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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021


Parallel Papers Session 5
Saturday 6 July 3.30pm-4.45 pm, EEST
Paper Code: PP18

CE Credits Available

Exploring the confluence of systems psychodynamics group coaching with a career leadership model.

Presenter: Adrian Parsadh
Moderator: Louisa Brunner


Disruption and its associated social forces such as technology, digitalisation, new world of work, post-COVID, sustainability, economic and geo-political crises and so forth can impact the world of work, individual career transitions, engagement & career decision-making. Career transitions and shocks with associated feelings of tension, a ‘loss of delusions, the sense of vulnerability and uncertainty...leaving us helpless and fragmented, and yet we need to search for understanding, hope and the means to make a difference’ (AM-24 theme statement).

A career transition refers to “the period during which an individual adjusts to a different setting and/or work role” (Louis, 1982, p. 73). ‘Civilisations and its discontents’ have re-shaped organisational and work-settings which have impacted the career landscapes and labour markets. Career transitions have become a critical aspect of career development as people cross “the boundaries of occupations, industries, organizations, and countries, in search for new labour markets” (Sullivan and Al Ariss, 2021, p. 1).

The new world of work has become dynamic, complex, and more competitive. Organisations are faced with these uncertainties, hope, curiosities, and vicissitudes of change itself. It is argued that career transitions can be filled with feelings of vulnerability, loss, uncertainty, AND hope to re-design one’s work-life and its outcomes.

Can a systems psychodynamic group coaching framework find confluence with a career leadership framework in navigating from ‘Know thy self’ (Aristotle) to re-discovering, understanding the self in relation to the other within ever changing contexts, mediated by hope and resilience to navigate these disruptive and chaotic organisational discontents, and mindful of the ‘desire’ for life satisfaction by design towards ‘a life well lived’ (Kets de Vries, 2024; Savickas, 2012).

The motivation for the paper is related to AM-24 theme statement as mentioned earlier. The paper is aimed to briefly describe the SP group coaching and career leadership frameworks, author’s personal experiences about his career engagement (Neault, R. A., & Pickerell, D. A. (2011) and navigating career transitions through his own multifaceted career trajectory from military, corporate, consulting and a late career transition to Academia. Hopefully, this may shed light on and trigger a dialogue with participants own their own lived experiences with transitions.

It is hoped that this paper will stimulate new thoughts on ways to work through career transitions and shocks in periods of ‘civilisation and its discontents’ and finding confluence with old/new systems (systemic) psychodynamic thinking.

Biographical Summary

Dr Adrian Parsadh (PhD) is an organisational consulting psychologist with specialist focus on organisational, leadership & career development, change, and coaching. He has more than three decades of experience in the public & private sectors. He has enabled leadership and teams with organisational and people development interventions in various sectors (FMCG, Financial, Government, Defence, Private Education, Mining to name a few). He is a past chairperson of the Society for Industrial Organisational Psychologists of SA (SIOPSA) Western Cape Branch, South Africa. He holds membership with SIOPSA (Interest Groups in Consulting/Coaching Psychology and Systems Psychodynamics). He is a member of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations (ISPSO) and organising committee member of AM-23 ISPSO South Africa, Johannesburg. Dr Parsadh has taken on full time roles as Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour and Leadership and Head of Career Leadership at Stellenbosch Business School (SBS), including I/O consulting psychologist in residence.


Louis, M. R. (1982). Managing career transition: A missing link in career development. Organisational Dynamics, 10, 68–77. doi: 10.1016/0090-2616(82)90030-4
Neault, R. A., & Pickerell, D. A. (2011). Career engagement: Bridging career counselling and employee engagement. Journal of Employment Counselling, 48(4), 185–188.
Savickas, M. L. (2012). Life design: A paradigm for career intervention in the 21st century. Journal of Counselling & Development, 90, 13–19.
Sullivan, S. E., and Al Ariss, A. (2021). Making sense of different perspectives on career transitions: A review and agenda for future research. Human Resource Management Review, 31, 100727. doi: 10.1016/j.hrmr.2019.100727