The purpose of the Association for Business Psychology is to support the education and development of its members through collective and individual learning. They are also the accrediting body for Business Psychology programmes nationally. Business Psychology requires expertise in business acumen and, as such, practitioners are often not aligned to the British Psychological Society. Historically, this gap left many Business Psychologists with a weak professional development network, but it has also created a lack of clarity about the qualifications and standards for Business Psychologists. To close this alignment gap, Alex was asked by the Chair of the APB, Mr Steve Apps, to lead in the design and implementation of a certification process which would also support professional development.
Our goals were to create a certification process that would be growth-related, providing meaningful development for candidates from all educational backgrounds working in business psychology, supporting students on their industry placements and be able to withstand external scrutiny, but also embrace professionals who had come into the discipline from atypical backgrounds.
The first stage of this work involved reviewing and drawing on best practice from other governing bodies such as the BPS and the QAA, then designing criteria for certification that would prove educationally operational and translate into industry. Drawing on ideas from these bodies, I re-designed the ABP practice areas to highlight the areas which differentiate the discipline from the BPS Occupational Psychology route but also to place at its heart developmental values that were important to me. Values that I adopted through my work for the Higher Education Academy fellowship route which is at the heart of the University of Liverpool ULTRA scheme.
The resultant framework now feeds into the national accreditation model for MSc’s in Business Psychology. Furthermore, the associated CPD programme empowers psychologists to formally consolidate and reflect upon evidence of their professional practice, as well as identify gaps in training so that they can evidence and enhance both the effectiveness of their roles and better support their trainees.
Plans for certification were presented early in 2017, where we explored the proposals through dialogue with stakeholders including university directors, practitioners, students and support staff who scrutinised all elements of the certification process.
“identifying the requirements, evidence areas and process generated some interesting debate on what differentiates our profession and got us to think critically about our own work and practices” (Debbie Hance, Workforce Experience, ABP).
The new process has proved transformational with the ABP’s 1000 members. As evidenced by Steve Apps, Outgoing Chair of the ABP, this is an industry-changing initiative.
“What Alex has achieved should not be under-estimated. Alex combined expertise, persistence and a strong stakeholder management to create a practical process which fits extremely well with the culture and values of the Association. …She allowed us to shape the underlying framework and to adjust the process. This industry-changing initiative will be here to stay and provide a home for Business Psychologists into the future”.
As candidates are successful we encourage and develop them to join the mentee team, meaning that my work has endless scope for developing psychologists globally. The process has recently gone through a positive external review by Dr Christos Petichakis:
“I would also like to comment on my very positive experience of observing the panels yesterday and working with you all. You have created a very stimulating and engaging certification process – these things do not appear by accident so well done for your hard work to get to this point”