia Kang. Before going into a meeting in which they were acting
as the would-be buyer of a biotech plant, some of the participants spent ﬁve minutes writing about their most important negotiating skill. In the subsequent negotiation, for this group, the typical high-power advantage of the ‘seller’ was signiﬁcantly reduced, and they secured lower sale prices. Rather than going into a negotiation with the view that a gain for one side is a loss for the other (a socalled ‘win-lose mindset’), it’s worth remembering that, depending on the terms of the deal, it could be win-win. That’s according to the authors of a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2019. The team found that people in a position of ﬁnancial vulnerability were more likely to hold the win-lose mindset by default, and less likely to capitalise on any opportunities for both sides to gain. ‘By holding this win-lose mindset, ﬁnancially disadvantaged people may continue to make poor deals,
the psychologist february 2021 digest perpetuating their situation,’ says Marko Pitesa at the Singapore Management University, who was involved in the research. But being aware of this mentality might help to stop it happening.
How to kick off the right way A work-related negotiation doesn’t have to happen in the ofﬁce, of course. In fact, a far better location would be a restaurant that serves food on sharing platters… This, at least, was the ‘shared plates, shared minds’ ﬁnding of a study published in Psychological Science in 2019. Pairs of participants who’d shared a single bowl of crisps and salsa went on to require, on average, nine rounds of negotiation to resolve a theoretical wage dispute, four rounds fewer than pairs who’d eaten the same snack from their own bowls. The shared eating promoted cooperation, the team thinks. ‘Basically, every meal that you’re eating alone is a missed opportunity to connect to someone,’ says co-author Ayelet Fishbach at the University of Chicago. ‘And every meal that involves food sharing fully utilizes the opportunity to create that social bond.’ A small alcoholic drink could be a helpful addition to the meal, too. When both participants in a bargaining game had one 350ml glass of beer, they became more collaborative, compared with those who’d drunk juice (tinyurl.com/digest170616). ‘In settings in which skepticism can lead to a breakdown in negotiation, alcohol consumption can make people drop their guard for each other’s actions, thus facilitating reaching an agreement,’ the team explains.
Machiavellianism – then yes, you’d be much better off negotiating in person, according to a study of 200 Canadian students. The team, led by Lisa Crossley, asked the participants to negotiate for concert tickets, as a buyer or seller, either face-to-face or via text on a computer. Those who ranked higher on the Dark Triad spectrum did better in face-to-face negotiations than negotiations via the computer, whereas those who’d ranked low in these traits did better online compared to in-person. In fact, when negotiating via computer, those who’d placed higher on the Dark Triad spectrum were signiﬁcantly less successful than the others. Whatever the ability of such people to charm, manipulate or intimidate others in person, they lose this edge when negotiating online, the team concludes. This also implies, of course that if you think your boss might have Dark Triad tendencies, it could be better to conduct a negotiation over a pay rise by email rather than face-to-face. When it comes to negotiations via text, there are a few other things to consider. For instance, a negotiating pair is more likely to reach mutually agreeable terms in an online discussion when they think of each other as being physically distant, rather than physically close. In this study (tinyurl.com/digest070111), two people did the negotiating. But what if you used an Artiﬁcial Intelligence agent to do your negotiating – a task that AI agents, or bots, are tipped to take over? This does affect our negotiation strategies, according to a recent study in the US (tinyurl.com/digest271020). Among other things, the team found that less experienced negotiators are more likely to be deceitful if they assign an AI agent to do their dirty work for them.
Will anger help me get what I want? The idea that you should add a bit of grrr to your negotiations has a long history. While some studies have found that it isn’t a good idea, others have suggested that pretending you are angry can be helpful, especially if the person you are negotiating with is in a pretty weak position. However, the effect of anger does depend on the cultural context: a 2010 study (see tinyurl. com/digest090710) found that while it could help in a negotiation with someone from a European background, it backﬁred in negotiations with someone from an East Asian background, where traditionally such behaviour is regarded as inappropriate. And the effect of getting angry on the negotiation will also depend at least partly on what you expect it to be. A 2017 study published by Maya Tamir and Yochanan Bigman in Emotion found that participants in a negotiation task who’d been led to believe that anger would be helpful and who felt more angry during the task did make more money. But for those who had not been guided in this way, whether they felt angry or not made no difference to how much money they made. As the team wrote: ‘At least in some cases, what we expect emotions to do may determine what they actually do.’
Is face-to-face negotiation always best? Well, that depends… If you have Dark Triad tendencies – if you’d score highly for narcissism, psychopathy or
What about negotiating at home? If you don’t like a job offer, or a bid for your house, you don’t have to take it. But if you’re in a relationship, and want to stay in it, you will have to ﬁnd ways to negotiate your way through all kinds of disagreements, from the minor – such as plans for the weekend – to the major (whether to take a job in another country, say). In all these situations, it would be worth bearing in mind the results of a recent analysis of data on more than 32,000 people from nine different countries: if you feel that you would in theory be willing to make a sacriﬁce for your partner, there are beneﬁts for you both (tinyurl.com/digest250820). However, when one person actually makes a sacriﬁce (not just says that they would), it’s a different story. The data suggests that in these situations, the person actually making a sacriﬁce tends to feel the burden of it. Gaining a major concession from your partner could clearly, then, end up being a case not merely of win-lose, but lose-lose. So what if you’ve just agreed to make a signiﬁcant sacriﬁce for your partner, or you’re weighing one up? The researchers have some advice: ‘Being willing to sacriﬁce may be valuable for individuals and couples but when people actually perform this behaviour, they maximise their wellbeing when they focus on the gains rather than the losses.’
After the 2016 US election, articles described a so-called ‘Trump depression’ affecting liberal Americans. But a new study looking at self-reported affect, social media posts, and antidepressant consumption suggests that any change in mood at this time wasn’t an enduring or even clinically signiﬁcant experience. Reports of ‘Trump depression’ seem rather to reﬂect an overgeneralisation of the terminology of mental illness. (Journal of Experimental Psychology).
Making injections feel less painful If you’re preparing to receive a vaccine, you’ll be interested in the results of a new study that investigates whether it’s better to smile or grimace your way through the pain of an injection. The idea that manipulating our facial expressions can affect our emotions has a long and storied history. There are many advocates of this ‘facial feedback hypothesis’, and many critics, too. Indeed, one of the classic ﬁndings in the ﬁeld – that people ﬁnd cartoons funnier if they hold a pen between their teeth, inducing a smile – recently failed to replicate. This mixed research background was well known Getty Images
to Sarah D. Pressman and Amanda M. Acevedo at the University of California, Irvine, who led the new work, published in Emotion. The team randomised 231 student participants to hold either a neutral expression, a regular smile (which involves the cheek muscles), a Duchenne smile (which also recruits muscles by the eyes, resulting in creasing around the eyes) or a grimace (which recruits both these sets of muscles, plus those which allow us to wrinkle our brows). To induce these expressions, the participants (who thought they were taking part in an investigation of multitasking) were given chopsticks to hold in one of four positions between their teeth, and asked to imitate an example photo. Each participant then held their assigned facial position while they received an injection of saline solution into the upper arm, designed to mimic a ﬂu jab. Their heart rates and skin conductance were measured throughout, as objective markers of their stress levels, and they also reported on levels of pain (anticipated and then actual) and other emotions, such as being jittery or relaxed. The researchers found some interesting differences between the groups. The Duchenne smiling and grimacing groups gave lower pain ratings than the neutral group while waiting for the injection, during the injection, and immediately after it. The regular smiling group fell somewhere in between. Notably, the Duchenne group reported 40 per cent less pain during the needle insertion than the neutral controls, and the grimace group reported 39 per cent less pain. These were clinically meaningful results, the team stresses, equivalent to pain being ‘very much improved’. In addition, the Duchenne group had the
the psychologist february 2021 digest Getty Images
Digest digested… Why is our memory so much better for sung melodies than instrumental ones? One hypothesis is that listening to a voice singing a melody leads us to perform internal ‘subvocal’ speech, and this boosts our memory. But a study has thrown cold water on this theory, ﬁnding that interfering with this silent rehearsal does nothing to impair memory for vocal melodies. Instead, humans may simply be more attuned to voices than other sounds. (Cognition). Mediation may help couples resolve conﬂicts better than one-on-one discussion. That’s according to a study in which romantic partners hashed out disagreements either with the aid of a neutral third party, or in front of a silent observer. Those in the mediation group were more likely to reach an agreement and also felt closer to their partners, compared to participants in the other group. (Humanities and Social Sciences Communication).
lowest heart rates during the study, while the grimacing group reported feeling the lowest levels of stress. Smiling and grimacing recruit some of the same key facial muscles, and both are seen in people undergoing negative experiences, including pain. The facial feedback hypothesis would hold that both these facial conﬁgurations act to regulate feelings of pain and stress. In the case of Duchenne smiling, it might be that we associate this expression with feeling positive emotions, and this reduces perceived pain. With grimacing, it’s possible, the team suggests, that intense activation of muscles around the eye and forehead has a more direct effect on pain and/or levels of physiological arousal, and stress, perhaps via stimulation of the trigeminal nerve in the face. But the nature of this mechanism, if it exists, is certainly not clear. In relation to their grimacing ﬁndings, the team writes: ‘To our knowledge, this is the ﬁrst experimental test showing that this natural response to pain is helpful in improving the subjective pain experience.’ However, they also add: ‘Whether we grimace during pain because it is similar to smiling or whether we smile during stress because it is like a grimace warrants further investigation and replication.’ This is a controversial ﬁeld of research. And there’s plenty more that needs to be done to understand the effects reported in this study. However, the pain-reducing effects of either Duchenne smiling or grimacing are dramatic, and as the team also notes: ‘With 10% of the [global] population estimated to be needle-phobic and 16 billion injections occurring every year, the beneﬁts of this simple method could be far-reaching.’ EMMA YOUNG
Whose parks… our parks… makes them better cared for How do we keep parks, rivers, lakes and other shared resources wellmaintained? According to a paper published in the Journal of Marketing, it might come down to a sense of ownership – the more we feel a property or resource is ours, the better we’ll take care of it. The focus of the ﬁrst study was a lake, where 135 participants had rented kayaks. Some were asked to think of and write down a nickname for the lake, while others were not; all renters were then told that they should pick up rubbish they found ﬂoating in the lake. Those who had given the lake a nickname reported signiﬁcantly higher levels of psychological ownership of the lake than those who had not. They were also more likely to actually take care of the lake: 41 per cent attempted to pick up the ﬂoating objects, compared to just 7 per cent of those in the control condition. In the second study, participants imagined walking in a park, seeing a sign that said either ‘welcome
to the park’ or ‘welcome to your park’. Participants were then asked about feelings of responsibility and obligation towards the park. They also indicated whether they would pick up rubbish in the park and how much of $100 they would donate towards it. Again, boosting feelings of ownership by highlighting that it was ‘your’ park increased participants’ perceived responsibility for the park. This led them to say they would be more likely to pick up rubbish, and to increase their intended donation amount by an average of $8. A ﬁnal lab-based study found that a commonly used device – an attendance sign which highlighted that a participant was the 22,452nd visitor of the week – reduced the beneﬁcial effects of boosting feelings of psychological ownership. This suggests that when people see themselves as just one individual in a larger group, they feel less responsibility towards the environment. EMILY REYNOLDS
Words which can catch a wolf
Fears of child sexual abuse are on the rise in the digital era, with the internet providing a perfect playground for predators. But could technology also be the solution? Talia Gilbey writes
n April 2020, the National Crime Agency revealed that 300,000 people in the UK pose a sexual threat to children online. Even more alarmingly, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) reported a 50 per cent increase in reports of images and videos containing child sexual abuse material circulating online during the ﬁrst Covid-19 lockdown. About a third of this abusive material actioned by the IWF is ‘self-generated’ – created and posted by the child themselves after being groomed by online predators. The task of detecting cyber predators is extremely challenging. They hide behind increasingly sophisticated technology as they target one of the more vulnerable groups in our society. Their concealed identity allows them to communicate with multiple children at once, across several online platforms, adopting numerous personas, each tailored to maximise their appeal to individual targets (de Santisteban et al., 2018; Grant & Macleod, 2020). Building a relationship with a child over the internet with the intention of making them engage in some kind of sexual activity is a criminal act regardless of whether the predator ultimately meets with the child face-to-face. As explained by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, grooming can have lasting effects on the child victims, including anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts, irrespective of whether physical contact was involved. Predators who do use the internet to try and gain physical access to children are sometimes referred to as ‘contact-driven’ offenders (Briggs et al., 2011). On the other hand, ‘fantasy-driven’ offenders have no intention of meeting the child ofﬂine and instead focus on engaging the child in inappropriate sexual activity online, ranging from sexual conversation to convincing the child to view or produce pornographic images (Briggs et al., 2011). While the usefulness of the distinction between contact and fantasy driven offenders remains debated – given, for example, the disregard for mixed offenders who engage in both types of abuse (Broome et al., 2018) – what remains clear is that all of these offenders are using technology to facilitate the abuse. But can technology also be the solution?
