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The British Psychological Society (BPS) is a representative body for psychologists and psychology in the United Kingdom. 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. 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.[1]

Its current President for 2019-2020 is David Murphy, a Clinical Psychologist, Educator & Researcher. The Society holds its Annual Conference, usually in May, in a different town or city each year. In recent years it has been held in Dublin (2008), Brighton (2009), Stratford-upon-Avon (2010), Glasgow (2011), London (2012), Harrogate (2013), Birmingham (2014), Liverpool (2015) and Nottingham (2016), Brighton, (2017), Nottingham (2018), and for 2019, will be in Harrogate.

The BPS is also a Registered Charity and, along with advantages, this also imposes certain constraints on what the Society 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.

In 2012 the BPS had 49,678 members and subscribers, in all fields of psychology, 18,342 of whom were Chartered Members. The Society publishes details of its membership size through its Annual Reports and Annual Review. According to the Annual Review of 2017, total membership stands at over 70,000,[2] and according to the Annual Report, 'Membership and subscribership has continued to grow in 2017, with an overall increase of 8,407 (13.6 per cent). Growth in Graduate and Chartered membership is less at 1,689 (3.9 per cent).'[3]



Following the receipt of a royal charter in 1965, the society became the keeper of the Register of Chartered Psychologists. The register was the means by which the Society could regulate the professional practice of psychology. Regulation included the awarding of practising certificates and the conduct of disciplinary proceedings. The register ceased to be when statutory regulation of psychologists began on 1 July 2009. The profession is now regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council.

A member of the British Psychological Society (MBPS) who has achieved chartered status has the right to the letters "C.Psychol." after his or her name. The BPS is also licensed by the Science Council[4] to award Chartered Scientist[5] status. The highest designation the Society can bestow is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society (FBPsS), showing a significant contribution to and understanding of the discipline.


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.

  • Setting standards of training for psychologists at graduate and undergraduate levels.
  • Providing information about psychology to the public.
  • Providing support to its members via its membership networks and mandatory continuing professional development.
  • Hosting conferences and events.
  • Preparing policy statements.
  • Publishing books, journals, the monthly magazine The Psychologist, the Research Digest blog, including a free fortnightly research update, and various other publications (see below).
  • Setting standards for psychological testing.
  • Maintaining a History of Psychology Centre.



The following have been Presidents of the Society[8][9]

Honorary Members and FellowsEdit

Honorary membersEdit

The following were Honorary Members of the Society:[10]

In 1946 all surviving Honorary Members were made Honorary Fellows.

Honorary FellowsEdit

The following have been or are still Honorary Fellows of the Society:[11]

Society publicationsEdit


The BPS publishes 11 journals:[12]

Special Group in Coaching Psychology publications:

  • International Coaching Psychology Review[13]
  • The Coaching Psychologist[14]

The PsychologistEdit

The Psychologist[15] is a members monthly magazine that has been going since 1988, superseding the BPS Bulletin.

The Research DigestEdit

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 [1][2]

Member networks: Sections, divisions, branches and groupsEdit

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:[16]


The Sections currently include:

Cognitive Psychology Community Psychology
Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Crisis, Disaster and Trauma Psychology
Developmental Psychology Cyberpsychology
Defence and Security Psychology History and Philosophy of Psychology
Male Psychology Mathematical, Statistical and Computing
Political Psychology Psychobiology
Psychology of Education Psychology of Sexualities
Psychology of Women and Equalities Psychotherapy
Qualitative Methods in Psychology Social Psychology
Transpersonal Psychology

Cognitive Psychology SectionEdit

The Cognitive Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society was formed in 1978 as a national forum for the discussion of research and issues of professional concern to cognitive psychologists.

The Section's 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 Brugess and Graham Hitch.

Consciousness and Experiential Psychology SectionEdit

The Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section is a section of the British Psychological Society for those interested in the psychology of consciousness and experience. 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.[17] Official approval for CEP was announced in 1997 during the BPS Annual Conference. The section’s mission is ‘to advance our understanding of consciousness,[18] 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’.[19] As of 2016 Jane Henry is the Section Chair. Every year in September the Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section holds its annual conference, and smaller workshops and events at other times.[20][21][22]

The Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section is one of fifteen sections of the BPS.[23] This section is for anyone interested in broad-based, rigorous academic exploration of consciousness and experience. The section is an interest group comprising members of the BPS and also unaffiliated members. In the modern era the Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section was the first section of a nationally representative body of professional psychologists devoted to the study of consciousness.[24]

Developmental Psychology SectionEdit

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.

