Latest Psychology in the Real World : News, Groups, flyers, evaluations and resources

Various resources used in the groups can be found on pages describing the groups and in The Resources and Other Articles section. Please feel free to download and use these and anything else you find on the website. The aim of the website is to help people to set up groups.

Film Club - a monthly group where people meet at the Old Market Hall cinema, Shrewsbury to watch a film then meet informally afterwards at a nearby pub to discuss the film and it's relevance to our lives.

Latest Film Club Poster:

Film Club August - Tuesday 20th August


Walk and Talk 2019 runs every Thursday setting off at 11am from Frankwell car park by footbridge in Shrewsbury for further information see poster


The Olive Bucknall Memorial Lecture 2018

In conjunction with the launch of his new book on electro-convulsive therapy,
A Critical A-Z of Electroshock, Craig Newnes will give the Olive Bucknall Memorial Lecture on:

Friday 23rd November 2.30-4.00pm
The Gateway
Chester Road

Poster and further information

Obituary for Olive Bucknall in The Guardian Newspaper


Olive Bucknall, who attended several Psychology in the Real World groups and was a great supporter of Psychology in the Real World ideals, has died. Guy Holmes has written this obituary:

Olive Bucknell_and_Terry_Bucknall_in_2009

Olive Bucknall, a well-known campaigner for the reformation of mental health services, has died after a short illness brought on by a series of strokes. She was 97 and until recently had lived at home. Olive’s story formed the basis for the chapter ‘Relatives and Carers’ in the book ‘This is Madness Too’ and a more recent article in Asylum magazine. After her son Terry’s admission to psychiatric hospital as a young man, and the damage that she witnessed being caused to Terry’s brain by insulin coma therapy, ECT and high doses of psychiatric drugs, Olive’s mental health also suffered. She too was given ECT, a harrowing experience that left her memory-impaired as well as traumatised. Olive described herself as a ‘psychiatric service survivor’ and went on to become a member and supporter of numerous patient advocacy groups in Shropshire as well as national groups such as Survivors Speak Out, ECT Anonymous and Soteria Network. Olive told me that her mother said she ‘could talk the hind legs off a donkey’, but she was a good listener too. She paid close attention to what mental health workers and psychiatric patients said, tending to find the latter spoke more sense. She attended hundreds of meetings and conferences around the country telling her and Terry’s story. Her accounts could be long and rambling yet they brought many listeners to tears. Whilst speaking she would often be wracked with pain but she felt people needed to know what had happened: how an 18 year old young man had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital for ‘two weeks rest’ and had never left, becoming severely damaged by treatments that were supposed to help him and de-skilled by the impacts of institutionalisation. She fearlessly and forcefully campaigned for non-medical help for Terry and other long-term patients, often with little success. Tragically Terry died of cancer of the mouth and throat, never having received the help to give up smoking that Olive had long argued for.

I first met Olive in 1994 as co-members of a Patients’ Council - a group of volunteers who visit psychiatric hospitals, listen to patients’ descriptions of their experiences and feed these back anonymously to staff. Olive said: “You know what Guy… nothing about this place is normal. Nothing that goes on in this hospital is like what happens in your own home.” As a result of damage caused by ECT Olive could sometimes take a long time to make her point, but when she did it was always pertinent. And whilst it was deeply upsetting for her to speak about the lack of care she witnessed in mental health services she bravely did it, time after time after time. Indeed for over 50 years.  Olive was a great believer in the ethos of the Soteria Network and always hoped that a Soteria House might be set up in her home town Shrewsbury, believing that if Terry could have gone into a place that helped him feel safe, without intrusive and damaging physical interventions, where people listened to him and gently helped him explore the roots of his difficulties, then he (and others like him) could recover from serious mental breakdowns. Whilst it saddened her that this never materialised, she got on with doing what she could as a member of a large number of patient advocacy groups. She was the first carer’s representative on the local mental health NHS Trust board and was on the planning committee for the first crisis house to be built in Shrewsbury. With her daughter Rosemary she helped set up the Schizophrenia Fellowship at Shelton Hospital.
Olive could be very funny and we had a lot of good times together. People would admire her immaculate clothes (purple was a favourite) and her thick silver hair. She only rarely confided that it was a wig – she had lost all her hair many years ago, due to stress. She told great stories about being a chauffeuse for the Royal Mail in the 1950s and she loved meerkats – filling her sitting room with them in later years. Her house became known as Meerkat Mansion and an Alexsandr Olav was sneaked into her coffin before her burial.