Seeing through the sheep’s clothing With the media perpetuating a highly stereotypical image of a child sex offender, the challenge of spotting one might not seem so great. A creepy ﬁgure in a trench coat, lurking around parks and playgrounds, convincing children to play, to trust and befriend them. Parents warn their children of ‘strangerdanger’, explaining that behind the friendly façade lies dangerous, cunning, malicious intent – a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The question is, how does this wolf present itself online? Through analysing chat logs and transcripts of grooming conversations, teams of psychologists, criminologists and linguists are beginning to understand the complex manipulative strategies used by sexual predators to ‘successfully’ groom children. More importantly, they are beginning to identify how these grooming goals are being realised in and through language and other semiotic modes. This knowledge can inform a detection database, where a computer algorithm can recognise online grooming by spotting distinctive language patterns of a grooming conversation. In this way, technology can be used to bridge the gap between a psychological and linguistic understanding of the grooming process and an effective way of detecting these predators in action. If perpetrators can be spotted quickly and early on in the grooming process, it is hoped that the damage to the child will be minimised. Trust One core manipulative strategy consistently identiﬁed in grooming conversations is the creation and maintenance of a strong sense of trust between the child and predator (Lorenzo-Dus et al., 2016). For children to be lured into engaging in sexual activities, a deceptive relationship where the
the psychologist february 2021 online grooming
child feels an emotional bond to the perpetrator must ﬁrst exist. This process is often labelled ‘deceptive trust development’ as groomers hide their ulterior motive behind a seemingly trustful bond (Olson et al., 2007). Examining the linguistic patterns involved in developing a sense of trust through praising the child reveals the importance of compliments (Lorenzo-Dus & Izura, 2017). Compliments on the child’s physical appearance tend to focus on their sexual attributes. However, these types of compliments are ‘strategically balanced’ with non-sexually orientated compliments, which instead often concentrated on the child’s personality (Lorenzo-Dus & Izura, 2017, p.80). Therefore, a computer algorithm sensitive enough to detect deceptive trust development will spot not only sexual but also non-sexually orientated compliments, as both are working in tandem to achieve the same manipulative grooming strategy. Self-disclosure Another potentially distinctive linguistic approach used by predators to gain children’s trust is through self-disclosure, particularly of negative emotions (Chiu et al., 2018). When predators share such personal information, they appear to show the child a more vulnerable side to themselves. They also demonstrate to the child that they trust them enough to disclose their feelings and experiences in the ﬁrst place, thus encouraging the child to reciprocate. What is particularly telling is that contact-driven offenders are more likely to use this strategy compared to fantasydriven offenders as predators wishing to meet the child ofﬂine must develop a particularly strong sense of trust with the child (Chiu et al., 2018). Therefore, effective preventative technology will also be able to detect deceptive trust development by identifying selfdisclosures through positive and negative emotion words and the use of ﬁrstperson pronouns. Distance and isolate While the predator employs a trust development strategy to build an emotional bond between themselves and the child, they simultaneously work to distance and isolate the child’s bonds with other people (Lorenzo-Dus et al., 2016). This strategy, referred to as ‘mental isolation’, creates gaps in the child’s support network, leaving space for the predator to become the person that the child relies and depends on. Given that a child’s support network often includes their parents, the language used
to facilitate this isolation strategy tends to involve family terms, particularly the words ‘mum’ and ‘daddy’ (Lorenzo-Dus & Kinzel, 2019). For example, the predator might ask the child questions like, ‘do you forgive your mum for what she has done to you’ as a way of emotionally separating them from their mother (Lorenzo-Dus & Kinzel, 2019). Unfortunately, mental isolation comprises only a part of the groomer’s isolation strategy. In order to minimise the risk of being caught, predators also try and gauge and develop the child’s physical isolation. This self-preservation strategy can be recognised through questions regarding parents’ work schedules, seeking assurance that there are no adults supervising the child online and even asking the child to delete previous chats (Barber & Bettez, 2014). Predators can also protect themselves from being caught by telling the child that, because of the age difference between them, he (the predator) can get into trouble if anybody found out (Chiang & Grant, 2017). This encourages the child to keep their relationship a secret (Kloess et al., 2019). Desensitisation Given the linguistically subtle ways in which groomers increase the child’s level of isolation, making it difﬁcult to distinguish a grooming conversation from a conversation between friends, perhaps it would be more effective for a computer algorithm to focus on detecting when groomers prepare the child for various sexual activities, either online or ofﬂine; this strategy is labelled ‘sexual gratiﬁcation’ (Lorenzo-Dus et al., 2016). One of the ways this is achieved linguistically is through explicit desensitisation. Through graphically describing various sexual activities to generally using sexual slang words, the predator desensitises the child, leading them to believe that this behaviour is normal. The process in itself is sexually gratifying for the predator (Barber & Bettez, 2014) and may be the most obvious indicator of a case of grooming. Another approach to obtaining sexual gratiﬁcation is through implicit desensitisation, which may include speaking about sexual activities in a more metaphorical sense, perhaps making it harder to detect. Groomers also use reframing techniques such as positive politeness strategies where the aim is to maintain the child’s positive ‘face’ or selfimage (Lorenzo-Dus et al., 2016; Brown & Levinson, 1987). For example, by framing the sexual activity as ultimately beneﬁtting the child, it appears as though the perpetrator wants what the child wants, making the child feel accepted, appreciated and approved of by the perpetrator; this works to persuade the child to engage in the sexual activities (Lorenzo-Dus et al., 2016; Brown & Levinson, 1987). The complexity of developing algorithms to ‘pick out’ such subtly dangerous language presents a signiﬁcant challenge to the potential for using technology to identify online groomers.
Compliance testing the fact that these transcripts Interestingly, the increased use of involve predators that have been the sexual gratiﬁcation strategy and convicted suggests that they isolation strategy is correlated with genuinely believed they were an increased sense of the child’s interacting with a child, indicating compliance (Lorenzo-Dus et al., that the adults were mirroring a 2016). How willing the child is child’s response well. Therefore, to engage in sexual activities with the conclusions drawn from such the predator is being constantly Talia Gilbey is a psychology research can still be considered assessed throughout their undergraduate at Durham to have signiﬁcantly helped in conversation, a strategy referred University. uncovering how a wolf presents to as ‘compliance testing’. Barber email@example.com itself online. and Bettez (2014) found that if However, the question still the child was not compliant, the remains how easy it is, in reality, to see through the predator tended not to use blackmail or force the child sheep’s clothing. to engage in these activities but instead would simply Driven to ﬁnd an answer, I spent a summer as stop conversing with the child. an intern at Keepers Child Safety (KCS), a company One of the ways predators test the child’s compliance is through reverse psychology, for example committed to protecting children online through software that automatically detects potentially by asking the child whether they were ‘gonna chiken dangerous communications. Their artiﬁcial out’ (Lorenzo-Dus et al., 2016, p.49). Additionally, the intelligence-based app is programmed to identify groomer may adopt a role reversal technique where parts of a conversation which may indicate grooming they mirror the child’s expected cautious behaviour, behaviour. such as suggesting they meet in a public area. What The most apparent challenge facing the company, is interesting is that any plans or decisions made with and likely facing any grooming detection software, the child is framed to make the child believe that is its ability to differentiate a harmless from a they are in control. This technique, labelled ‘strategic dangerous conversation. Many of the words and withdrawal’, can be identiﬁed when predators make phrases detailed above are used as part of our everyday claims that they only want what the communications, not just in a grooming context. child wants, for example. Key sources Hence it is crucial that the algorithm can accurately detect distinctive language patterns indicative of manipulative grooming strategies. The effectiveness of Caution, with a step forward Barber, C. & Bettez, S. (2014). the algorithm may also be measured by the speed at From strategic withdrawal to Deconstructing the online grooming of youth: Toward improved information which grooming conversations can be detected. It is complimenting behaviour, it seems systems for detection of online sexual hoped that quicker detection will minimise the harm as though researchers have a solid predators. Proceedings of ICIS. ultimately caused to the child. grasp not only of the manipulative Briggs, P., Simon, W.T. & Simonsen, S. Despite these challenges, safeguarding children strategies used by predators to lure (2011). An exploratory study of Internetfrom sexual abuse is too important a battle to give victims, but also how these are initiated sexual offenses and the chat up on, and one that cannot be fought by technology approached linguistically. However, room sex offender: Has the Internet enabled a new typology of sex offender?. companies alone. If law enforcement ofﬁces released an element of caution is required Sexual Abuse, 23(1), 72-91. more ‘naturally occurring’ i.e. child-adult, grooming when interpreting data from a IWF. (2020). Children may be at greater transcripts for scientiﬁc scrutiny, this can act as fuel for large majority of these studies. risk of grooming during coronavirus detection algorithms. Constant topping up of detection Given the difﬁculty in obtaining pandemic as IWF braces for spike in databases works to improve the algorithm’s capability, genuine transcripts of child-adult public reports. Retrieved 9 October accuracy and effectiveness; it works to save children grooming conversations, many of 2020, from https://www.iwf.org.uk/ news/children-may-be-at-greaterthese studies have had to settle with from abuse. risk-of-grooming-during-coronavirusNonetheless, the existence of algorithms which analysing conversations between pandemic-as-iwf-braces-for. can detect some cases of online grooming is a huge convicted predators and adult Lorenzo-Dus, N. & Izura, C. (2017). step towards creating a safer online environment for decoys pretending to be children “cause ur special”: Understanding children. We may never achieve the ultimate goal i.e. adult-adult conversations. It trust and complimenting behaviour in of creating foolproof technology that detects every remains unclear how accurately online grooming discourse. Journal of Pragmatics, 112, 68-82. grooming conversation; yet meaningful progress which adults portray children during Lorenzo-Dus, N., Izura, C. & Pérezprotects children, and offers a solid base from which these conversations and, therefore, Tattam, R. (2016). Understanding to continue to strive to improve the effectiveness of a how different results would grooming discourse in computertechnology solution, is worth pursuing. The protection have been if these experiments mediated environments. Discourse, provided by the current technology to any child from analysed interactions with real Context & Media, 12, 40-50. sexual abuse makes research powered by psychology, children (Lorenzo-Dus et al., Full list available in online/app version. linguistics and algorithms for the purpose of detecting 2016; Lorenzo-Dus, Kinzel & Di online grooming indispensable. Cristofaro, 2020). With that said,
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THE PRESIDENTSâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; AWARD FOR DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTIONS TO PSYCHOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE 2021 We invite members of the Society to submit nominations for the Presidentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychological Knowledge. The Presidentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Award is given to candidates normally resident in the United Kingdom as a mid-career award. It is intended as a timely acknowledgement of the achievements of those who are currently engaged in research of outstanding quality. Grounds for proposing the candidate should be fully stated by the proposer, but a full CV need not be included. This may be requested by the Research Board once a shortlist of possible recipients has been agreed by the Board. The Presidentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Award carries with it Life Membership of the Society and a commemorative certificate. Professor Daniel Freeman was the recipient of the Presidentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychological Knowledge 2020. To make a nomination please contact Carl Bourton on firstname.lastname@example.org for the full criteria and the application form
Eligibility: Academics and researchers, including those in retirement, in any area of psychology. Nominees need not be members of the Society but they must be resident in the UK. Award winners will not only have an outstanding record of personal achievements but will have also made significant contributions to the advancement of psychological knowledge; contributions to the work of the Society would also be considered appropriate. Nominations should include: â&#x20AC;˘ A statement, up to 2000 words, detailing the candidateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s achievements and the grounds for nomination. â&#x20AC;˘ A full CV â&#x20AC;˘ The names and addresses of three potential referees (to include a least one current/ former colleague of the nominee, who may be an employer such as a Head of Department, Dean etc.) The Award will confer: â&#x20AC;˘ Life Membership of the Society â&#x20AC;˘ ÂŁ1000 to be spent on furthering an area of research of the nomineeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s choice â&#x20AC;˘ A commemorative certificate. To make a nomination please contact Carl Bourton on email@example.com for the full criteria and the application form
That was the question for this year’s Voices in Psychology programme, which aims to identify and nurture new writing talent in Psychology. Here, we present the winning entries in full. Dotted throughout, we present brief extracts from runners up. This is our third year of running the Voices in Psychology programme and we were, as ever, overwhelmed with the range of responses. Submissions covered everything from personal stories about barriers related to class, race, and gender, to more systemic-level commentaries on the purpose and function of our discipline. Taken together, they provide a fascinating insight into the various personal and professional barriers that can exist in the journey to and through psychology. Importantly, each featured article also has a uniquely hopeful and positive tone to it, each providing useful suggestions to how we can come together to dismantle some of these pervasive barriers. The winning articles serve as a collective ‘call to arms’, each advocating in unique ways for values of inclusion, accessibility, and diversity of psychology. These ideas will crucially shape our agenda as we continue to reddress the barriers to our profession.
