Steve Heigham

Msc in Evolutionary Psychology

I presented a workshop entitled ‘ Why climate change is a wicked problem and what we can do about it’, exploring why it is so difficult for ordinary people to mitigate climate change without government regulation of the supply side of consumer production. On the same day there were presentations by the Chief Executive of the BPS on re-organisation of the BPS, and several presentations on Clinical Psychology practice, including Community Psychology approaches.

There were excellent presentations about: doing outreach work in Communities, gambling addiction, activism and developing resilience. There was a particularly strong Keynote workshop on integrating the views of mental health service users/survivors.

I attended the conference of the Human Behaviour and Evolution Society, which is a US based Evolutionary Psychology organisation. The presentations by PHds and Post-docs were very varied and generally very good, and the final address by Frans de Waal was fantastic. He asks: Are we smart enough to tell how smart animals are? This is his latest book, and he presented it well, encouraging all evolutionary researchers to consider whether we tend to measure animal intelligence against out own, which tends to limit our true understanding of their amazing specialist adaptations to their own environments. He has spent all his life actually observing animals, especially primates, and so speaks from long experience in the field.

November 2017. As my last action as chair of the Psychotherapy section, I chaired the conference at the BPS London office. The title of the conference e was: Trauma and development: culture, contexts and narratives.

The subject was looked at from a variety of perspectives. The three main speakers were:

Rudi Dallos and Arlene Vitere on trans-generational transmission of attachment ‘scripts’. Their book is entitled Attachment and narrative therapy model.

David Morgan on theĀ  effects of migration through broken attachments, loss and trauma, on the mental health of refugees and other migrants. Very moving.

Christopher Scanlon and John Adlam on organisations that become traumatised and traumatising for clients and staff in the managed care and welfare arrangements that we have in our society. They also led a plenary session to look more deeply into the issues we had experienced during the day.

Much of this linked in with the theme of Social Justice, which had also been the main theme of the two previous conferences I had attended, so I wrote an article for the Psychotherapy Section Review, which is attached.

Social Justice


September 2017. The main theme of this conference was again on social issues in therapeutic work, but with an emphasis on finding ways of working psychologically within communities, often with group work and projects. It was more overtly political, and many of the workshops were very participatory and creative, including art, drama and music.

July 2017. The main theme of the conference was on social justice issues in psychotherapy, and how to avoid reinforcing positions of power in therapy relationships. There was also a large section on working with young people.

Easter 2017. I attended the EHBEA conference in Paris, which was very interesting, with a number of talks on Cultural Evolution.

The conference title was: ‘Towards meeting client’s needs; Ethics, Conduct and practice in psychotherapy in the 21st century’. I co-chaired the conference, which was very interesting. Speakers presented papers on many aspects of ethics, with quite an emphasis on the many ways that the therapeutic relationship can go astray, and how this can be put right, particularly with respect to encouraging client autonomy. The BPS President, Peter Kinderman, gave a talk on the need for change in the whole way that we view mental health, breaking away from the more bio/medical model of diagnosis and classification and working in more holistic ways to create care pathways for people suffering distress.

In April I attended the EHBEA conference in London, and it was inspiring. Louise Barrett set an exciting atmosphere from the beginning by broadening the scope of the conference to include work from other areas of social science not usually associated with Evolutionary thinking in Psychology, Anthropology and Biology, and challenging delegates to help integrate a wide variety of perspectives into our world view. The conference, overall, was an exciting mix of Keynote speakers and student research presentations covering Primatology, Cumulative Cultural Evolution, Evolutionary Psychology of reproduction and cognitive development, Life History theory, Behavioural Ecology, Epidemiology and more. There was an emphasis during the conference on Public Health, and a special evening debate on the future of Evolutionary Medicine as an increasingly important and respected perspective within mainstream medical thinking, particularly around anti-biotics, cancer and mental health. On the final day of the conference, I initiated a meeting of delegates interested in evolutionary perspectives on mental health, and a email group has been set up.

October 30th 2015. I co-presented a workshop with Terry Birchmore at the BPS Psychotherapy Section Conference. The workshop presented two perspectives on mentalisation (client’s abilities to think about how their own and other’s minds work), one psychoanalytic, one evolutionary. The conference was on the theme of ‘Transtheoretical issues in Psychotherapy’ and included presentations by speakers on: Community responses to austerity and disadvantage, working with self-esteem, Psychological treatment of problematic internet usage. At the AGM that was part of the conference I was elected chair of the psychotherapy Section.

June 2014. Presented a research summary at the Conference of Higher Education students at Weston College.