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Presidential Blog

Learning from the Swedes

22 March 2017 | by Peter Kinderman

It’s a very well known fact that “Sweden beats the rest of the world at just about everything”. That applies to the organisation of professional bodies for psychologists as much as everything else.

So, last week, colleagues from the British Psychological Society and I met our counterparts from the Swedish Psychological Association to discuss how we might make real and tangible our joint commitments to our recently signed Memorandum of Understanding.

A couple of examples might illustrate how we might benefit from such links.

A few years ago, the Swedes launched a psychology website designed specifically for the public. Psychology Guide offers insights into psychological science and practice using language that appeals to intelligent lay-people, rather than jargon-loving academics.

And it clearly works. The website now attracts 20 per cent of the Swedish public.

Analysis of the IP addresses of people visiting the site has revealed that one in fiveof Swedish households visited it last year. Withour own rather good new website, we will be attempting to learn from and replicate the Nordic success.

We were also reminded of how much we might learn from our Swedish colleagues as we mentioned our new British Psychological Society Declaration on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We are proud of this document, although equally aware that we need to ensure that our actions match our words.

For our Swedish colleagues, there were some brief expressions of confusion until they remembered that gender equity represents a distant historical issue for them, but a current struggle for much of the rest of the world.

More practically, we are exploring ways to allow members of the British Psychological Society and the Swedish Psychological Association to work together, to share both public and member-only materials such as policy papers and practice guidelines and to welcome members to participate in activity across both nations.

We also hope to benefit from some of the approaches that have proved so attractive to the Swedish general public so as to emulate their success.

I hope to see more of these kinds of arrangements – links not only to national psychology associations, but to other collegiate bodies;  the Mental Health Foundation, the Faculty of Public Health, with the Royal Colleges of Psychiatrists and General Practitioners. 

These are not necessarily easy times for people working in public service, but together, the Swedes have shown us, we can do good things.

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