Madeleine Pownall, Associate Editor, VIP Dr Annie Brookman-Byrne, Deputy Editor
What are the barriers to our profession, and how can we remove them?
the psychologist february 2021 voices in psychology
‘I knew what it felt like to interact with the world differently’ It was heart-breaking letters from the British Psychological Society that sparked my friendship with Helen, at a Deaf house party more than 20 years ago. We had just met, but while chatting realised that we were both psychology graduates and had both written to the BPS ask whether it would be possible for a deaf person to have a career in clinical psychology. The replies said we could not become clinicians because the ability to communicate was essential. The hurt on Helen’s face mirrored the sting that I had also felt on opening my BPS-logoed reply. Our rapport was kindled by knowing sighs. We didn’t have to explain, or edit ourselves. The moment was brief. It was a shrug passed between two people who knew what it is to live in a world designed for other people. Unspoken in that moment, were our years of access struggles: the obstacles to taking part and accessing information that must be grappled with at every turn; the ignorant attitudes that must be carefully managed; the extra emotional energy spent convincing others that we were capable, or assuaging their discomfort around disability. We both understood the burden of what I call ‘access labour’ – days and hours spent persuading people of our right to take part, chasing funding for communication support, and all the additional admin that comes with living with a disability. My psychology ambitions had hatched as a teenager while devouring Oliver Sacks’ written insights into the lives of people living with rare neurological conditions. I wanted to have conversations with those within the pages, who were living in a world that was not designed for their unusual brains. I wanted to know them, to understand them, to help them understand themselves, and to help them stoke enough fortitude to navigate the relentless barriers in society. I knew what it felt like to interact with the world differently, and to need greater stocks of resilience and determination, because every day is strewn with obstacles and prejudice. Eventually, through sheer single-mindedness, I did become a clinical psychologist. The BPS’s response had come from a place of assumption and ignorance, which was common at that time. Of course deaf people can communicate. Deaf folk are often talented communicators, and as Bruno Kahn’s writing on this subject shows, we have much to teach those who can hear. I work in tandem with a BSL interpreter. It’s a mindful, conscious process and together we are more than the sum of our parts. Clients sometimes tell me that there is greater healing power in feeling heard, by not just one, but two people. It is a different way of working, that brings extra tools to the box, and can add to, rather than diminish, the therapeutic process.
Dr Joanna Atkinson, clinical psychologist in community neurorehabilitation, UCL
Barriers to our profession are rooted in broader structural inequality. The BPS has a role in dismantling societal injustices, for example, the crisis in accessible education for children with disabilities. Obtaining a statement of educational needs is an uphill battle for many families and this needs to change. Provision is often woefully inadequate – tokenistic and poorly resourced, leading to underachievement. This is coupled with shockingly low expectations and a lack of visible disabled role-models. Young people with disabilities may never see psychology as a potential career. At university, a disabled student has to expend more energy just to level-peg. They may not be left with the time or mental resources needed for the ‘CV enhancing’ extra-curriculars that are deemed essential to get to the next rung on the psychology ladder. Disability support is not available for voluntary work or internships anyway – these opportunities are closed off. Access to training is just the ﬁrst hurdle. There are also hidden barriers to career progression, such as using time as a benchmark of competency. There is not only pressure to succeed, but to do so within a certain timeframe, and not enough recognition that some people may take longer because of barriers, not ability.
The call for submissions to this very programme stated, ‘we are mostly interested in identifying high potential amongst those starting their journey in psychology’. But showcasing your early career potential is probably a privilege not available to psychologists with disabilities, who need stamina to overcome prejudice and persuade people that they are employable. So, what are the solutions? Simply, ask people what can be done to foster their inclusion. Find out. Ask questions. Have conversations. Be brave and step outside your comfort zone. Make it easier for people to self-disclose. Be curious about the impact on
accessibility of the Covid-related shake up in working practices. The shift to Zoom meetings might be one person’s logistical nightmare but another’s revelation! Scrutinise professional competency frameworks for any criteria that may be indirectly discriminatory. Disabled people may have fewer choices so make sure that they are not penalised by part-time working, or less mobility between jobs, ﬁelds, or grades – when you ﬁnd an accommodating workplace you tend to stay put. Recognise that disabled colleagues may not be able to travel for conferences or meetings. Ensure events are not arranged at short notice, as many need to plan their access in advance. Allocate accessibility budgets and seek out access requests. Make this the default rather than an afterthought. My friend Helen never became a psychologist, to the detriment of our profession, our diversity and the Deaf community who need more therapists who can sign. Her experience begs questions: How many deaf or disabled pioneers were lost to our discipline? How many aspirations were short-circuited? The seismic forces of Covid and Black Lives Matter have shown how the world can turn quickly upon its heel. The disruption, although yet to settle, shows that change is possible. Members who have sat under the radar, perhaps waiting for this moment may, at last, feel able to bring their experiences to the table. Such voices should be encouraged so that we can work together to make our profession more inclusive.
Strength in diversity I googled famous psychologists in the UK and looked at the pictures. Overwhelmingly, the depiction was of white women and men. I enjoyed reading so much about Bandura, Milgram, Tajfel, Skinner, Freud and many, many more. But many of you will be unaware of the Black psychologists that inspire me – Inez Beverly Prosser, Herman George Canady and Rosie Philips Bingham. During my A-levels, researching in the privacy of my room, I found a plethora of Black psychologists. But their research had been continuously aligned with Africa and African-American studies. The lack of diversity is in part due to the attainment gap between students from ethnic minority groups and white 32
students. The 2015 Higher Education Academy framework series investigated BME attainment at two universities with a vast BME population. It highlighted the need for a holistic approach, emphasising inclusive technologies and practice, as well as embedding a sense of belonging within the environment. Many people may feel too uncomfortable to have these conversations, slowing the process of identifying issues surrounding lack of diversity and promoting positive change. There is strength in diversity. There is strength in numbers. Psychologists who are not recognised need to have their voices heard and more importantly, to be seen. Let us unite and remove barriers that limit change.
Sarah Idowu, Welfare Ofﬁcer in a girl’s secondary school and aspiring Educational Psychologist
the psychologist february 2021 voices in psychology
Cracking the Psychenglish Enigma Psychology shares a deep connection with language. It starts with etymology – that logos (‘word’, ‘discourse’) in its name, which allows us to distinguish it from psychiatry – and goes all the way down to the use of talking therapies, which again sets it apart from its medical cousin. And yet, during the seven years I have lived in this country, I have been under the constant impression that language currently represents one of the biggest barriers to the profession. In a way, I am no longer surprised that language, which plays such a pivotal role in the ﬁeld, also shapes access to it. However, when I ﬁrst moved to the UK to start my PhD, it was a bit of a shock. Being fairly ﬂuent in English and having already spent ﬁve years studying and working in psychology in Italy, I believed I could navigate the ﬁeld with conﬁdence. It only took me a few days to realise how wrong I was – speciﬁcally, when I ﬁrst met the DClinPsy trainees. Based in the Medical School, I often had the opportunity to meet and chat with various cohorts of trainees in the corridors or communal kitchen. While the small talk didn’t present a problem, things changed dramatically as soon as the topic shifted to psychology: one moment I was there – excited to share opinions on brain injury, PTSD, or cognitive assessments – and the next I was holding my breath while ﬂoating in a verbal sea of ‘clients’, ‘formulations’, ‘self-reﬂections’, or ‘interventions’. I had no idea what they were talking about. To my Italian psychologist ear, an ‘intervention’ was a surgical operation (intervento chirurgico), while a client was always called a ‘patient’ (paziente). Following those brief conversations, I wondered if my whole life was a lie and whether I had to curse my school English teacher. In time, however, it became clear that this only happened when I spoke with trainees: I had no issues talking with physicians or nurses. Eventually, I realised that psychology in the UK doesn’t speak English. It speaks Psychenglish. Everything in it, from the lexicon to the syntax and the semantics, seems to be built around a speciﬁc set of rules shared within the profession. You have to sound scientiﬁc, but not too medical. Empathic, but not too emotional. And if you want to access the profession, you must abide. During my PhD, that didn’t represent a major issue for me. Academia – more international and diverse than many clinical ﬁelds – almost acted like a ﬁlter for the language barrier. However, Psychenglish became a much bigger problem when, after graduating and working as a researcher for a while, I decided to apply for clinical training. It felt like those chats with the trainees: there I was, staring puzzled at the Clearing House application form, feeling as if I was in Bletchley Park and had to crack the Enigma – the encryption machine adopted by the Germans during WWII. One wrong word, one misinterpreted sentence could have
meant seeing my application getting blitzkrieged. I had no alternative: I needed help from a trainee or clinical psychologist – I needed a codebreaker, a Psychenglish interpreter. Luckily, by that time I had the opportunity to turn to my former PhD supervisor (a brilliant clinical academic), as well as a number of great practitioners I had met during research. It is thanks to their advice, following multiple reviews and rehearsals of the correct attitudes and terminology to use in my application, that I eventually managed crack the code and get on a DClinPsy course. The experience eventually left me with a bitter question: was all that necessary? Why were applicants expected to speak like a psychologist before starting training? I am writing these words on the last week of Year 1 of my DClinPsy. I believe I am ﬁnally beginning to understand. While I initially thought Psychenglish was an issue speciﬁcally related to me and the way I had been taught in Italy, the recent drive towards increasing diversity in the profession – including the generous mobilisation of over a hundred trainees and practitioners to review the applications of people from marginalised backgrounds – has revealed the systemic game of intersectionality. If you are British, white, middle class, with no disability, you probably had the chance to pick up Psychenglish as you grew up, through your studies or work. Maybe you even had a psychologist in your family. But if you are BAME, LGBTQ+, working class, or disabled, then that language was unlikely part of your environment in your early years. And, by the time you tried to access the profession, Psychenglish was probably already an Enigma. Reﬂecting has made me realise I am privileged too. While I may not be British, I am white, middle class, with no disability – and I had the chance to obtain a PhD before applying. Most people from marginalised backgrounds don’t have that type of advantage. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know Psychenglish is here to stay. After all, that is the language of the profession. However, it’s the use of Psychenglish as a barrier – the Enigma machine during the application process – that we have target and dismantle. Ultimately, if we continue to select candidates based on how well they can speak like psychologists before even starting their training journey, with no effort to see the potential behind the language of those who had fewer opportunities, then we will continue to systemically prevent psychology from becoming the diverse and inclusive profession it should be.
