APPLIED PSYCHOLOGISTS: Are we a family, a soup or a salad?


In part one of this article, former chair of the Division of Educational and Child Psychology (DECP) and vice chair of the British Psychological Society (BPS) Professional Practice Board, Kairen Cullen considers the topic of applied psychology, and the seemingly perennial topic of generic and/or specialist applied psychology practice.

Summary points

  • There are two competing perspectives on applied psychology, in which one looks for a field of application-defined specialisms, and the other for a generic profession with training routes and professional roles to reflect each.
  • The idea of applied psychology being like a family seems to arise from the commonalities of the knowledge base, professional roles and the training, as well as the shared professional body, i.e. the BPS.
  • Clinical psychologists account for 58% of psychology members of the BPS. This inevitably has implications for the relative influence and power within the society of different divisions.
  • The family analogy works if all members of the family have an equal role, yet the division within the BPS suggests that this is not the case

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