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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Projective Identification in the Consulting Relationship: Exploring the Unconscious Dimensions of a Client System

This paper explores the impact of projective identification on consulting relationships. The concept of projective identification, drawn from psychoanalytic literature, is used to elucidate the ways in which the dynamics within consulting teams comes to mirror important and unconscious aspects of the client system. Attention to this process thus provides opportunities for understanding important dynamics of the client system which are often inaccessible through more traditional modes of social science inquiry. It is often that these unrecognized, implicit forces can emerge in the course of an intervention and undermine attempts at collaborative social change. Three case examples illustrate the operation of this process, and finally a discussion of the practical implications of attending to it is offered. Reprinted in Freie Assoziation Projektive Identifizierung in der Organisationsberatung. 6. Jahrgang, Heft 2/2003 pp 53-72. Reprinted in Sievers, B. Psychodynamik von Organisationen Beisen: Psychosozial-Verlag, 2008 pp 267-289'