Dr Nicolò Zarotti, trainee clinical psychologist, University of East Anglia
I grew up as dyslexic in an era when dyslexia was not widely recognised. My experiences of early and middle education, my supportive parents, my love of being around children and my attitude of dyslexia as an obstacle that could be overcome, drove me towards a pathway to support and enable others. This pathway has been long. But today I am working in education and psychology. I understand my ‘obstacle’ and how to work with and around it. We need diversity in the ﬁeld to truly help each other, and the impact of being present and empathetic should not be overlooked in achieving this. While psychology teaches and encourages unconditional positive regard, perhaps it has forgotten to practise it towards potential aspirants to the ﬁeld. Choosing to think about and discuss obstacles (that can be overcome) rather than barriers (that stop us), can give us hope and energy to move towards a fulﬁlled future. Amanda Owles, CEO of Pro-Tem Centre for Special Needs
Shaping our world To engage people with our ﬁeld we need to stress the enormity of our profession. During the second year of my undergraduate degree I almost left because I didn’t understand the complexity of psychology. The tide changed for me when I took a social psychology module and started to see the connections between psychology and everything else in the world. Those in my cohort went on to be policy researchers, administrators, civil servants, marketing professionals, international aid workers, teachers, social workers, or, like me, researchers. Ensuring students understand the careers available to them before they apply will improve the diversity of our ﬁeld in the future. We need to ensure we are not just attracting people to psychology as a clinical profession, but as a tool to better understand ourselves and the world we live in. So, when I tell someone I’m a psychologist, I take a deep breath. Then, I tell them about how environmental psychologists shape the way we travel; how discursive psychologists can read conversations like books to draw out deeper meaning; how cognitive psychologists use statistical models to understand memory; how moral psychologists question how we know right from wrong; how organisational psychologists reshape workplaces; how social psychologists shape pandemic responses through norm signalling. Psychology is about shaping our world. Annayah M.B. Prosser, PhD Psychology student, University of Bath 34
Opening up work-based experience Practical experience is often a pre-requisite for study beyond an undergraduate degree or paid work. Of the 478 BPS accredited undergraduate courses, 13 are available through online distance learning. But unlike many campus-based degrees, there are no placement opportunities. Those turning to distance learning may already be experiencing income or responsibility related barriers to accessing the profession, and no access to practical experience presents another barrier. This could mark the end of their ﬁrst-choice career aspirations. I propose that distance learning universities and the BPS could work together and utilise their extensive networks to offer a proportion of accredited distance learning undergraduate courses with a placement option. A certain amount of innovation would be necessary but lessons can be learnt from other institutions, such as the University of East Anglia’s online MA in crime ﬁction which includes residential experiences on campus. Universities are already working hard to ensure high quality online courses due to the pandemic, so now is the perfect time to consider the exclusively online learners and ensure that all psychology students have an equal chance at a psychology career. Not all distant learners will want, or be in a position, to take up a placement but, the profession stands to access talent that might otherwise have been lost. When work-based experience is vital, all students should be empowered to succeed. Karina Webb, undergraduate student in forensic psychology at the Open University
Working around obstacles
the psychologist february 2021 voices in psychology
Somewhere along my journey into psychology, I inherited the view that to work and succeed in the profession you cannot be a socio-political activist. Pursuing a psychology career would therefore require denying myself involvement in activism. If my views and actions were less visible, then maybe I would do better in my career. I remained relatively silent about socio-political issues, and felt like my views were being sanitised. My involvement in campaigning dissolved. Feeling uncertain about the professional boundaries and being scared into doing nothing created a barrier that initially stopped me from engaging with the profession. I adopt the term socio-political activist in this article to encompass social justice and politics, reaching beyond the level of government to the way power plays a part in all of our lives. I emphasise the activist part as this is perhaps what clashes most with being a psychologist. Being an activist goes beyond advocating to practicing and overtly campaigning. This can feel like a roadblock for those considering entering the profession. Psychology tells us a lot about the social determinants of mental health and how social issues combine with powerful institutions to produce disadvantage. The theme of social justice and psychologists’ involvement in social issues has gained momentum in recent years (see Rahim & Cooke’s 2019 book chapter ‘Should psychologists be political?’ for an excellent overview). Psychology cannot be
Charlotte Leedale, Assistant Psychologist, Newcastle
Socio-politics on the radar
completely separated from socio-political issues. After all, lots of us work in the NHS which is heavily inﬂuenced by politics, and institutional issues in NHS services contribute to marginalisation. While many psychologists may feel conﬁdent advocating for social justice, working to advance the social justice agenda through activism is more of a grey area. There are many levels of inﬂuence psychologists can have, such as through knowledge and research, but what about the practicing activist? Working in the profession comes with expectations and responsibilities, guided by core ethics. The BPS Code of Ethics and Conduct highlights the importance of maintaining professional and personal boundaries, providing accurate and unbiased views and avoiding conﬂicts of interest. There’s a risk that participating in socio-political activism could be seen as unprofessional and destructive, and some may view it as contentious given the positions of relative power psychologists can hold. There’s valid concern that involvement in activism could damage the objective and neutral stance that is valued by the profession. I think psychologists are right to be concerned about the potential perils of openly participating in socio-political activism. It is difﬁcult to provide reassurance when there is limited teaching and guidance around managing what could feel like conﬂicting identities. By continuing to leave these issues out of teaching and guidance, without agreeing upon how psychologists can be activists we only perpetuate these very real concerns and maintain barriers to the profession. By teaching individualistic therapy models at all levels of the profession, socio-political ideas are easily seen as irrelevant. Individual models often don’t make room for more systemic ways of thinking and those who wish to consider going beyond individual approaches must proactively seek out further training. If formal psychology teaching included greater
emphasis on social and political contexts, culture and history, then socio-politics could be seen as relevant and on the radar. Psychologists may in turn become more accustomed to taking a position on these issues. A vital step in removing this barrier is the sharing of stories by those who have made the move to openly engage in activism. My writing of this article coincided with the August 2020 issue of Clinical Psychology Forum – a special edition focusing on the climate and environmental crisis, containing beautifully illustrated and honest examples of psychologists engaging in activism. Practicing psychologists who own and are open about their active involvement in socio-political issues give us reassurance that it is possible. Without being able to reﬂect on positive examples like the work of Community Psychology, Psychologists for Social Change and XR Psychologists, I would not be writing this article. We might not feel part of activism or we might think that someone else could do it better, but these stories demonstrated the contrary. The BPS Practice Guidelines emphasise that psychologists should recognise their duty to actively promote equality and challenge conditions that contribute to trauma and distress. The recognition and obligation to engage with socio-political issues needs to be backed up with guidelines for how psychologists manage their professional identity while advancing the socio-political agenda. My own anxieties around
We bring understanding As an educational psychologist, I have been asked countless times to ‘check if a child has autism’. As a society we have become aligned to the medical model, wanting labels and quick ﬁxes. Yes, we have guidelines. Yes, there are traits we look for. And yes, the label can be extremely helpful for some individuals. But, when our views need to be triangulated with those of other professionals before a diagnosis is received, not to mention the waiting lists, a diagnosis can be years away. Despite the poor perceived credibility of psychology, and what I believe is the biggest barrier to our profession – that nobody knows what we do – our value is in the understanding that we bring to children and their families. We don’t need to provide a diagnosis to help our service users. We contextualise their difﬁculties, underpinned by theory, and offer them support to develop strategies and coping techniques. Individual psychologists will always vary in their approach, but perhaps the variability is where the strength of our profession lies. So, next time someone asks you what your job is, proudly say that you are a psychologist – someone who doesn’t have a chaise longue, but who does have knowledge, skills and the expertise to critically analyse an individual’s presentation. Dr Kavita Solder, Educational Psychologist, Torbay 36
openly advocating for socio-political justice and working out if I could balance an activist-psychologist identity led me to see the lack of guidance as a barrier to the profession. For those who make that personal choice, guidance could outline where psychologists stand in relation to being involved in activism. Guidelines would tackle balancing the challenging and conﬂicting nature of this work, addressing the concerns and reservations psychologists may hold. This could be achieved by drawing on the experience of those in the profession who have managed this identity, acknowledging discomfort and considering structures and pressures from organisations that psychologists are part of. Taking steps to engage at the activism level of socio-politics may feel clumsy and imperfect at ﬁrst. As more psychologists openly discuss and support social justice issues, taking a position on how psychologists channel their support through activism is a vital next step.
Finding similarities Working on my Master’s thesis, I was looking for differences in behaviour between heterosexuals and homosexuals, and among homosexuals between females and males, and among male homosexuals between tops and bottoms. I was thrilled to have found signiﬁcant differences in behaviour, but something wasn’t clicking… What about similarities? I had focused on differences, like lots of quantitative psychological research. A major barrier, I suggest, is this emphasis on differences over similarities. By differentiating between in-groups and out-groups, we risk further breaking us apart. We have a responsibility to promote commonalities in society. Perhaps my point of view is rooted in the Eastern culture of collectivism where I grew up… But wait, in a 2019 paper titled ‘A new way to look at the data: Similarities between groups of people are large and important’, Hanel, Maio and Manstead found more similarities than differences between East and West on the so-called collectivism-individualism dichotomy. More studies of this kind are welcome – we might be surprised by how similar we are. For this Voices in Psychology programme we were asked to write to make a difference. Well, my answer is, let’s not make a difference… Let’s make similarities! Will Sham, psychological wellbeing practitioner, Hong Kong
the psychologist february 2021 voices in psychology
Struggling in a rigged system I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME and as a consequence I reluctantly had to give up on my dream of becoming a GP, after eight years as a qualiﬁed medical doctor. More speciﬁcally, the lack of adaptability in the medical system to accommodate the consequences of this illness led to this unfortunate outcome. I have decided to pursue a career in Psychology, a profession that I hope is more closely aligned with my interests and goals – providing a more holistic approach to helping people. However, I’m discovering that the route to becoming a Chartered Psychologist appears littered with many of the familiar barriers that I experienced as a GP Speciality Trainee. I found Medicine, ironically perhaps, a rather hostile environment for a doctor with a disability and I am disheartened to discover, so is Psychology. The competitive application process for limited places on geographically dispersed doctorates means that trainees often have to move across the country to increase their chances of gaining a place. This is disrupting for anyone, but with a disability it may be impossible due to local vital support services. Even with a course place, the structure is often rigid, with a pervasive cultural ‘go hard or go home’ attitude which, again, isn’t appropriate for anyone, but particularly for those with disability, whose daily existence is hard enough. I was encouraged by the possibility of ﬂexible qualiﬁcation routes. But my heart fell as I realised these routes involve the disabled person spending more of their already limited time and energy sorting out their own training – a common pitfall of adjustments. Those able to pursue more conventional routes have arrangements made for them. There is also the ﬁnancial barrier – particularly surprising to me as Postgraduate Training in Medicine is NHS-funded as standard. Since only Clinical Psychology currently beneﬁts from funding, these courses are over-subscribed, and other routes incur huge ﬁnancial costs and potential debt. While I completed a Conversion course, all my fellow students had a part-time job. This option isn’t available to those who have to put all their energy into their course and rest when they get home. I had to rely on the ﬁnancial support of my spouse, but not all people with disabilities have access to such support. Experiencing disability has made me doubt myself. The world is generally set up to imply that I’m not good enough, as I’m unable to do many of the things that I took for granted when well. Even with a chronic illness with no obvious outward sign that there’s anything ‘wrong’ with me, I feel the stigma and the shame. When taking the plunge into a new profession it’s harder to overcome the fear of trying something new. I have the added worry of how my health condition will affect my chances of success. I have to steel myself, not only for the challenges that are an inevitable part of learning and growing, but the additional systemic obstacles. Life is difﬁcult enough
Dr Fiona Gilton, recent MSc graduate who hopes to become a Health Psychologist
with a disability. I’m all for hard work and effort, but I don’t agree with arbitrary standards and systems that are set up to exacerbate and enforce societal discrimination. I don’t want to apologise for my health condition, especially when my lived experience actually made me a better, more empathic and understanding doctor. Similarly, in Psychology, our strengths stem from our humanity, not proving ourselves by jumping through unnecessary hoops. With qualiﬁcation so arduous and expensive it takes on inﬂated signiﬁcance, perceived as a ‘right of passage’, essential for conferring an elevated position relative to others. The system ends up selecting those who can survive, ensuring that the profession is left with those who best conform to the system – not necessarily the best people for the role. This is compounded by the system often being designed by those who have successfully passed through it, who have endured but overcome the various hardships. These people are personally invested in validating their experience by assuring themselves it held value, perpetuating the cycle. It’s only since stepping away from being a doctor that I can see the limitations of the medical system more clearly. The people who fall by the wayside don’t get to have their say. Struggling in a rigged system is not a failure – it’s an inevitable consequence of trying to live in a world that wasn’t designed for everyone to thrive. The stereotypical view of disability represented by a person in a wheelchair tends to lead to adaptations focused on the physical – but disability comes in many forms. Our systems, as well as the physical environment, need to be re-designed. If disabled people are disadvantaged in the Psychology profession, their diverse voices aren’t going to be able to instigate the changes that will make a real difference. The solution
lies in building a system that is suitable and ﬂexible for all. Changes and adaptations that make the profession accessible for the disabled and disadvantaged will have the power to change the system for the beneﬁt of all. The system should support and adapt to people, instead of the other way around. Ultimately, with a supportive and adaptive system, we will gain the wisdom of psychologists who reﬂect the populations that they serve.
