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Annual Conference - Stress & resilience

11th-13th May 2018, Warwick University


Every year OUPS holds an applied psychology conference, inviting top psychologists to talk on a specific area of psychology to give delegates the opportunity to hear experts in the field present up to date research on a specific area of psychology and to provide a forum for informed discussion.

Our Annual Conference in 2018, for OU students and anyone with an interest in the subject, will be on ‘Stress and resilience.’ This will be presented to be of interest to both academics and lay persons.


We are developing two strands in our Stress and Resilience Conference.
The first relates to biology, evolution and health. Our three confirmed speakers in this area are:
  • Professor Frederick Toates (Open University) will gives the biological background to stress, talking on “Lessons to be learned from the study of brain, motivation and behaviour”.

    Stress will be examined as the state that exists when a set of normal adaptive processes of brain and behaviour are stretched beyond their adaptive range for protracted periods of time. So, in order to understand stress, we need to examine how these processes normally work in their adaptive mode. This involves looking at a number of key neurotransmitters, brain regions and hormones. The hierarchical nature of the organization of the brain is central to understanding stress. The talk will apply these ideas to a range of stress-related phenomena: stereotypies, obsessions, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression and addiction, as well as mindfulness, social buffering, coping and resilience.
  • Dr Gillian Ragsdale (Ronin Institute) will take an evolutionary perspective; talking on transgenerational transmission of stress via epigenetic processes.

    In the last few decades we have started to understand how stress during early life can influence the stress response across the lifetime. Now it seems that this influence can be passed on to the next generation – and beyond. It’s a depressing and stressful thought and begs the question – why? Why does this happen? Understanding the problem that gene-environment regulation of stress has adapted to solve can help us understand how to manage the causes and consequences of stress - not just in individuals, today, but worldwide across generations to come.
  • Professor Angela Clow will look at health implications; talking about how health is affected by stress (for instance how stress impacts upon circadian rhythms and becomes a major route to physical and mental ill-health and decreases in cognitive function).
Our other stream is more work/occupation oriented. Our agreed speakers here are:
  • Professor Andrew Oswald (Warwick) will be talking on ‘Modern Research on Happiness and Mental Well-being’
  • Dr Jim White (Director of Stress Control Ltd): 'Stress control: getting beneath the tip of the iceberg'?

    Even with the significant expansion of mental health care, at least in England, we are scarcely able to reach beneath the tip of the iceberg. Mental health services continue to see people with well-established mental health problems and cannot, yet, do much early-intervention or preventative work. This talk will describe this population-level approach for adults and look at how the class works, what the research says and will also look at the ways it has developed into other areas such as online, higher education and prisons. We will look at how Stress Control is being adapted to help school pupils and those sitting on long waiting lists for CAMHS.
  • Professor Stephen Palmer (Middlesex University, London): ‘How to reduce stress, enhance resilience and wellbeing’.

    We all know what stress, resilience and wellbeing are about, don’t we? Or do we? These terms are often used in day-to-day conversations with our colleagues, family and friends especially the ‘stress’ word which may be shared with complete strangers on overcrowded trains too. However, researchers have a variety of differing definitions or descriptions for them. This paper will focus on these three closely-related areas and then consider interventions that can reduce stress, enhance resilience and wellbeing based on cognitive behavioural, positive psychology and ecopsychology research. There will be an opportunity for delegates to reflect upon their own stress inducing thinking (SITs)/Resilience Undermining Thinking (RUTs) and develop more helpful alternatives that may enhance their wellbeing.
  • Professor Ivan Robertson (Founding director of Robertson Cooper Ltd): ‘Psychological wellbeing at work: causes and consequences?’

    This session will provide a review of the research evidence concerning the factors that influence psychological well-being at work. The presentation will identify the main consequences of poor psychological well-being for health, illness and performance – and the protective benefit of enhanced well-being. A brief review of interventions that can be used to protect and improve psychological well-being in the workplace will also be given.
  • Dr Gini Harrison (The Open University): 'Turn on, tune in, (don’t) stress out; Managing stress and anxiety in a digital age'                

The conference will be introduced by Jim Handley. As a HCPC registered Occupational Psychologist, Jim uses psychology to solve real world problems, such as influencing behaviour to help organisations reduce their energy consumption/carbon footprint and helping individuals and groups improve their psychological well-being and resilience.
During the Saturday evening session Jim will run a workshop on stress, resilience and coping in OU students (using examples from OUPS members’ responses to a survey). The workshop will address the nature of stress, coping and resilience and the of sources of stress, responses to stress and coping strategies; and how to develop a personal action plan.

What to expect

The lectures are conducted in management conference seminar rooms within the University campus, and you will be provided with a timetable of talks and lecture notes on arrival.

You can choose how you spend your time. If you book the residential package then you will have a very comfortable ensuite room complete with bedding, towels, a hairdryer, coffee-making facilities and desk. Wifi is also included. The training centre has a small exercise room within the building and you also have complimentary access to the  gym and pool on campus, so if you do want to relax then there is the option to do so.

There are welcome drinks and also a psychology book stall, and these are both excellent places to meet other students. All students and staff wear name badges, so it is easy to find somebody to help if you have any questions. You can enjoy your meals with a group of students in the comfortable dining room. The food is fresh, healthy buffet style catering, and there is something to entice everyone. All meals are included in the price of the weekend.

Finally, whilst most students leave exhausted from the learning and socialising, they comment that it is such a worthwhile weekend, and we see many of them each year as they progress their studies!


The weekend takes place at Scarman House, The University of Warwick. Both accommodation and lectures are located in the same building unless you have been informed otherwise.

Warwick is an award winning conference venue with excellent facilities. Access to the sports facilities, including the swimming pool, are included in the price. The university's central location with excellent transport links makes it easily accessible from all over the UK and Europe. There is ample free car parking.


Click here for information on accessibility, parking and other related facilities.

Travel and directions

Click here for satnav postcodes and directions to the University of Warwick.

For campus maps go to Warwick Campus Maps.


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