|Type||Professional body, learned society, charity|
|Legal status||Non-profit company|
|Headquarters||St Andrews House, 48 Princess Road East, Leicester LE1 7DR|
Honorary General Secretary
The British Psychological Society (BPS) is a representative body for psychologists and psychology in the United Kingdom.
It was founded on 24 October 1901 at University College London (UCL) as The Psychological Society, the organisation initially admitted only recognised teachers in the field of psychology. The ten founder members were:
Its current name of The British Psychological Society was taken in 1906 to avoid confusion with another group named The Psychological Society. Under the guidance of Charles Myers, membership was opened up to members of the medical profession in 1919. In 1941 the society was incorporated.
The Society aims to raise standards of training and practice in psychology, raise public awareness of psychology, and increase the influence of psychology practice in society. Specifically it has a number of key aims, as described below.
The Society is both a learned and a professional body. As such it provides support and advice on research and practice issues. It is also a Registered Charity which imposes certain constraints on what it can and cannot do. For example, it cannot campaign on issues which are seen as party political. The BPS is not the statutory regulation body for Practitioner Psychologists in the UK which is the Health and Care Professions Council.
The Society has a large number of specialist and regional branches throughout the United Kingdom. It holds its Annual Conference, usually in May, in a different town or city each year. In addition, each of the sub-sections hold their own conferences and there is also a range of specialist meetings convened to consider relevant issues.
The Society is also a publishing body publishing a range of specialist journals, books and reports.
In 2019 the BPS had 60,604 members and subscribers, in all fields of psychology, 20,243 of whom were Chartered Members. There are a number of grades of members:
The following persons have been honorary members of the society:
In 1946 all surviving honorary members were made honorary fellows.
The following persons are or have been honorary fellows of the society:
Main category: British Psychological Society academic journals
The BPS publishes 11 journals:
Special Group in Coaching Psychology publications:
The Psychologist is a members' monthly magazine that has been published since 1988, superseding the BPS Bulletin.
Since 2003 the BPS has published reports on new psychology research in the form of a free fortnightly email, and since 2005, also in the form of an online blog – both are referred to as the BPS Research Digest. As of 2014, the BPS states that the email has over 32,000 subscribers and the Digest blog attracts hundreds of thousands of page views a month. In 2010 the Research Digest blog won "best psychology blog" in the inaugural Research Blogging Awards. The Research Digest has been written and edited by psychologist Christian Jarrett since its inception About usResearch into the mental health of prisoners, digested
The Society publishes a series of textbooks in collaboration with Wiley-Blackwell. These cover most of the core areas of psychology.
The British Psychological Society currently has ten divisions and nineteen sections. Divisions and sections differ in that the former are open to practitioners in a certain field of psychology, so professional and qualified psychologists only will be entitled to full membership of a division, whereas the latter are interest groups comprising members of the BPS who are interested in a particular academic aspect of psychology.
The divisions include:
The Division of Clinical Psychology is the largest division within the BPS – it is subdivided into thirteen faculties:
The Sections currently include:
|Cognitive Psychology||Formed in 1978 as a national forum for the discussion of research and issues of professional concern to cognitive psychologists. Activities include an Annual Conference, usually held in September started in 1984, one or more specialist events in the year and symposia at the main Society Conference in March/April. An award scheme started in 1992 with first award winner in 1993 Neil Burgess and Graham Hitch.|
|Community Psychology||Established in 2010, it aims to bring together psychologists and others who work to dismantle disabling societal barriers and construct psychologically enabling contexts and practices, address people's strengths and competencies as well as problems and difficulties, challenge the dominance of individually-focused models of psychosocial adjustment and psychological intervention
promote preventative interventions for health and well-being, raise awareness of socio-political and organisational issues affecting education, development and well-being and strive for social justice. Its members work in solidarity and mutual respect alongside people experiencing marginalisation, disempowerment and oppression.
|Consciousness and Experiential Psychology||Initiated in 1994 by Jane Henry, Max Velmans, John Pickering, Elizabeth Valentine and Richard Stevens, the section promoted and supported the reincorporation of consciousness studies into mainstream psychology. Official approval was announced in 1997. The section's mission is ‘to advance our understanding of consciousness, to bring scientific research on consciousness closer to other traditions of inquiry into the nature of mind, and to explore how this research can be used to improve the quality of life’. Every year in September the Section holds its annual conference, and smaller workshops and events at other times.|
|Crisis, Disaster and Trauma Psychology||Formed in 2013 with the goal of creating a 'centre of excellence' in which the concept of psychological trauma can be explored, evidence-based treatments examined, research findings shared and best practice established.|
|Developmental Psychology||Founded in 1972, the Developmental Section is one of the largest of the British Psychological Society's sections. It has a mission to promote high quality research into Developmental Psychology and generally to raise the profile of British developmental research in an international arena. These aims are pursued in various ways, including through the British Journal of Developmental Psychology. The Journal has a history covering seminal work on children's drawing, imagination, communication, attachment, reasoning, theory of mind, developmental disorders (including autism). The annual conference for the section is usually held in early September.|
|Cyberpsychology||The section exists to pursue and formalise a scientific understanding of the impact, dynamic processes and outcomes that democratised digital technologies have enabled in individuals, groups and the wider society. It promotes research into issues around gaming, social media, virtual reality, online learning and virtual interest groups, we hope to raise (and answer) questions about the motivations, experiences, and effects surrounding the interactions between humanity and technology.|
|Defence and Security Psychology|
|History and Philosophy of Psychology||This is an interdisciplinary section that brings together psychologists, historians and philosophers. It is interested in both the history of psychology and the philosophy of psychology. It is in the dialogue between the two that the most is to be gained in terms of looking back, assessing the present and moving forward.|
|Male Psychology||The Section aims to expand our understanding of the full diversity of the human condition on an inclusive basis by enriching our knowledge of men and boys alongside women and girls, both in their differences and in their common humanity.|
|Mathematical, Statistical and Computing||The primary aim of the Section is to provide an opportunity for those interested in mathematical (including computational), statistical (including quantitative and mixed methods approaches) and computing (including algorithmic, HCI and cyber-psych) related issues in psychology to exchange ideas and promote the discussion of these interests.|
|Psychobiology||The Psychobiology Section provides a forum for the discussion and professional issues for people with interests in the more biological aspects of psychology.|
|Psychology of Education||Its aims are to offer advice to the Society on matters related to psychological aspects of education and the training of teachers; to promote the study and discussion of psychology in education; to provide a forum for the discussion and exchange of ideas among those interested in the psychological aspects of education; and to stimulate research into matters related to the psychological aspects of education|
|Psychology of Sexualities||Established in 1998, as the Lesbian & Gay Psychology section, after nearly a decade of campaigning and three rejected proposals (two for a Psychology of Lesbianism Section and one for a Lesbian & Gay Psychology Section). Founding members of the section include Celia Kitzinger and Sue Wilkinson. In 2009, the section changed its name to the Psychology of Sexualities Section in recognition that the work and interests of its members also applied to bisexuality, queer identities and heterosexualities. The Section is for psychologists whose work is relevant to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) issues. It is open to all BPS members including both practitioner and academic psychologists. Although trans issues could more accurately be described as belonging to a psychology of gender, trans issues are typically included under the umbrella of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) psychology and is therefore aligned with the section's remit.
