A half-day conference was held at the University for students in their third year studying ‘Abnormal Psychology’. 65 students attended the conference on Friday 6 December and listened to six presentations.

The first two presentations were from alumni of the Department, Albert Phipps and Chris Shepherd. Albert graduated with a first class honours degree in Psychology and several of his students have gone on to become first class honours students themselves, with two obtaining their doctorates. Chris now works for Backup North West, a charity that works with homeless people. He showed students how some of the skills they are learning, such as thematic analysis, have real world applications and how he uses them in his own job.

Melvin Bradley, manager of MhIST (Mental Health Independent Support Team) a charity based in Bolton, explained how he moved into the field of mental health from an unusual background in industrial chemistry. He put forward the argument that there was no such a thing as abnormal psychology, people could help themselves get better and that psychotropic medications were of limited value.

Ken Heathcote, one of the most influential men in the fitness industry also joined the conference and persuaded the entire class to get on their feet and say “If you think you can, you can.” He also told how at the age of 82 he swam the length of Lake Windermere for charity in a Force 6 gale, which took him 10 hours. He explained how he was inspired by his father and still draws encouragement today from hearing his father’s voice.

Paula Rushby, a family therapist who works with eating disorders, outlined how therapists engage and help families who feel powerless in dealing with their children’s eating disorders.
The final speaker was Ben Robinson, who himself suffered with anorexia. He told students how an eating disorder can completely take over a person’s life.

Professor Jerome Carson, Professor of Psychology at the University of Bolton and Sue Prynn, lecturer in Psychology, organised the mini-conference and said: “It was a great success. The students learned a lot from these inspiring speakers and we hope to run it again next year.”


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