Getting stuck in: clinical psychology programmes as provokers of professional and public debate

Cooke, A. (2013) Getting stuck in: clinical psychology programmes as provokers of professional and public debate. In: Group of Trainers in Clinical Psychology Annual Conference 2013 (hosted in Windermere), 4-6 November 2013, Windermere. (Unpublished)

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With their feet in both academia and in a respected profession, clinical psychology trainers are in a unique position to provoke and influence vital debate, both within the profession and within society at large. In the face of widespread misinformation and ignorance about mental health, and in an era where much public information is provided by parties with clear vested interests such as drug companies, arguably we have a moral duty to do so. The majority of the workshop will be an opportunity to share ideas about what we can and should be doing, and what people are already doing around the country.

As a discussion starter I will describe some of my own programme’s initiatives in this regard.

Provoking debate within the profession about what we should be doing:

• My colleague John McGowan and I organised a symposium on the future of the profession at a recent DCP Conference entitled ‘What next for the Profession after IAPT?’ The current conference is another example, organised by another programme.
• We published a guest blog by Peter Kinderman, arguing that ‘the point of psychology is to do something useful’ and that clinical psychologists should be more socially engaged.

Provoking public debate and discussion about ‘mental health’ and psychology

Whilst there are numerous debates about both the nature of the problems that we are dealing with and about their solutions, these debates usually take place either within services or in the ‘ivory towers’ of academia. Policymakers, journalists and those most affected, namely service users, rarely have direct access to the debates either as consumers or participants. As a programme team and an academic unit we have been experimenting with different ways of providing information and opening up these vital debates.

• Blog: Our blog ‘Discursive of Tunbridge Wells’ is dedicated to ‘views and commentary on psychology, mental health and other stuff’. Contributors include programme staff, guest lecturers, trainees and service users. We alert people to new content by email, on our Facebook page and via our Twitter feed. The site has had over 30 000 views since we started it last Christmas. Writing and editing for the blog is also a lot more fun than marking …
• DCP Public Information Materials: several members of the programme team are engaged in DCP sponsored public information projects, for example reports on psychosis and depression aimed at a general audience.
• Pub Talks: John McGowan and I recently gave a public talk about medicalisation and diagnosis entitled ‘Is Life a Disease? ( It was a sell-out, and a subsequent Internet version ( attracted quite a bit of attention, including being tweeted by Stephen Fry to his six million followers!

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology > Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Anne Cooke
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2018 15:02
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2018 15:02

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00