Olive will be badly missed by the many people who knew and loved her and by a psychiatric system that still has much to learn from patients’ and relatives’ accounts of harmful experiences of mental health services. She is survived by her daughter Rosemary and her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Guy Holmes


Latecomers win Pub Quiz Fundraiser

Two latecomers won a psychology in the real world pub quiz aimed at raising money for The Shrewsbury Ark, our local homelessness charity, having called themselves ‘The Late’ as they arrived after the start. John and Nicky Fraser had been busy at work – tree surgeon John had been pruning a yew tree in Belle Vue whilst Nicky was preparing her shop ‘Loam’ for its opening at Maws Craft Centre in Ironbridge – but they quickly caught up with the ten other teams competing for the first prize. Over 40 people attended the quiz at The Olde Bucks Head on Monday 9th April, many bringing prizes for the raffle, and over £250 was raised for The Ark.

Shrewsbury, like virtually all British towns, has a significant number of rough sleepers and homeless people, many of whom have suffered traumatic experiences in their past and whilst on the streets, and many of whom are struggling with mental health difficulties. All the people who came along, including several people from the
Walk and Talk and Filmclub groups, enjoyed a fun evening whilst doing something constructive to help The Ark continue its work.

The Shrewsbury Ark pub Quiz
John And Nicky with their first prize


Psychology in the Real World has been influenced by the Soteria Network and critical psychiatrists such as Loren Mosher. Two ex-members of psychology in the real world groups have combined to offer an opportunity for a Soteria Group to be set up in Shrewsbury. The funding for a room to meet at the Greenoak Foundation and for facilitation of such a group has been provided by ex-carer and service user survivor Olive Bucknall, and Mike Evans, counsellor and director of Greenoak. People who want to set up and run such a group, aimed at critiquing current mental health practice and organising Soteria-type projects to provide alternative means of support, should contact Mike Evans directly.

Zounish Rafique is leaving her NHS post in Shropshire and about to start work in Dumfriesshire. She co-facilitated Filmclub from 2011 onwards, having first attended Filmclub before starting work in Shropshire. She came on many Walk and Talks and set up a Walk and Talk group in Telford. She also co-facilitated Thinking about Medication and Women in the Real World groups, again both in Telford, which were highly thought of. She will be sorely missed. Dumfries Psychology Department are keen for her to pursue her interests in community-based groupwork so there are opportunities for psychology in the real world to spread to that part of Scotland. We wish her all the best for the future.
If anyone wants to help
Nicki Evans and Guy Holmes run Filmclub in Shrewsbury please get in touch, either directly or via the website.


Guy Holmes has been recently made a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences, after being nominated by the President of the British Psychological Society. Others made Fellow of the Academy this year include the labour market economist Lord Layard and Guardian journalist and campaigner Gary Younge, as well as the psychologists Peter Fonagy and David Clark.

Announcing the conferment, Professor Roger Goodman FAcSS, Chair of the Academy, said:
“I am delighted that we have been able to confer a Fellowship on all these eminent social scientists. It is particularly gratifying to include a larger number of economists, policy makers and practitioners on this occasion. This is a result of our work to see representation from these areas increased to maintain balances between the individual disciplines and between academics and those working in the policy and practice communities.”


Guy Holmes was recently given the British Psychological Society’s Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in Practice Award. Guy has now retired from mental health work due to ill health but still sometimes comes on Walk and Talk (as a member rather than organiser) and helps run Filmclub.


Members of Walk and Talk were commissioned to write an article on the relevance of David Smail's work to Walk and Talk. This recently appeared in
the Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy, view article here. People who might want to subscribe to this journal can do at 


Two great psychologists and supporters of Psychology in the Real World initiatives have recently died.
David Smail, and members of the Midlands Psychology Group of which he was a founding member, were very helpful in providing a place for the philosophies and practices of Psychology in the Real World groups to be discussed. David’s obituary in The Guardian newspaper was co-written by Paul Moloney who was one of the speakers on the recent
Toxic Mental Environments Course.
To commemorate David we have been invited to contribute an article on
Walk and Talk for a special edition of the Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling & Psychotherapy. The plan is to meet up in the Bucks Head after Walk and Talk on 2nd October for a recorded discussion on the relevance of David’s ideas to our experiences of Walk and Talk, then write this up as a jointly authored article. If you would like to contribute to this discussion and article please meet us at the pub at 1.00p.m. on October 2nd.
Ron Cattrall also died this summer. Ron set up a local drumming group and was very supportive of Psychology in the Real World groups. A
special edition of JCPCP recently came out that includes an obituary of Ron as well as one of his articles and an article by Guy Holmes entitled What is called thinking?
Both Ron and David will be badly missed by people who try to bring all members of the community getting together with the aim of making our world a better place.

Links Obituary Midlands Psychology Group

David Smail (psychologist) - Wikipedia



Ramblings- with Clare Balding

On Monday 27th January 2014 Clare Balding joined us on to make a follow-up programme she made for BBC radio 4's Ramblings programme. She joined us on a walk with ex-members of the walking group run by Tony and Pat for many years, people who have come on Walk and Talk, and other members of local walking groups. The Ramblings programme
aired on Thursday 6th March and saturday 8th March. Click link below to listen to programme.

Ramblings Programme BBC radio 4

Psychology in the Real World facilitator
Guy Holmes is one of Radio 4’s All in the Mind judges for their 25th Anniversary awards. The other judges are: Radio 1 DJ and TV presenter Scott Mills, founder of Star Wards Marion Janner, MP Charles Walker and Claudia Hammond, presenter of the programme.

On 10/12/2013 Guy appeared on
All in the Mind talking about Psychology in the Real World groups and what makes groups therapeutic. You can hear the programme on:

The awards will be announced in the Spring. To find out more see:


Coming off medication article (updated)

Toxic Mental Environments 2013 - A fresh look at the kinds of environments that drive us all mad and the kind of environments that help us survive and even thrive.

Toxic Mental Environments was held at The Gateway Education and Arts Centre Shrewsbury, May to July

Articles and further information about The
Toxic Mental Environments 2013 group

New Book by Paul Moloney-
The Therapy Industry, Paul gave a fascinating and informative talk at the Toxic Mental Environments group 2013 on The impacts of inequality on both well off and poor people.

Toxic Mental Environments Poster

or see Toxic Mental Environments page

A new book
Madness Contested: Power and Practice has come out to great acclaim. It has a chapter by Guy Holmes entitled ‘Toxic Mental Environments and other Psychology in the Real World groups’.

In October 2012 Filmclub branched out from its usual Wednesday slot to a Friday to encompass the Rainbow Film Festival. Cloudburst was like Thelma and Louise but with the main protagonists being 80 year old lesbians escaping a grand-daughter’s attempts to get one of them in a nursing home due to their blindness and frailty, but with her motives perhaps mostly fuelled by the grand-daughter’s discomfort with having an older relative living with another woman. The film is essentially a hilarious road movie as the two main characters, along with a young male dancer who hitches a ride, trying to cross the border into Canada in order to safeguard themselves by getting married. As well as revealing the subtle and gross ways homophobia and ageism can impact on people who are simply in a loving and caring relationship, the film is terrific fun and well worth watching if you get a chance.

The Rainbow Film Festival, which showcases films made by and about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, is now in its 7th year. It’s stated aims are to ‘entertain, educate, challenge and change.’

Rainbow Film Festival 2012 Report

Film Club Poster for October

Website launch party Shrewsbury Coffee House 14
th Nov

The psychology in the real world website was officially launched on Wednesday 14th November at The Shrewsbury Coffee House. About 40 people came along – people who have come to previous groups, people who have organized and run groups in the past, interested members of the public, people who work in the helping professions, friends and family. Also some newcomers: for example, Lucy Aphramor whose work in the area of healthy living (which relates health to social justice and community engagement) overlaps with psychology in the real world philosophies. To find out more about her work and that of the organisation Well Founded see

As well as enjoying an opportunity to meet up with old friends, the night offered opportunities for people to look at and discuss the website as well as get together to think about and plan groups that might run in 2013. Guy Holmes made a speech thanking Nicki Evans for all her brilliant work in designing and now maintaining the website.

E.M.Forster said ‘Only connect.’ In 21
st Century Britain connecting with others in a friendly, meaningful way seems to have become harder than it perhaps ought to
be. The launch party seemed to help some of us do this for a bit.