Ending ableism As an aspiring clinical psychologist with a disability, one of the barriers that I have faced accessing the profession is ableism – discrimination in favour of nondisabled people. For years, those of us with disabilities have asked for reasonable adjustments such as working from home, but we were told it wasn’t possible. Overnight in March 2020, this was granted to everyone. These adjustments were only made because non-disabled people were affected. This is what ableism looks like. Less than half of courses have signed up to the Disability Conﬁdent scheme. The scheme is set up to improve employment prospects for those with disabilities, and I believe that all courses should use this scheme as we are employed by the NHS, which is a Disability Conﬁdent organisation. Some universities for the clinical psychology doctorate are starting to look at utilising contextual information as part of their shortlisting process. This is a great step forward to diversifying the profession; however, I worry this might cause further discrimination due to unconscious bias. I call on the BPS to commission research into the experiences of aspiring, trainee, and qualiﬁed psychologists to understand and identify the different experiences of disabled and non-disabled psychologists. This will help us understand the extent of ableism in the profession and work towards addressing bias and discrimination. Angharad Jones, working in primary care mental health in the NHS
Our next question: How can we ﬂourish? Deadline 1 April. https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/voices-psychology 38
Reviewing peer review Publication is considered a necessity for proving oneself as a respected or reputable academic psychologist, yet the current system looks to scupper attempts to publish at every opportunity. It is often viewed as a necessary evil. But there is no need for it to take on the ‘evil’ mantle and it is time that it was reviewed. The peer review process is so soul-destroying that only the hardiest of psychologists or trainees will emerge successful and intact. Repeated rejection inevitably leads to self-doubt. Surely an apparently caring profession can develop a more appropriate as well as efﬁcient way to ﬁlter quality. Establishing a more trusting quality appraisal process would reduce the workload for reviewers, provide authors with clearer boundaries and speed up the publication process. Clarity would be particularly helpful for student authors and those starting out in the profession. Perhaps online journals could have ratings of papers to indicate a wider peer review than the usual two or three reviewers. Academics would be trusted to research with integrity, to share ﬁndings with honesty, and to respect the work of others. We are failing to support those who strive to enter the profession in accessing this knowledge and sharing work with their peers. I believe we can and should do better. Elanor Cormack, trainee sport and exercise psychologist, Glasgow Caledonian University
the psychologist february 2021 looking back
Support adapted to you and your client’s need As we move forwards so much remains uncertain, and you may be looking into ways to continue supporting your clients in the new year. One thing that won’t change is Pearson Clinical Assessment’s range of resources and tools that can help you to be there for those that need you the most, either face to face or via a virtual Telepractice session. PEUK A2606 | Version 1.0 | Clinical | Dec 2020 DCL1: Public | © Shutterstock/ chuyuss
Learn more on our assessment delivery options at: pearsonclinical.co.uk/psychsupport
Are you a Practitioner Psychologist? The Practice Board is recruiting! The Practice Board is seeking to recruit four new members: • A clinical psychologist • A counselling psychologist • An occupational psychologist • A psychologist practising in Wales The Practice Board acts as a responsive source of expertise, discusses current issues in psychological practice and engages in regular horizon scanning to proactively identify gaps in practice knowledge. We are seeking members currently in
practice who, in addition to being a conduit between the member networks and the Board have a wider strategic interest in the development of the profession. The BPS is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and we encourage applications from all backgrounds. For the full role description, terms of reference and to request a statement of interest form please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for applications is 8 March 2021
‘We should, as a profession, be siding with the dispossessed’ Ian Florance interviews Rachel Tribe, an occupational and counselling psychologist who is, among other roles, Professor of Applied Psychology at the University of East London
‘My father worked abroad in many places and perhaps that instilled in us a strong feeling for social justice,’ Rachel begins by telling me. ‘I thought I’d study English literature or psychology, but my practical side won out. In the back of my mind, I pictured myself as something like a community psychologist before such roles existed. I took a psychology degree at Loughborough then a number of other academic qualiﬁcations over time.’ Over the next decades, Rachel worked in a variety of specialisms, including in psychiatric hospitals and secondary care. ‘One job took place when the movement of patients back into the community was in full swing. It involved multidisciplinary working, often with institutionalised people who had been in the hospital for years. I had roles at observation and assessment centres assessing young people who had experienced problems in their families, with the law or with other matters. As a young woman, I found forensic work at Broadmoor hospital quite challenging. I then worked in other parts of the NHS and in the charity sector. I qualiﬁed in various psychotherapies and in adult teaching and also took an MBA, a PhD, and a Master’s degree in Occupational Psychology to broaden my understanding of how organisations might function more efﬁciently.’ While Rachel was working for charities, a strand developed which involved working with refugees, asylum seekers and with survivors of torture and organised violence. ‘It was incredibly thoughtprovoking. That sort of work makes you come up with new solutions: you can’t just sit in your clinic and wait for people to come to you.’ Which can lead down
some unusual paths. ‘I was working with survivors of torture and organised violence who were suffering a Cartesian split… torturers often use mind or body to impact negatively on the other, leading torture victims to feel a loss of control or choice about what happens to their body… and one of my clients suggested team sport might be good for his health. Football seemed the obvious choice. It wasn’t just a question of playing; the games and training gave us an opportunity to talk about issues and to build support and community. It formed a community for refugees who felt alone and alienated in London. While colleagues found it difﬁcult to accept football as therapy, German TV made a ﬁlm about us and a Channel 4 producer became interested. We were helped by two former international players. Leyton Orient offered us coaching and we won our league.’ International work Our interviews took place over a period of time when Rachel was taking one of her regular trips to Sri Lanka. ‘I met someone at a conference in Chile who did work in Sri Lankan refugee camps during the civil war. I invited her to come to the UK so our team could learn about what they were doing in Sri Lanka, we could learn from each other and she could see what we were doing in the UK. In the early ‘90s, the British embassy asked me to go to Sri Lanka and I’ve been travelling there to volunteer ever since, including during the civil war.’ Rachel works in partnership with a range of organisations including universities, mental health organisations, charities. ‘I’ve worked in refugee camps and war zones in Sri Lanka and other countries across ﬁve continents. Partnering with trained doctors, carers and others I also set up a children’s play activity programme. During the civil war in Sri Lanka, I helped to establish a women’s programme, which included offering training in basic medical and wellbeing techniques.’
the psychologist february 2021 careers
on mental health and older adults and is involved in ‘We set up a clinical psychology training course at work related to this. Currently she is also undertaking Colombo University, and are in the process of setting projects with a multidisciplinary team involving up another training programme at Jaffna University parents with children and adolescents with additional and wellbeing centres for staff and students at two needs in four countries and in training and supporting universities. It’s taught me that Western psychology workers at the Refugee Council. Her current projects needs to be better at incorporating indigenous focus on a community psychology project, work with psychologies into our way of doing things. We teach various psychological societies, work in Kenya with basic CBT in the UK as a norm when certain cultures have had different ways of addressing similar issues for carers and young people and work in Britain with psychology trainees and with medical students. thousands of years.’ This work has involved consulting and training with the British Council, Department of Health, Department of Education, Foreign and Commonwealth Siding with the dispossessed Given this hugely diverse global experience I asked Ofﬁce, Singapore Psychological Society, Transcultural Rachel for her views about the place of psychology in Psychosocial Organisation, Amnesty International and a wider world. ‘What are we doing as a discipline to a range of national and international organisations make a difference? The Royal Society of Psychiatrists and charities. Rachel is a trustee of two international is an example of a professional mental health charities, is organisation that consistently chairperson of one and is also vice issues statements on societal chair of the World Association for “we seem not always to issues. There have been impressive Cultural Psychiatry Mental Health use our status enough to changes in our society and there and Human Rights group. is more activity in this opinionaffect policy and public inﬂuencing area, but we seem opinion…” not always to use our status From Sri Lanka to London enough to affect policy and public Rachel’s vision reﬂects the opinion and therefore to make universities she is associated with. the difference we could. One of the objections to These include The University of East London, raising our public proﬁle is that the society becomes Queen Mary University of London and universities in politicised; but interventions should be about Sri Lanka and Uganda. underlying psychological issues, which may include Rachel described two areas which are particularly political stances.’ important to her at the moment: the Refugee Health I asked her what sorts of debates the society and Wellbeing Portal (www.uel.ac.uk/research/refugeeshould be contributing to. ‘Some suggestions include mental-health-and-wellbeing-portal) and her work the important work currently being undertaken on with interpreters. The introduction to the portal gives the psychological effects of austerity, the possible a succinct idea about its purpose: ‘It has been created causes of increased aggression in society, the to be used as a ﬁrst stop resource to enable mental underlying issues of various structural factors – health and social care professionals, community human rights issues for instance. We should always organisations, statutory, international and national use research evidence to back up our statements, but third sector organisations and refugees and asylum research ﬁndings tend to get lost in journals and then seekers themselves, to easily access the wealth of distorted by others in the media. That is something information and resources, and practical tools many of we and other professions have to address. All that which are not accessible in one place.’ said, politics and psychology interact. I would echo In her work on interpreters, Rachel has trained Gramsci: we should, as a profession, be siding with the people, written on the topic and made a training DVD dispossessed.’ for the Department of Health, which was launched Why do you think psychology is so much (at their request) at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. less involved in this way than other professions? She has recently published the 3rd edition of a book Most psychologists I know have strong opinions. on Professional, Research and Ethical Practice for ‘Partly because of our divisional silos which tend to Psychologists, Psychotherapists and Psychiatrists, compete and preclude collaboration. And despite which she co-edited and is currently working with what you say, I think some psychologists suffer from international colleagues on a book on migration and imposter syndrome when comparing ourselves to, mental health. say, psychiatrists. We need to change this, as we have In addition to this, she works in areas as diverse a lot to offer. Of course, there are dangers in all this, as professional ethics, global mental health and both to us as a profession and to individuals. People psychological interventions with older adults, and is need careers and I’ve been told: “You can’t say things currently involved in a project around mental health like that”. But I’ve suffered bereavement recently and with the construction industry and on developing a it’s reinforced my understanding that life is too short. mental health app. She recently contributed with a colleague to the All Party Parliamentary group (APPG) What are we so frightened of?’
Psychoeducation doesn’t have to be boring Fiona Zandt on creative ways to help children and families understand anxiety
lay is the perfect vehicle for explaining therapeutic concepts to children: we can tailor the information so it is appropriate to the age and stage of the child, and provide a way for them to engage with the idea, helping them to learn through doing. Understanding anxious processes remains important for children and their families throughout therapy, and we can deepen this as they progress through therapy. Understanding what is happening is often a key step to being able to do something differently and it is amazing how powerful this can be. Indeed, developing an understanding is often an intervention in and of itself. For example, helping a child understand the role that avoidance plays in their anxiety has often resulted in them coming into the next session to tell me that they ‘just did’ something that was causing them anxiety.
