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British Psychological Society

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British Psychological Society
Formation1901; 123 years ago (1901)
TypeProfessional body, learned society, charity
Legal statusNon-profit company
HeadquartersSt Andrews House, 48 Princess Road East, Leicester LE1 7DR
60,604 (2019)
Nicky Hayes (2022–24)
Chief Executive
Sarb Bajwa
Honorary General Secretary
Christina Buxton[1]
Websitewww.bps.org.uk Edit this at Wikidata

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:[2][3][4]

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. In 1965 it was a granted a Royal charter.[4]


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.[5]

Membership grades and post-nominals[edit]

In 2019 the BPS had 60,604 members and subscribers, in all fields of psychology, 20,243 of whom were Chartered Members.[6] There are a number of grades of members:

  • Members
    • Student member (no post-nominal): The grade for students of psychology.
    • Graduate Member (GMBPsS): Awarded to graduates of an undergraduate degree accredited by the society, or have completed an accredited conversion course.[7]
    • Full Member (FMBPsS): awarded to those with qualification in psychology and working in the field of psychology
    • Associate Member (AMBPsS): awarded to wellbeing practitioners[8]
  • Fellows
    • Associate Fellow (AFBPsS): Associate Fellowship may be awarded to nominees who have satisfied one of the following conditions since first becoming eligible for graduate membership:
i) achieved eligibility for full membership of one of the society's divisions and been successfully engaged in the professional application of a specialised knowledge of psychology for an aggregate of at least two calendar years full-time (or its part-time equivalent); or
ii) possess a research qualification in psychology and been engaged in the application, discovery, development or dissemination of psychological knowledge or practice for an aggregate of at least four years full time (or its part time equivalent); or
iii) published psychological works or exercised specialised psychological knowledge of a standard not less than in 1 or 2 above.
i) been engaged in work of a psychological nature (other than undergraduate training) for a total period of at least 10 years; and
ii) possess an advanced knowledge of psychology in at least one of its fields; and
iii) made an outstanding contribution to the advancement or dissemination of psychological knowledge or practice either by your own research, teaching, publications or public service, or by organising and developing the work of others.
    • Honorary Fellow (HonFBPsS): Honorary Fellowship is awarded for distinguished service in the field of psychology.

Professional qualifications[edit]

  • CPsychol: Chartered Psychologist - 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 (MBPsS) who has achieved chartered status has the right to the letters "CPsychol" after his or her name.
  • CSci: Chartered Scientist - The Society is licensed by the Science Council[9] for the registration of Chartered Scientists.[10]
  • EuroPsy: European Psychologist[11] - The Society is a member of the European Federation of Psychologists' Associations (EFPA), and can award this designation to Chartered Psychologists.


BPS Presidents from 1920 to the present[12][3]

Honorary members and fellows[edit]

Honorary members[edit]

The following persons have been honorary members of the society:[15]

In 1946 all surviving honorary members were made honorary fellows.

Honorary fellows[edit]

The following persons are or have been honorary fellows of the society:[16]

Society publications[edit]


The BPS publishes 11 journals:[21]

Special Group in Coaching Psychology publications:

  • International Coaching Psychology Review[23]
  • The Coaching Psychologist[24]

The Psychologist[edit]

The Psychologist[25] is a members' monthly magazine that has been published since 1988, superseding the BPS Bulletin.

The Research Digest[edit]

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 Archived 4 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine


The Society publishes a series of textbooks in collaboration with Wiley-Blackwell. These cover most of the core areas of psychology.[26]

Member networks: Sections, divisions, branches and groups[edit]

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:[27]


The Sections Archived 4 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine 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.[28] Official approval was announced in 1997. The section's mission is ‘to advance our understanding of consciousness,[29] 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’.[30] Every year in September the Section holds its annual conference, and smaller workshops and events at other times.[31][32]
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.
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 The section exists to provide a forum for those involved in government work on the security of our transport networks, in academic and clinical investigation of mental health in our Armed and Security forces and everything in between.
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.
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.
Political Psychology This section provides a forum for those interested in psychological aspects of everyday politics in the workplace, community or home, or national or international politics
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).[33] 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.[34] The Section is for psychologists whose work is relevant to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) issues.[35] 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[36] 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).[37] 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;[38] section members were also instrumental in drafting the Society's Position Statement on Therapies attempting to Change Sexual Orientation;[39] a UK Consensus Statement on Conversion Therapy;[40] and a Memorandum on Conversion Therapy in the UK.[41] The section publishes Psychology of Sexualities Review (previously the Lesbian and Gay Psychology Review),[42] 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.

