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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Consulting to catastrophic breakdown in inter-team relationships: Using an opinion bubbles framework

When interteam relationships suffer a catastrophic breakdown any consultant who attempts to ameliorate the dysfunction does so at his/her peril because of the high levels of hostility, disappointment and antagonism, and hence projection present in the system. To be effective, a consultant needs to maintain good-enough neutrality and needs to be able to tolerate high levels of uncertainty and the absence of an adequate container provided by the client(s) because of the fact that those who could otherwise provide the container are in conflict with each other. This paper describes a model adopted by a consultant who works alone to intervene in highly conflicted systems where there is pressure for quick results and where there is low tolerance for theorizing. The model is based on systems-psychoanalytic principles that have been tested in practice and is designed to provide common language and frameworks to enable bridge building between hostile parties.