Similarly, exploring the idea that anxiety might be ‘catching’ within a family has often resulted in parents being able to better notice and regulate their own worry, whether it be around bedtime or having their child take an important medication, and become better able to regulate themselves in these situations. In turn, this often results in the child’s anxiety decreasing. It is typically the adults in a child’s life who initiate the therapy process and most children have little motivation to face their fears. The child’s natural response has often been to avoid whatever triggers their anxiety and they frequently see new situations as threatening. The idea of going to see someone who is going to help them do the very thing they fear most, whether that is going to school or getting in the water at their swim lesson, is often anxiety-provoking. Sometimes as therapists
the psychologist february 2021 books we inadvertently reinforce this anxiety by creating fear hierarchies in the ﬁrst few sessions. One of our activities, the Worry Shrink Ray, enables children to try something out and notice whether doing it ‘shrinks’ their anxiety. Playing around with this helps to convey the idea that anxiety lessens when we do what makes us worried. Children learn best when we can engage them in hands on playful activities that scaffold their learning and allow them to make discoveries. Reﬂecting at each point about what a child and family might need to understand, and deepening their awareness through layers as we move through therapy, is important. A family might need to move, for example, from understanding how anxiety feels in our bodies, to learning that anxiety can be helpful at times, to knowing that avoidance increases anxiety, to learning that facing our fears can be worthwhile. Providing psychoeducation that works with the system around the child and is developmentally appropriate raises the question of whom it should be appropriate for. Children and parents both need to understand anxiety, but they need different explanations. Using play to explain concepts to children is a great starting point. Involving parents in the play, allowing them to experience a simpler explanation, and then allowing time for further discussion so that they can deepen their understanding as needed, works well. For example, in explaining anxiety to children I often use a game I call Flight, Fight, Freeze statues. It’s a variation on the party game of musical statues, but rather than simply freezing when the music stops children can choose to pause in a running pose, assume a ﬁghting pose, or freeze in whatever position they were in. As we play, we can talk about how we often have these responses when we are anxious. We explore times when we might have responded in this way and what our typical response might be. Parents can participate in this game and we can have further conversation about how their child tends to respond when anxious, and how they can best support them in this situation. Being playful with a child is a lovely way to build our relationship with them, which often has additional therapeutic beneﬁts. Furthermore, play is intrinsically fun and the beneﬁt of this should not be underestimated. Some of the children we see are struggling in many aspects of their lives and moments of fun are to be treasured. So why not embrace psychoeducation as an essential aspect of therapy? Use play as a vehicle for helping a child to learn about anxiety in a developmentally appropriate and meaningful way, and enjoy the fun this creates. Dr Fiona Zandt is a Clinical Psychologist. Her book with Dr Suzanne Barrett, Creative Ways to Help Children Manage Anxiety, is supported by a website with blog posts and free resources https://childpsychologyworkshops.com.au
Mirroring the game of life When Maria Konnikova asked Erik Seidel to prepare her for the World Series of Poker, she did not even know how many cards there are in a deck. Seidel’s skill is known to non-poker buffs from the 1998 ﬁlm Rounders, where Matt Damon’s character analyses Seidel’s plays over and over again. So why should this champion take on this novice? Initially he is intrigued when Konnikova tells him she has a doctorate in psychology, but what clinches the deal is when he learns that Walter Mischel – whom Seidel recognizes as ‘the marshmallow guy’ – was her advisor. ‘Self-control’, Seidel reﬂects, ‘is huge in the game’. For Konnikova – writing in her book The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Take Control and
Master the Odds – all of psychology is key to the game, and poker is key to understanding the world mentally challenged humans inhabit, with our false beliefs in control and order and our tendency to discount chance and chaos. Her interest in ‘the line between skill and luck…what I could control and what I couldn’t’ reveals itself as a much deeper question about who we are. Read Dr Terri Apter’s full review at thepsychologist.bps.org.uk
Social identity in sport The New Psychology of Sport and Exercise: The Social Identity Approach S Alexander Haslam, Katrien Fransen & Filip Boen (eds) Sage
Given that we broadly spend a third of each weekday (and entire weekends) on leisure, it is surprising that sport and exercise features so little in mainstream social psychology. It is then a treat to have this book, the third major text dedicated to social psychology of sport and exercise in as many decades (see Gordon Russell’s 1993 and David Lavallee and Sophia Jowlett’s 2004 texts). The New Psychology of Sport and Exercise offers conventional chapters that bring social psychological principles anchored around performance and group dynamics. It also covers marginalised areas such as fandom, sport crowd behaviour, and political inﬂuence on sport related identities. In general, the text is premised upon the value of a Social Identity Approach for understanding sport and exercise behaviour. The book asserts that groups – and the sense of self that athletes and spectators derive from them – are fundamental to all sport and exercise behaviours. As such, throughout the text it is argued that ‘we-ness’ has been a peripheral focus of sport and exercise scholars and needs to be brought to the forefront of the research agenda, because it is social identity that makes group behaviour possible, and by extension sport and exercise. Chapters are constructed around the 5 Ps (participation, performance, psychological and physical health, partisanship, and politics). Each ‘P’ has its own core hypothesis, supported by the context principle, the inﬂuence principle, and the emergence principle, providing the clearest framework to date on how best to utilise social identity approaches to sport and exercise. The book opens up a communication channel for scholars trained in sport and exercise and social psychologists to develop
unique collaborations to further test social identity approaches, in as real-world a context as one could get. The text starts strongly with the most well-known utilisation of social identity approaches to topics such as leadership and motivation, transposed and contextualised to sporting contexts. This sits alongside treatments of topics where social identity’s application is less known, but no less convincing – most notably communication, youth development and career progression. While there are examples from a variety of sports through the text, there is an over reliance on team sport, in particular football, relegating exercise behaviour to the periphery. By focussing on football, principles of context and multiple social identities (e.g., the role of gender, age, ethnicity, class) inﬂuencing behaviour in sporting contexts appear abandoned, with little consideration of the way differing sport and exercise cultures emerge and exist as products of different broader societal identities. Broadly the book offers the clearest framework to date on how best to utilise social identity approaches to sport and exercise. But an opportunity is missed to consider how sport and exercise is also a performance of broader society. Sport and exercise are, for example, held up as a progressive global institutions and activities
and bastion for the promotion of positive and egalitarian attitudes (e.g., stamping out racism and homophobia). But sport is ultimately a space for competition and dominance. And so, we must conclude that it is also a context in which broader societal struggles are reinforced, too, that social identity processes can be damaging to groups (e.g., reinforcing racism and stigma towards those living with disabilities), and by proxy, society too. Reviewed by Dr Gareth Hall, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Aberystwyth University
Relationship status: It’s complicated
On Facebook, we’re free to set our relationship status to ‘it’s complicated’ if cookie-cutter boxes of being single or partnered don’t seem to ﬁt. ‘It’s complicated’ also sums up the relationship triangle between many parents, their children and digital technology. Parents don’t fall into neat stereotypes of embracing, resisting or balancing their children’s use of digital technology. Instead, they self-navigate their own tentative, uncertain, but hopeful paths through a myriad of digital dilemmas. And for the most part, they do it alone without the help of organisations charged with supporting them. This is the central ﬁnding of Parenting for a Digital Future by LSE psychologist Sonia Livingstone and anthropologist Alicia Blum-Ross. Drawing from in-depth interviews with a diverse selection of 73 Londonbased families, and validated by a 2017 national UK survey of 2032 parents, the book shuns stereotypes and busts myths about parenting practices in our increasingly digitalised lives. Notably, the book reveals how parents are largely immune to sensationalist media hysteria and moral panics over
screen time, digital addiction and techno-dystopia. On balance, most parents see digital technology as an opportunity rather than a threat. If you are looking for practical guidelines for managing your child’s digital wellbeing, then this is not the book for you. On the contrary, the authors do a good job of dismissing one-size-ﬁts-all rules, including the defunct ‘two-by-two’ mantra (no screens until age two, then no more than two hours a day). It also debunks pernicious myths around digital technology being genuinely addictive or having deleterious effects on children’s wellbeing. Instead, the book offers practical and positive recommendations for organisations and businesses, urging them to engage with parents and co-create better family-oriented solutions for improving digital literacy and inclusive digital access and support. For psychologists, there are two particularly interesting insights into how we might think about digital technology in family life today. First, parents’ hopes and fears about technology may be shaping children’s lives as much as the technology itself. Airing and addressing parents’
aspirations and anxieties around technology may be a useful ﬁrst step to remedying digital problems and conﬂicts at home. Second, whilst digital activity – especially screen time – may seem to be a source of strife for many families today, this may be a symptom of underlying frustrations, worries and stress that have deeper socio-economic causes. The authors suggest that family ﬂashpoints around digital technology can be a proxy for expressing hardto-talk-about and hard-to-articulate issues around ﬁnancial insecurity, social change and inequalities. The lesson here is to probe deeper than surface symptoms that scapegoat and demonise technology, and instead look for underlying causes. Digital technology is like any other technology – it’s either a beneﬁt or a hazard. Parenting for a Digital Future shows it can be both. But most of all, this book offers a hopeful, inclusive and human-centric vision of a digital future where all parents are empowered by technology to help their children thrive. Reviewed by Dr Paul Marsden (CPsychol) digitalwellbeing.org
Parenting for a Digital Future: How Hopes and Fears about Technology Shape Children’s Lives Sonia Livingstone & Alicia Blum-Ross Oxford University Press
the psychologist february 2021 books
Demystifying learning The ‘BrainCanDo’ Handbook of Teaching and Learning: Practical Strategies to Bring Psychology and Neuroscience into the Classroom, published by Routledge, is out now. Our Deputy Editor Annie Brookman-Byrne contributed to the book, and asked the editors Julia Harrington, Jonathan Beale, Amy Fancourt and Catherine Lutz about the motivation behind it. Tell us about BrainCanDo and how the book came about. ‘BrainCanDo’ is an educational neuroscience and psychology research centre based at Queen Anne’s School, Caversham. We take an evidence-informed approach towards improving teaching and learning by conducting research in collaboration with university experts and applying research in the classroom. For the past seven years, we’ve been working with schools, educationalists and academic researchers on research projects related to learning and pupil well-being. Now seemed a good opportunity to draw some of our research together into a comprehensive book, useful and accessible for those working in education and those carrying out educational research. Do you think it’s helpful for educators to understand the science behind learning? Yes, we think that there’s still a lot of mystery around teaching and what makes a ‘good teacher’ or a ‘good lesson’. An understanding of the science of learning can help to demystify the learning process and unveil some of the reasons why certain practices may be beneﬁcial for teachers and for learners. It’s our hope that by de-mystifying the learning process, there can be a move away from the notion that we can label some teachers, pupils, classes, year groups or schools simply ‘good’ or ‘bad’. An understanding of the complexities surrounding the learning process and the role of cognitive, social and emotional factors in that process can help to inform the day-to-day decisions a teacher makes in the classroom alongside the wider decisions around curriculum design and school-wide policies and practices. This two-pronged approach to embedding a culture of evidence-informed practice has the potential to maximise learning opportunities for all pupils in a variety of different educational settings. In Michael Thomas’s foreword, he praises the ‘culture of research’ in education encouraged by the book. Do you think it’s possible for this culture to be embedded in schools? Yes, we believe that it’s a conscious decision of educators and the institutions to which they belong to engage meaningfully with research. Crucially, schools need to prioritise professional staff development opportunities, creating the time and space needed for teachers to engage with research evidence, conduct their own action research and share good practice with one another. We believe that vital to the success of fostering a culture of research in schools is to demonstrate the beneﬁts of evidence-
informed teaching and learning, but to present this as a valuable option for teachers to try in their practice, rather than prescribing it as something that all teachers should do. A way to do this is to present staff with clear examples of how applying research in the classroom can have pedagogical beneﬁts, using examples from teachers’ experiences and case studies in schools. What’s the biggest challenge for educational neuroscience? There are many challenges facing this movement. Its biggest challenge is, perhaps, crossing the bridge between theory and practice – that is, bridging the gap between neuroscience and psychology, on the one hand, and the practical application of ﬁndings from those ﬁelds in education, on the other. Relatedly, another major challenge concerns language and the translation of concepts and methodologies from these disciplines into education. It’s not always clear or directly apparent how scientiﬁc research can be applied in day-to-day classroom practices. At BrainCanDo, we do our best to carefully cross the bridge between theory and practice, by trying to provide clear links between scientiﬁc evidence and educational applications, and offering practical guidance of how to apply particular ﬁndings emerging from scientiﬁc studies. What’s your vision for the future of education? We’d like to see better and increased collaboration between educational researchers and schools, such that educational practices and policy decisions – for example, those made by the Department for Education – are better informed by rigorous research. We’d also like to see a greater application of research in schools on important areas related to education and student well-being – for example, research on memory, sleep, motivation and social development – such that learning outcomes and student well-being improve. While schools need to be the drivers of such developments, the responsibilities to engage more closely with research in education should certainly neither solely nor primarily fall upon schools. We’d like to see an increased emphasis on engaging with research-based pedagogy during teacher training courses and increased engagement between educational organisations and schools. Full disclosure: the book contains a chapter co-written by our Deputy Editor, Dr Annie Brookman-Byrne.
Actions speak louder than words Emily Spencer-Parris watches virtual interdisciplinary dance performance, Feedback Loops
efore 2020, I never imagined I’d attend Malta’s Science in the City festival from the comfort of my own bedroom. The festival was held virtually, on Zoom, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The festival theme, ‘Engage, Empower, Enable’ never felt so apt for this year and after watching the performance, ‘Feedback Loops’ I truly felt empowered and engaged. This interdisciplinary performance, combining the worlds of science and art, was danced by Anna Spink, and was based on the research study RADAR-CNS that is jointly led by King’s College London and Janssen Pharmaceutica NV. The study investigates how wearable medical devices (think Fitbit!) can track symptoms and
help prevent depression, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. For instance, the device may enable an individual to notice if they are slipping back into depressive tendencies, or for someone with epilepsy, the device may warn them that they are about to experience seizures. The aim is for the device to break the loop! This is all done through tracking the person’s biological data, such as heart rate and sweat rate. How is all this shown through a dance performance? The producer and leader of ‘Feedback Loops’ is Alina Ivan, whose creative vision enabled the worlds of science, psychology, dance and music to come together to present this breath-taking performance. Anna wore the
the psychologist february 2021 culture
Finding light in the darkness medical device used in this study, while dancing in a contemporary style. Although it appeared like Anna was dancing to the music (as you would expect), this was not the case. Anna was actually generating the music through her biological data; creating the pitch, speed and texture through the movement of her own body, which highlights how the device effortlessly obtains information from the individual who is wearing it. Furthermore, the fast-paced music and sharp dance movements allowed Anna to create her own world, in terms of expressed movement and also the musical sounds these created, making this a unique and powerful experience for the audience. For an individual who is experiencing conditions such as depression, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, it can be hard to explain and communicate with others how these experiences can make you feel. Indeed, as Alina says perfectly ‘the conditions can be invisible and misunderstood’. As a psychology student and a dancer, I have always had an understanding of how the mind and body are connected and how we can express our emotions and feelings through dance. I feel that ‘Feedback Loops’ portrayed this beautifully by interpreting depression, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis through dance movements. It enabled communication through movements, rather than words, and this form of communication can be understood universally, no matter what language you speak. What was particularly poignant for me was the active involvement of the research participants, with Anna tapping into their experiences to help choreograph her dance performance. Quotes from participants were also presented on screen, for example, one read: ‘due to high stress and exhaustion my body shut down’, alongside this quote Anna was moving on the ﬂoor with heavy movements creating a push and pull effect; this represented the individual ﬁghting against themselves and their depression, showing the minimal effort that they had due to exhaustion. The medical device used in this study could have some clinical and practical implications in the world of psychology. While the device is very expensive, it is currently used in some hospitals to track epilepsy. This medical device could also be used outside of hospital settings to help individuals break the loop and spot the signs before their condition worsens. I feel ‘Feedback Loops’ blended the bridge between science and art, and this especially works seamlessly between psychology and dance. Dance is more than just movements, it is about creating character through body movements, stillness, gestures and facial expressions, which in turn creates feelings and emotions. I hope that the involvement of art and science can shape future projects. Reviewed by Emily Spencer-Parris, MSc Applied Clinical Psychology student, University of Central Lancashire. Twitter: @esp_psych
In many ways, the year 2020 forced us to pause and reﬂect on own lives, yet at the same time we needed to adapt and evolve along the way. On the surface this ‘online art installation’ appears to be a collection of photos with meaningful quotes, but what lies beneath is a deeply sincere and emotional tale that tugs on heartstrings. Each exhibit is a raw reﬂection of individual experiences and a reﬂection of the effect that Covid-19 has had on them. The NHS and Arts Council support this gallery, and it is rich in tales from multiple NHS staff from different departments and levels. There are some accounts of viewpoints from other keyworkers, but perhaps there was also space to include greater variation. The exhibition allows you to select a story and what draws you there is completely unique, very much replicating behaviours anticipated at a physical gallery. As time went on, I found myself withdrawing from stories from medical staff and being drawn to those within communities. Kate’s picture caught my attention and I easily related to her story, but it was Claire’s story that made my emotions spill over, as I learned how she supported others with their loss yet still had the strength to ﬁnd positives when describing the emotions and minimalism inﬂicted on her and her family around her own mother’s funeral. This gallery allows you to see beyond the headlines, beyond the data and beyond the sensationalised stories that can so often be shared. It presents a simple truth. Hearing a voice tell a personal story made it real, no arguments… you cannot miss this raw emotion. Reading of how others have found light in dark situations and managed the disproportionate effect that the pandemic has – connecting with those emotions – can only bring beneﬁt. You do not need to be brave nor hide your own story; we all have one. It’s worth viewing the gallery again and again. No two days will feel the same and no two stories will have the same impact, but there’s something there for everyone to connect with. Let this gallery take you to a different head space and allow it to be the voice you need to talk to or the image that hears your voice. Find out more via https://fromwhereiamstanding. empathymuseum.com Reviewed by Lisa O’Reilly, Head of SEND at an Independent Preparatory School. Twitter: @L_Jeanie21
exhibition From where I’m standing Empathy Museum
‘Things were now differently different’ ﬁlm A different kind of different kindofdifferent. org
A Different Kind of Different, an animated short ﬁlm by Jordan Baseman, charts the psychological impact of breast cancer. Reﬂecting on the initial ordeal of loss, the ﬁlm reveals a journey to acceptance via the liberation of mastectomy tattoos. The ﬁlm is written by artist Baseman with writer Sally O’Reilly, and mainly funded by a Public Engagement Award from Wellcome. Dr Becky Coles-Gale, a Clinical Health Psychologist who works across Major Trauma and Critical Care Services for the NHS in East Sussex, played a signiﬁcant role in the development of the script. We heard from her about the ﬁlm. When Jordan and I met, I shared with him the themes I had heard from my clinical work in this area. This related to a role I had held for several years supporting women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, had received treatment or were making treatment decisions and/ or were trying to make sense of how/ what life looked like for them now. What often seemed important in the therapy conversations was the existential idea that things were now ‘differently different’. Here women shared with me all the factors that were informing their sense of difference: their prior relationship to their sense of self, and their body and importantly the prior relationship to their breasts. It’s the meaning of these aspects that seemed to often inform the sense of loss, grief, and the existential questions of facing our own mortality, expectations of our body and what it means ‘to be me’. Women shared the multiple losses they were trying to make sense of, especially following treatment – changes to hair, skin, nails, energy levels, concentration ability, neuropathic pain, shifting emotions, changeable sleep patterns and as Alicia says in the ﬁlm, what it means to be propelled into a ‘medical menopause’. Another strong theme in the conversations I found often tended to cluster about ‘ownership’ of the body. Following the discovery of symptoms and the start of diagnostic tests, women often spoke of their sense essentially of losing ownership of their bodies, as they got poked and prodded by clinicians – their body became ‘unbound’. They described sharing intimate areas of their bodies with clinicians who are strangers – in the hope of a
Still from A Different Kind of Different ‘I want birds....and ribbons....and a sun’ Copyright Jordan Baseman Courtesy Matt’s Gallery
diagnosis and positive prognosis. Women spoke of having an altered relationship to their body as the ‘normal’ boundaries of our personal space and skin shifted. In the ﬁlm, I feel Alicia speaks really clearly about ‘reclaiming her ownership over her body’ through her transformation; and this was often a key part of therapy – bearing witness to a woman rebuilding her relationship to her body and a key part of that process was reclaiming ownership over her body. The other signiﬁcant theme I heard in my work, which I shared with Jordan for the ﬁlm, related to the expectations of family, friends, colleagues and society in general. For some maybe this maybe reﬂects what ‘it means to be a woman’ – the ‘uni-boob’, the expectation to be ‘symmetrical’. Some of the women shared how their different kind of different (treatment and reconstruction decision making) was informed by what they heard other people ‘wanted for them’, and part of the therapy conversation was to be curious about the idea of what might be right for other people, what might be okay for the ourselves and how to manage when these two things might be different. The 13-minute ﬁlm launches in early 2021 with online events, before touring UK venues later in the year. See www.kindofdifferent.org.
Acceptable loss ﬁlm County Lines www2.bﬁ.org. uk/whats-on/bﬁﬁlm-releases/ county-lines 66
This ﬁlm debut by writer/director Henry Blake, based on his experience as a youth worker in East London, is a compelling look at the realities of ‘county lines’ drug trafﬁcking. It introduces the brilliant Conrad Khan as 14-year-old Tyler, bullied at school and burdened with responsibility for his younger sister, while his mother
Toni (Ashley Madekwe) works as a night cleaner. Following Toni’s dismissal from her job, Tyler’s life combusts when he meets dealer Simon (Harris Dickinson), who grooms Tyler into his dubious line of business. A snapshot of the innercity poverty experienced by too many families living in the UK, the ﬁlm
portrays the ease with which the most vulnerable among us can fall foul of our morals and ethics, when survival is at stake. Read the full review by Joh Foster, Organisational Psychologist and Change Specialist, on our website
the psychologist february 2021 culture
A treat for the senses This is Sunday evening period drama unlike no other. Director Steve McQueen’s latest work is a series of ﬁve standalone ﬁlms portraying the black British experience. Each ﬁlm tells an important nugget of untold social history from the Seventies and Eighties: The Mangrove nine, a blues house party in west London, Leroy Logan’s early career in the Metropolitan Police, Alex Wheatle’s transition from social care to independence, and a ﬁght against an unofﬁcial segregation policy within schools. The direction is as we would expect from McQueen, interestingly framed throughout. The ﬁlms feel fresh from the energy of the actors who, aside from John Boyega, are mostly unknown faces to us. Another outstanding performance comes from the locations: each place hugs us with its familiarity. We can guess why each family has found itself in this place in society, choosing homes from the faded grandeur of the battered stucco terraces of Notting Hill to aspirational pebble-dashed 1930s semis. The period architecture tells us so much, where institutional buildings look like they are projecting from the space-age, yet square boxshaped vehicles are still modelled on horse-drawn carriages. Each ﬁlm is brought alive by realism. There’s no overplayed acting, no witty lines of dialogue to repeat around the virtual water cooler on Monday. What we’re being shown is authenticity. The way that the camera stays on faces for longer that we’re used to in television gives us time to empathise and read the micro-emotions contained within them. Kingsley slowly submerges his face in the bathtub – twice – and we
tv Small Axe BBC
know not just what that sensation feels like, but his reason for doing it. The narrative doesn’t deliver clever plot twists or give us take-away moral messages, it shows us what happened, and leaves us to make our own minds up. In this way, the crossover into art becomes apparent. The message contained in these ﬁlms is personal to the viewer. Every object has its own backstory, each set is crammed with evocative artefacts. We already have an intimate knowledge of all these things, triggering half-forgotten autobiographical memories. The touch of burgundy ﬂock wallpaper, the thick layer of magnolia/nicotinecoloured gloss paint on a staircase
Above Lovers Rock, right Red, White and Blue
Reviews online: Find more at www.thepsychologist.org.uk/reviews: Harry Clark on Relic Drusilla Joseph watches The Undoing on Sky Atlantic Tuğçe Koca reviews the ﬁrst season of Turkish drama series Ethos on Netﬂix Fatema Bangee watches Soul on Disney+
bannister, and the transparent vinyl plastic cover of a too-good-to-getdirty settee. The smell of curry being made in the morning, sitting in the passenger seat next to the Feu Orange freshener, the briefest mention of ‘Brut 33’, and we’re right there on the set. Music plays a massive part of the feel of each story, and the ability of songs to trigger snapshot memories of a time and place is already well-documented. Sufﬁce to say that the music is excellent. One standout scene captured intimate human moments on the house party danceﬂoor, a brush of skin, people transcending their inhibitions, and in a complementary reversal, the sound of ‘Silly Games’ brings the ladies and lovers closer together, whilst the ﬁght tune ‘Kunta Kinte Dub’ draws out male solidarity to pound out beats together. The accents are also wonderful, and the way characters switch between British and patois for emphasis, adds another layer of meaning for us. The social context of use of dialect adds to the richness of the soundscape and our understanding. It’s interesting how West Indian cultural elements are brought to life sonically, through music and accent, and the British elements of their lives are embedded in the physicality of objects and buildings of the character’s lives. Whilst being classiﬁed as a period drama, it’s so close to living memory that we still can engage with these ﬁlms on a sentient level, and it’s a joy to do so. By the end of each episode, I’ve constructed a story that’s a personal mix of my own memories and senses, driven along by the narrative and the characters that I’ve encountered, and created a new pleasurable and empathetic experience. It’s been so vivid that I’m anxious that I’ve created a false memory of being there, or that I will see myself in a future episode. Aside from these concerns, the experience comes highly recommended. Reviewed by Hannah Piekarz, PhD student at the University of Reading
the psychologist february 2021 looking back
The harmonic healing houses of Turkey
Asude Uçal revisits the Darüsiffas
arüsiffa means ‘the healing house’ (Benek et al., 2015). Divriɦi Great Mosque and Hospital was one of the ﬁrst and ﬁnest examples of a Darüsiffa, built in the time of Anatolian Seljuks in the 13th century and then reinforced in the Ottoman Empire era (Erdal & ErbaĜ, 2013). The culture of both the Ottoman Empire and the Anatolian Seljuks were steeped in religion, and so this institution was a Darüsiffa adjacent to a mosque. Mental health problems were treated in the Darüsiffas and prayers were completed in the mosques. The buildings and the treatment methods of the time included a lot of religious components, with motifs carved into the buildings to demonstrate devotion to God. Although several factors made these institutions different from an average building, the architecture was, without a doubt, the most valuable. One of the most fascinating components at Divriɦi was its ‘Western Portal’, also known as the ‘Textile Portal’ as it was embroidered like lace. Two columns that were situated on the right and the left sides were said to be turning according to the arrows on them (after the 1939 earthquake, they stopped turning). It is reported that, between May and September, just 45 minutes before the noon prayer, the turning movement of these columns created a silhouette of a praying man reading the Quran on the portal [pictured, far left]. How such architecture led to the creation of this silhouette is still not fully known, but it led this health facility to be taken under the World Heritage List by the United Nations Educational, Scientiﬁc and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (Benek et al., 2015). Most of the Darüsiffas were situated just near the mosques and were used as places of education in the Ottoman Empire. Music and the sound of nature were used as a treatment, mostly for mental health patients. As the respected scientists of the time, such as Ibn-i Sina and Farabi, believed in the serenity and calmness of running water, these buildings would be positioned in nature. An average Darüsiffa was a building among gardens and orchards, and they would contain a pool and a running fountain in their courtyards for patients to see and hear. Inside of the Darüsiffas were patient rooms in the sides of the building, which was
constructed to create the best echo and to convey the sounds in higher performance (Erdal & Erba̫, 2013). It is said that almost every patient was able to hear the running fountain from their room. Makam and more As such a valued facility for both the world and Turkey itself, the facility still bears an immense value for Turkish health workers. Professionals can turn back time and explore the effective treatment methods of their history. Although the Darüsiffas had different treatment methods depending on the facility, the most wellknown method was the use of sounds and music. They were considered a strategic tool, with particular sounds and instruments administered to patients at a particular time of day. Knowing when to use an instrument required previous experience (Erdal & Erba̫, 2013). Suﬁe and Sidik (2017) contributed to this notion and stated that these various types of music had their own functions – called ‘makam’. It was believed that each makam had a different inﬂuence on the patient’s condition and emotions. For example, while ‘Ussakmakam’ could make the patients laugh, ‘Zirgulemakam’ would induce sleepiness. It was believed that if the makam was not used at the proper time, it would not beneﬁt the patient… the speciﬁed period of time for each makam was different. If one was supposed to use the Ussakmakam, for example, the most beneﬁcial time would be midday. Another distinction was made between the instruments by their purpose. For instance, a lute (Ud) and a bamboo ﬂute (Nay) were considered to be the primary instruments of a therapy session. Without these two instruments a session wouldn’t be considered complete. They also represented a symbolic value. According to Suﬁe and Sidik (2017), the bamboo ﬂute was a representation of the human psyche and each string in an old-type lute would represent the four main elements of nature; ﬁre, water, air and earth. The delicate balance of the sound and the human mind was emphasised and the interconnectedness of that relation was greatly cherished. The power of these instruments for an effective therapy session was
acknowledged by the health workers and it was a strict principle to not use one tune to treat every health condition. For instance, the tune named ‘tune Büzürg’ means ‘Great’ in Persian and it was believed to clear the mind and guide one’s thoughts. It was believed to help with anxiety and fear when it was used after the night prayers (Erdal & Erba̫, 2013). Another, named ‘tune U̫̫ak’ was believed to help induce sleepiness in children when it was used at noon (Erdal & Erba̫, 2013).