The section works with equivalent sections of other psychological organisations through the International Psychology Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Issues (IPsyNET). Members of the section have played an important role in drafting the BPS Guidelines and literature review for psychologists working therapeutically with sexual and gender minority clients; section members were also instrumental in drafting the Society's Position Statement on Therapies attempting to Change Sexual Orientation; a UK Consensus Statement on Conversion Therapy; and a Memorandum on Conversion Therapy in the UK. The section publishes Psychology of Sexualities Review (previously the Lesbian & Gay Psychology Review), organises events and training and awards prizes for achievement in the field.
|Psychology of Women and Equalities||Originally founded in 1988 as The Psychology of Women Section, the modern version of POWES works to encourage psychological research which challenges negative assumptions about minority groups and which challenges processes of exclusion, marginalisation and oppression in fields of study and practice, while also maintaining a strong inter-disciplinary focus, seeking to work and build inclusive alliances across disciplines. The main aims of the Psychology of Women and Equalities Section are to address gender issues and inequalities in the psychology curriculum; to facilitate and develop feminist and emancipatory research, theory and practice; and to influence public policy in areas such as equal rights, parenting, and employment.|
|Psychotherapy||The aims of the Section are to further psychological understanding of the personal, social and cultural issues involved in psychotherapy and to examine critically and elaborate their meanings for the psychology of human experience and conduct;to promote scientific investigation of psychotherapy which employs research paradigms appropriate to its subject matter; and to provide a forum for the discussion and exchange of ideas in relation to the above which avoids aligning itself with any school within the broad discipline of psychotherapy|
|Qualitative Methods in Psychology||The Section aims to act as a network of qualified psychologists, extending collaboration possibilities, sharing expertise and offering training opportunities to members; to champion and develop qualitative methods in psychology and to raise the profile of teaching and research of qualitative methods in psychology.|
|Social Psychology||The Section aims to encourage and promote social psychological research,facilitate contact and communication between social psychologists and impact positively upon social psychology globally|
|Transpersonal Psychology||The Section acts as a forum for those interested in spiritual practices and experiences, researching their value and their relationship to the models and concepts of psychology|
Note: The term 'division' in the American Psychological Association does not have the same meaning as it does in the British Psychological Society, coming closer to what the British Psychological Society refers to as 'sections'. Branches are for members in the same geographical region.
BPS currently has the following special groups to provide a forum for members working in particular specialist fields, with a particular focus on training, practice, and professional development
|Special Group in Coaching Psychology||Re-designated as Division in 2021|
|Special Group for Independent Practitioners|
|Special Group for Psychology and Social Care|
The Society also organises regional branches throughout the United Kingdom. These include the following branches:
BPS has been concerned with the question of statutory registration of psychologists since the 1930s. It received its charter in 1965 and an amendment in 1987 which allowed it to maintain a register of psychologists. The UK government announced its intention to widen statutory regulation, to include inter alia psychologists, following a number of scandals arising in the 1990s in the psychotherapy field. The BPS was in favour of statutory regulation, but opposed the proposed regulator, the Health Professions Council (HPC), preferring the idea of a new Psychological Professions Council which would map quite closely onto its own responsibilities. The government resisted this, however, and in June 2009, under the Health Care and Associated Professions (Miscellaneous Amendments) Order, regulation of most of the psychology professions passed to the HCPC, the renamed Health and Care Professions Council.
The Society's main office is currently in Leicester in the United Kingdom. According to BPS HR department, as of April 2019 there were 113 staff members at the Leicester office, 9 in London. There are also smaller regional offices in Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow. The archives are deposited at the Wellcome Library in the Euston Road, London.
The British Psychological Society's logo is an image of the Greek mythical figure Psyche, personification of the soul, holding a Victorian oil lamp. The use of her image is a reference to the origins of the word psychology. The lamp symbolises learning and is also a reference to the story of Psyche. Eros was in love with Psyche and would visit her at night, but had forbidden her from finding out his identity. She was persuaded by her jealous sisters to discover his identity by holding a lamp to his face as he slept. Psyche accidentally burnt him with oil from the lamp, and he awoke and flew away.
The Society has its own YouTube channel.