Special groups[edit]

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[43]

Special Groups
Special Group in Coaching Psychology Re-designated as Division in 2021[44]
Special Group for Independent Practitioners
Special Group for Psychology and Social Care

Regional Branches[edit]

The Society also organises regional branches throughout the United Kingdom. These include the following branches:

  • East Midlands Branch
  • East of England Branch
  • London and Home Counties Branch
  • North East of England Branch
  • North West of England Branch
  • Northern Ireland Branch
  • Scottish Branch
  • South West of England Branch
  • Welsh Branch
  • Wessex Branch
  • West Midlands Branch

Statutory regulation[edit]

BPS has been concerned with the question of statutory registration of psychologists since the 1930s.[45] 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 offices[edit]

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.[46]

Logo and YouTube[edit]

The British Psychological Society's logo is an image of the Greek mythical figure Psyche, personification of the soul, holding an 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.[47]

The Society has its own YouTube channel.[48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Trustees". British Psychological Society. Archived from the original on 9 November 2021. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Founder Members of the BPS". Hopc.bps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Founders, Fellows, Presidents, and Members | BPS". www.bps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 22 January 2022. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b Bunn, Geoff. "A Short History of The British Psychological Society" (PDF). The British Psychological Society. Retrieved 17 August 2023.
  5. ^ "About us". British Psychological Society. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  6. ^ "Review of the year 2019". British Psychological Society. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Graduate membership". British Psychological Society. Retrieved 20 October 2022.
  8. ^ "BPS Membership". British Psychological Society.
  9. ^ "Home – Science Council". The Science Council ~.
  10. ^ "Search the Professional Registers". The Science Council. Retrieved 22 December 2021.
  11. ^ "EuroPsy". EuroPsy. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Presidents of the BPS". Hopc.bps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  13. ^ "New BPS President and President-Elect elected for 2021/22". British Psychological Society. Archived from the original on 27 July 2021. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  14. ^ "President (2022-2024): Nicky Hayes". British Psychological Society. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  15. ^ "Honorary Members of the BPS". Hopc.bps.org.uk. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  16. ^ "Honorary Fellows of the BPS 1946–1969". Hopc.bps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 21 January 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  17. ^ "Three new Honorary Fellows". British Psychological Society. Archived from the original on 13 September 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  18. ^ "News from the Annual General Meeting | BPS". www.bps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 20 August 2019. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  19. ^ a b "From our new President". The Psychologist: 3. September 2021. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  20. ^ "Annual General Meeting 2023". British Psychological Society. Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  21. ^ "BPS Journals". bps.org.uk. 4 April 2019. Archived from the original on 20 July 2020. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  22. ^ "Counselling Psychology Review". British Psychological Society. Archived from the original on 3 June 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  23. ^ "International Coaching Psychology Review | BPS". bps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 5 May 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  24. ^ "The Coaching Psychologist | BPS". bps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 5 May 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  25. ^ "Home | The Psychologist". thepsychologist.bps.org.uk.
  26. ^ "All Books". PsychSource. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  27. ^ "DCP Faculties | BPS". www.bps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 4 April 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  28. ^ "The British Psychological Society Annual Review 2009". Issuu.com. 4 May 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  29. ^ Velmans, M. (2009) Understanding Consciousness (2nd Ed). London: Routledge/Psychology Press
  30. ^ "Consciousness and Experiential Section". BPS. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  31. ^ "Annual Conference - BPS". www1.bps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 9 April 2018. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  32. ^ "Events - BPS". www1.bps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 20 October 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  33. ^ Wilkinson, S (1999). "The struggle to found the lesbian and gay psychology section". Lesbian & Gay Psychology Section Newsletter.
  34. ^ das Nair, R (2009). "Editorial – The times they are a-changin'". Lesbian and Gay Psychology Review. 10 (1): 2. doi:10.53841/bpslg.2009.10.1.2. S2CID 259628730.
  35. ^ "The Psychology of Sexualities Section | BPS". www.bps.org.uk. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ "The International Psychology Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Issues (IPsyNet)". apa.org. Retrieved 2 December 2015.[permanent dead link]
  38. ^ British Psychological Society (2012). "Guidelines and literature review for psychologists working therapeutically with sexual and gender minority clients" (PDF). BPS.
  39. ^ British Psychological Society (2012). "Position Statement: Therapies Attempting to Change Sexual Orientation" (PDF). BPS.
  40. ^ UK Council for Psychotherapy; et al. (2014). "Conversion therapy: Consensus statement" (PDF). BPS website.
  41. ^ "Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK" (PDF). BPS website. 2015.
  42. ^ "BPS Shop | Psychology of Sexualities Review – Publication by Series – Publications". shop.bps.org.uk. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  43. ^ "Member Networks | BPS". bps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 4 April 2019. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  44. ^ "New BPS Division of Coaching Psychology announced". British Psychological Society. Archived from the original on 28 July 2021. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  45. ^ 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.
  46. ^ "British Psychological Society Archive". Catalogue. Wellcome Library. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  47. ^ Steinberg, H. (2001). A brief history of the Society logo. The Psychologist, 14, 236–237. Download article via "History of the British Psychological Society". Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  48. ^ "BPSOfficial". YouTube.

External links[edit]