Complex of Sultan Bayezid Another well-known Darüsiffa is the Complex of Sultan Bayezid II in Edirne, Turkey (again, included on UNESCO’s list). The construction was made by the Ottoman Empire, and although the facility no longer operates as Key sources it is supposed to, it is currently serving as a health museum for the community. As the common Benek, B.S., Sakar, H., Bayram, R. & feature of Darüsiffas, this institution Gumustekin, K. (2015). An example for has been known to use running the application of music therapy in the medical history: Divrigi Darüssifa. Acta water sounds, music and pleasant Medica Anatolia, 3(2), 63–66. fragrances. Erdal, G. & Erbaş, İ. (2013). Darüşşifas According to UNESCO, the where music therapy practiced during Complex of Sultan Bayezid II was a anatolian Seljuks and Ottomans. medical centre that used a ‘Holistic Journal of History Culture and Art Medicine’ understanding in its Research, 2(1), 1–20. Haberler. (2007). Hastanede Ağrı Darüsiffa. Every little detail that had Tedavisi Gören Hastalara ‘Müzik the potential of affecting a patient’s Terapisi’. https://www.haberler.com/ mood was taken into consideration. hastanede-agri-tedavisi-gorenThe sounds, the lighting details, hastalara-muzik-haberi/ even the meals that patients ate, Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture were planned meticulously. The and Tourism. (n.d.). Edirne - Complex of Sultan Bayezid Health Museum. https:// souls of the patients were thought kvmgm.ktb.gov.tr/TR-44003/edirneto be fed and cleansed from illness --sultan-ii-bayezid-kulliyesi-saglikwith the help of music (Erdal & muzesi.html Erba̫, 2013). The approach of Suﬁe, S.N.M. & Sidik, R. (2017). What the treatment was focused on the is medical music therapy in islamic manner of uniting ‘the body and civilization? International Journal of Business and Social Science, 8(3), the soul’ in Darüsiffas (UNESCO, 195–199. 2016). The Government of Edirne. (n.d.). The music therapy was Complex of Sultan Bayezid Health conducted by ten assigned ofﬁcials Museum. http://www.edirne.gov.tr/ that were responsible for playing sultan-ii-bayezid-kulliyesi-saglikmusic in the courtyards, three muzesi TUMATA. (n.d.). Baksı Dance. https:// times every week (Republic of tumata.com/muzik-terapi/baksi-dansi/ Turkey Ministry of Culture and Ucaner, B. & Oztürk, B. (2009). Tourism, n.d.). Musicians used Türkiye’de ve dünyada müzikle tedavi different tunes to address different uygulamaları. Uluslararasi Egitim health conditions and it was stated Arastirma Kongresi, 1–13. that even patients in the worst UNESCO. (2016, April 16). Sultan Bayezid II Complex: A Center of Medical conditions would relax under the Treatment. https://whc.unesco.org/en/ inﬂuence of stringed instruments tentativelists/6117/ (Erdal & Erba̫, 2013). The Yılmaz, B. & Can, Ü.K. (2019). Türkiye’de treatment was free in the Darüsiffas müzik terapi uygulamalarında and the institution would send kullanılan müzikler. International Journal medications to the public without of Society Researchers. 13(19), 594–620. any cost.
Asude Uçal is a third-year psychology student from Istanbul, Turkey. email@example.com
Solid foundations As the demands of the modern world increased, Darüsiffas lost their convenience and are, unfortunately, no longer active. This situation has led these institutions to be turned into educational museums or protected as the national heritages of the country. While Darüsiffas were places of mental treatment, they were also hospitals that provided valuable learning opportunities for medical students of the time. With this in mind, the methods used in the 13th century still bear immense value as a pioneering roadmap for the music therapy of today’s Turkey. While no institutions operate as Darüsiffas, there are foundations promoting music therapy in Turkey. The Group for the Research and Promotion of Turkish Music (TUMATA), Music Therapy Application and Research Center (MÜTEM), and the Music Therapy Association (MUZTED), aim to strengthen the use of music therapy in Turkey and to protect this culture, as they are the few examples of such institutions (Yılmaz & Can, 2019). Music therapy is still practiced in Turkey. One session conducted with the collaboration of TUMATA works with adolescents and children that have autism spectrum disorder and patients who experience pain. The music therapy session consists of two parts as the active and the passive music. In the active part, the session consists of Turkish instruments and the ‘Baksı dance’. The participants are expected to move their limbs in improvised ways as though they are living a moment of trance as a part of this dance. The passive part of the session, on the other hand, has aligned features of a treatment session in Darüsiffas. This time, participants are expected to lie down, relax, and listen to the Turkish music. The music includes the lute, the bamboo ﬂute and the sound of running water (Ucaner & Oztürk, 2009). The founder of the TUMATA, Dr Rahmi Oruc Guvenc, believes that the way we experience or manage pain mainly depends on the perceptions we have of it, and that music has a key role to play. Perhaps it’s time we revisited the harmonic healing houses of Turkey…
We dip into the society member database and pick out… Dr Tendayi Viki, Associate Partner at Strategyzer, a Swiss consultancy ﬁrm One thing about my job I spend a lot of time helping companies work through the ‘paradox of success’ – the moment you become successful the seed for your future failure has been planted. Bill Gates once remarked that success is a lousy teacher because it convinces smart people that they cannot fail. So my work speaks to the psychology of complacency. Trying to convince business leaders that they need to worry about the future can be a tough conversation to have when their bonus might be ten times my annual income! The management of current success is the Achilles heel for innovation in large companies. The interesting and challenging part of my job is to help leaders build management systems that allow them to both manage their current business and explore future opportunities. One book Originals by Adam Grant. Leaders cannot pick the winning ideas on day one; according to Grant, the best way to have good ideas is to have a lot of ideas. He describes how people are familiar with a handful of plays from Shakespeare and a few classical songs from Mozart. However, these creative geniuses wrote hundreds of songs, plays and sonnets. The research in this book shows that if companies want to drive innovative behaviour, they have to create a space in which they make multiple small bets, see what gains traction and then double down investment in that.
One thing I’d change The pervasive view that Africa needs charitable help to succeed. I am from Zimbabwe, and I truly believe that entrepreneurship and innovation from large companies will be what brings Africa out of poverty. The only thing we need are business leaders that are not only
one on one
interested in the success of their companies but in improving the ecosystem in which their businesses operate. This involves investing in smaller companies and helping to build the infrastructure for business to succeed. Such an approach would unlock the inventiveness and creativity of the African people.
One inspiration I am fascinated by athletes who reach the peaks of their careers but remain motivated to keep getting better. How do they not become complacent? What drives people like Sir Alex Ferguson to keep going even when they have accomplished so much? The answers can help with some of the questions I try to address with successful large organisations. I also use this as inspiration for myself. I try my best not to get caught up in the success of my books or any innovation awards I win. I constantly ask myself, how can I get better? One proud moment This one is a strange question to answer given my last response! But one was when my ﬁrst book, The Corporate Startup, was awarded the 2018 Management Book of the Year Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship by the Chartered Management Institute. It felt like an arrival of sorts. The journey had been long to get there and the reward felt really good.
coming soon… we get ‘lost’; plus all our usual news, views, reviews, interviews, and much more... contribute… reach 50,000 colleagues, with something to suit all. See www.thepsychologist.org.uk/ contribute or talk to the editor, Dr Jon Sutton, firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 116 252 9573 comment… email the editor, the Leicester ofﬁce, or tweet @psychmag to advertise… reach a large and professional audience at bargain rates: see details on inside front cover maybe you missed… …February 2017, Kate Sweeny, ‘The downsides of positivity’ …Search it and so much more via www.bps.org.uk/thepsychologist
One psychological superpower The ability to not take negative feedback personally. My work is at the cutting edge, so I always face resistance. Sometimes this can degenerate into negative criticisms and personal attacks. However, people have every right to disbelieve and challenge my ideas. Not only is this good for me in terms of humility, it also helps me sharpen my craft. One thing about the BPS I am proud to be a Chartered Member. The BPS does good work advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. But what is most impressive is the focus on how research can be applied to improve people’s lives; consider the recent work on how people can move from poverty to ﬂourishing, or cope with Covid-19.
psychologist february 2017
The downsides of positivity Kate Sweeny provides a nuanced picture
Society Trustees www.bps.org.uk/about-us/ who-we-are
Find out more online at www.bps.org.uk
President Dr Hazel McLaughlin President Elect Dr Nigel MacLennan Vice President David Murphy Honorary General Secretary Dr Carole Allan Honorary Treasurer Dr Roxane Gervais Chair, Education and Training Board Vacant Chair, Practice Board Alison Clarke Chair, Membership Board Professor Carol McGuinness Chair, Research Board Professor Daryl O’Connor Trustees Chris Lynch, Dr Esther Cohen-Tovee, Christina Buxton, Dr Adam Jowett
Chief Executive Sarb Bajwa
society notices Donate to our Presidential Development Fund See p.7 Early career conference bursary scheme See p.22 BPS conferences and events See p.29 The Presidents’ Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychological Knowledge See p.62 Lifetime Achievement Award See p.62
society vacancies Call for nominations: President 2022-23 See p.8 Practice Board members See p.71
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The Society has ofﬁces in Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow and London, as well as the main ofﬁce in Leicester (St Andrews House, 48 Princess Road East, Leicester, LE1 7DR).