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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

AM23-PDW1: The Clinical Dimension of Organizational Consultation

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Professional Development Workshop: PDW1 (live)
Bush Baby Venue

Monday 26 June 2023
10.00am-5.00pm SAST

The Clinical Dimension of Organizational Consultation

Workshop Leader: Jerry Fromm

“The therapist looks out her window and sees her patient gesticulating wildly and thinks the patient is quite mad – until she changes her position and sees that the patient is actually fighting with someone. When she points this out to him, the patient starts fighting with her!”

Workshop Frame

A few years ago, an experienced societal conflict mediator contacted the International Dialogue Initiative and said that something was missing from his training, and he thought it was “clinical.” The IDI’s focuses on disturbed relationships between large groups of people and some of its ways of thinking, about regression for example, are indeed derived from clinical work. But what about organizational life rather than societal life? Might clinical thinking be useful to us there?

As the above quote suggests, there is a clinical lore – almost an oral tradition – that comes from the practice of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, especially with more troubled patients. Distinct from the various schools of psychoanalytic theory, this lore has to do with bedrock clinical concepts – unconsciousness, free association, resistance, transference, countertransference along with a few other basic ideas - and how they play out in the back-and-forth of a relationship in which one party is suffering. What perspectives might be opened up, what challenges presented and what potential gains made possible through understanding our psychoanalytically based organizational consultations as clinical events?

Workshop Design and Aim

This workshop will explore these questions through case examples brought by members. Each member should be prepared to present – informally but with some texture - one of their more difficult consultation experiences. As a group, we will explore cases from the perspective of the playing out of a clinical process, toward the goal of formulating the dynamics of the consultation over time and the meaning of the consultant’s interventions.

Workshop Participants

This Workshop should be useful to practitioners – those beginning their psychoanalytically informed organizational work and those with more experience - who want to learn more about what clinical psychoanalysis can bring to organizational consultation.

Biographical Summary

Jerry Fromm is a Distinguished Member and past President of ISPSO, and a Distinguished Faculty Member and former director of the Erikson Institute of the Austen Riggs Center. He is a Fellow of the American Board and Academy of Psychoanalysis and has taught at, and consulted to, a number of psychoanalytic institutes in the United States. He is also the current President of the International Dialogue Initiative, an interdisciplinary group that studies societal conflict. His most recent book is Traveling through Time: How Trauma Plays Itself out in Families, Organizations and Society.