The pros and cons of joining the BPS or ACP-UK

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miriam
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The pros and cons of joining the BPS or ACP-UK

Post by miriam »

I definitely believe in the value of a body that is representative of Clinical Psychology and allows us to network, arrange training events, and speak for us in national issues. I used to think that was the BPS, but over recent years I have changed my mind.

For nearly 20 years I was a member of the BPS, and within that the Division of Clinical Psychology and the Child Faculty. I liked it and considered it to be a generally good thing to be part of, and worth what I pay them (and with the practise certificate, a couple of journals, an entry in the register, etc, I probably paid around three hundred quid a year). However, I left the BPS in early 2020. This was because I felt they had failed to address numerous issues about regulation, "celebrity psychologists", the consultation about prescribing rights and ensuring psychologists have a voice in the media. I do think the situation is currently evolving, and there are changes afoot in the society that may or may not address those concerns. But in the meanwhile I am a member of the ACP-UK (Association of Clinical Psychologists) along with over 1000 other qualified CPs, as I feel they are more responsive and care more about the ethical and regulatory issues that concern me. Part of what has changed over my career is the shift from the BPS regulating psychologists to the statutory regulation role of the Health and Care Professions Council. This means that BPS membership is not required to show you have validated professional qualifications.

Let me try and explain some of the reasons why I used to be a BPS member, along with some of my reservations:

Firstly the BPS used to keep the register of chartered clinical psychologists. However, this role was superceded by the HPC in April 2008.

Secondly the BPS speaks for psychology. It offers a represention for us in negotiations, and governement policies, and all sorts of issues where psychology should have a say. It can also be a point of contact for the media, to find someone suitably qualified to comment on an issue. There are a lot of things that the BPS does you would not be aware of, but are helping us as psychologists - responding to policy documents and trying to advance the public understanding of the science. However, the BPS represents 45,000 members, of whom less than 15,000 are chartered, and only 5,500 are Chartered Clinical Psychologists, so there is a question about whether they truly represent our interests as clinicians. However there are advantages to being the whole BPS as well as disadvantages. For starters there is a weight of numbers. Second there is the link between theory and practise - we are supposed to be scientist practitioners using evidence based practise - and many people have split posts, or have some academic or research component (even if its only doing a day of teaching per year on the local clinical training course). So would it really be wise to separate academic and applied psychology?

Thirdly, on a similar note, they have lots of useful divisions, and local networks, and conferences, and good practise guidelines, and publications. However, the challenge is that we are now a 'family of psychology professions': the qualified psychologists who practise with clients are quite a diverse group themselves, including educational psychologists, clinical, counselling and others. The BPS tries to speak for all of those groups, but they have different perspectives and whilst the silo structure of faculties within the BPS means that we have a more unified identity within each practitioner category, they aren't encouraged to form unified positions and often publish contradictory opinions. Plus, whilst the more specialised networks are helpful to clinicians, the central organisation doesn't always act in a way that makes these useful member organisations able to work effectively - for example, expecting most of the work to be done by volunteers, even though the BPS has hoarded millions of pounds of membership fees.

So, yes, it is too expensive if you are more than 3 years graduated and not eligible for discounted membership - although as people have pointed out all professional expenses are offsetable against tax if you can be bothered - and there are various concerns about the structure and functioning of the BPS, but there may also be good reasons to join, especially if you attend a lot of their events.

The main problem is that since regulation has moved to the HPC, the BPS became partially redundant in its role for our profession, and some might say it became nothing more than a cumbersome dead weight attached to the DCP networks (which are more specific to the small proportion of the BPS that is relevant to applied psychologists, rather than students of academics).

What is the impact of Statutory Registration?

The purpose of Statutory Registration is evident. Before this came into force you didn't have to be chartered or registered to practise. This meant that those who have been struck off and reprimanded etc could easily not disclose this when seeking other jobs, which meant our code of conduct and disciplinary procedures had less bite. However, there is controversy about whether this role is best fulfilled by the HCPC, and I would strongly argue that limiting the scope of regulation to 7 practitioner categories doesn't protect the public from all the other people who claim to be psychologists or to offer psychological services.

Is the ACP-UK the solution

We do need a professional body, and there are good people gathering and working together to make the ACP-UK provide the best possible services for members, including events, webinars, networks and support systems. They have so far been more responsive, and more supportive to CPs willing to speak up in public forums or to the media, than the BPS have ever been. However, whilst the ACP-UK is starting to be a credible alternative, at the moment the BPS is the larger and better known organisation.

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Content checked by qualified Clinical Psychologist on 13/2/21
Last modified on 13/02/21
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com
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miriam
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Re: The pros and cons of joining the BPS or ACP-UK

Post by miriam »

I have been updating this wiki. If you have any suggestions of things to add or wish to suggest any changes, please feel free to comment below before I recompile the wiki.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com
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