Why be in the BPS? Is it too expensive or redundant?

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Why be in the BPS? Is it too expensive or redundant?

Post by miriam » Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:28 pm

At the moment I'm a member of the BPS, and within that the Division of Clinical Psychology and the Child Faculty. I like it and consider it to be a generally good thing to be part of, and worth what I pay them (and now I have a practise certificate, a couple of journals, an entry in the register, etc, I probably pay a couple of hundred quid a year). However, I do think the situation is currently evolving, and that they might not be as relevant once the statutory regulatory role moves to the Health Professions Council.

Let me try and explain some of the reasons why I've been a member until now:

Firstly the BPS keeps the register of chartered clinical psychologists. I think there should be statutory registration as a form of quality control, and [even though this is controversial] I believe that the NHS should not employ people who are not chartered. This would mean we all have agreed standards of professionalism and accountability and clients can be confident using us (just as you would not want a doctor who had been kicked out of the Royal College of Medicine). At the moment this picture is blurred because not all good psychologists are members, but there is progress towards statutory registration and then I hope that all reputable psychologists would join. Because that would protect us and the public from the people who do not meet those high standards (and you'd be surprised how many people act beyond their competence, or have been expelled for malpractise but can still get jobs). However, this role was superceded by the HPC in April 2008.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. However, the BPS represents 45,000 members, of whom less than 15,000 are chartered, and 5,500 are Chartered Clinical Psychologists, so there is a question about whether they truly represent our interests as clinicians.

Thirdly they have lots of useful divisions, and local networks, and conferences, and good practise guidelines, and publications, and agreed deals for professional practise insurance (which I would recommend from as soon as you qualify).

We do need a professional body, and at the moment there is not an alternative to the BPS to meet that need. 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 - but that isn't enough of a reason not to join. The main problem is that as regulation moves to the HPC, the BPS becomes partially redundant in its role for our profession, and some might say it becomes 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).

However we do need a body that is representative of Clinical Psychology and allows us to network, arrange training events, and speak for us in national issues. This may not be something that continues to be possible for the BPS, so we either need to shape the direction of the BPS to become what we want from it, or the DCP needs to divorce the parents organisation, so that it only represents applied psychologists, or we need to develop another organisation for CPs.

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. There are some who feel a move towards something along the lines of the Royal Colleges used in medicine would be a good move for clinical psychology, which might be why the SIGs have become Faculties.....

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 HPC.

The way forward for the BPS?

Some people are uncomfortable about the BPS covering both academic and applied psychology. We also need a regulatory body, as most clinical psychologists feel that joining the Health Professions Council is a highly unsatisfactory way to maintain standards in our profession. There has been debate about whether we ought to have a "Royal College" style professional body, and the "Faculties" suggest we are moving in this direction. 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?

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Content checked by qualified Clinical Psychologist on DATE and checked/edited by ell (moderator) on 01/03/12
Last modified on 01/03/12

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