Psychology of Sexualities SectionEdit

The Psychology of Sexualities Section is a section of the British Psychological Society for psychologists whose work is relevant to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) issues.[25] The section is open to all BPS members including both practitioner and academic psychologists. The section was 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).[26] 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.[27] 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[28] 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).[29] 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;[30] section members were also instrumental in drafting the Society’s Position Statement on Therapies attempting to Change Sexual Orientation;[31] a UK Consensus Statement on Conversion Therapy;[32] and a Memorandum on Conversion Therapy in the UK.[33] The section publishes Psychology of Sexualities Review (previously the Lesbian & Gay Psychology Review),[34] organises events and training and awards prizes for achievement in the field.

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.

Special GroupsEdit

BPS currently has the following special groups to support members:[35]

  • Special Group in Coaching Psychology
  • Special Group for Independent Practitioners
  • Special Group for Psychology and Social Care

Statutory regulationEdit

BPS has been concerned with the question of statutory registration of psychologists since the 1930s.[36] 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.

Society officesEdit

The Society's main office is currently in Leicester in the United Kingdom. According to BPS HR department, as of April 2019 there are 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.[37]


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.[38]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Geoff Bunn, 'A Short History of British Psychological Society'
  2. ^ "BPS Membership and Standards Board".
  3. ^ BPS Annual Report, 2017
  4. ^ Science Council
  5. ^ Chartered Scientist
  6. ^ "Founder Members of the BPS". Archived from the original on 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  7. ^ "Founders, Fellows, Presidents, and Members".
  8. ^ "Presidents of the BPS". Archived from the original on 2012-03-16. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Honorary Members of the BPS". Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  11. ^ "Honorary Fellows of the BPS 1946–1969". Archived from the original on 2015-01-21. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  12. ^ "BPS Journals". 4 April 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019. External link in |website= (help)
  13. ^ "International Coaching Psychology Review | BPS". Retrieved 2019-07-19.
  14. ^ "The Coaching Psychologist | BPS". Retrieved 2019-07-19.
  15. ^ "The Psychologist".
  16. ^ "DCP Faculties".
  17. ^ "The British Psychological Society Annual Review 2009". 2010-05-04. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  18. ^ Velmans, M. (2009) Understanding Consciousness (2nd Ed). London: Routledge/Psychology Press
  19. ^ "Consciousness and Experiential Section". BPS. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Annual Conference - BPS". Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  22. ^ "Events - BPS". Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  23. ^ "BPS". BPS. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
  24. ^ "Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section - BPS". Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  25. ^ "The Psychology of Sexualities Section | BPS". Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  26. ^ Wilkinson, S (1999). "The struggle to found the lesbian and gay psychology section". Lesbian & Gay Psychology Section Newsletter.
  27. ^ das Nair, R (2009). "Editorial – The times they are a-changin'". Lesbian & Gay Psychology Review. 10 (1): 2.
  28. ^ Clarke, V.; Ellis, SJ.; Peel, E. & Riggs, DW (2010). Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Queer psychology: An introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521700184.
  29. ^ "The International Psychology Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Issues (IPsyNet)". Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  30. ^ British Psychological Society (2012). "Guidelines and literature review for psychologists working therapeutically with sexual and gender minority clients" (PDF). BPS.
  31. ^ British Psychological Society (2012). "Position Statement: Therapies Attempting to Change Sexual Orientation" (PDF). BPS.
  32. ^ UK Council for Psychotherapy; et al. (2014). "Conversion therapy: Consensus statement" (PDF). BPS website.
  33. ^ "Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK" (PDF). BPS website. 2015.
  34. ^ "BPS Shop | Psychology of Sexualities Review – Publication by Series – Publications". Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  35. ^ "Member Networks | BPS". Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  36. ^ Jackson, Claire (September 2018). "A History of Psychology in the United Kingdom Meeting of Minds–the road to professional practice" (PDF). British Journal of Psychology.
  37. ^ "British Psychological Society Archive". Catalogue. Wellcome Library. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  38. ^ Steinberg, H. (2001). A brief history of the Society logo. The Psychologist, 14, 236–237. Download article via "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-17. Retrieved 2011-11-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit