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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Reflections from Practice: The Interface of Psychoanalysis and Organizational Role Consultation

I have been working at the psychic integration of two practice areas psychoanalysis and organizational role consultation. And, I am finding the practice areas mutually informing in useful ways. Rooted as I am in learning from experience and applying learning from experience, however, I am aware of a hesitancy to make explicit the learning that comes from psychoanalytic practice (and test out the possibilities) in reflecting on the practice of organizational role consultation. When ideas spring to mind that are generated from the accumulated experience of working as a psychoanalyst that might apply directly in role consultation or to consultant team reflections, I experience anxiety. The fear is that, ideas, if expressed, could potentially violate what feels like a taboo. It is as if the learning might be so deeply personal as to have little applicability beyond observations on personal development. The knowledge that theory and competence are advanced from what is learned in practice abandons me.The converse is not true; learning from the practice of organizational consultation has profoundly effected my understanding of psychoanalytic practice -- psychoanalytic contracting, locus of authority in psychoanalysis, the learning partnership are some examples. And, I find these ideas relatively simple to articulate in professional psychoanalytic settings. While I am curious as to whether the experience of constraint is self-generated and idiosyncratic or whether it is generated in some unconscious aspect of our culture of consultation, I want to face down the constraint, and try to articulate the cross learning from the practice areas. Actually, I was inspired by Bob Gutman at ISPSO last year in London. His excellent paper explicating application to his practice area of architecture and architectural education brought to mind that our theory of consultation can be informed by developments in the practice areas of the diverse native disciplines that comprise our group: social science research, economics, architecture, education, the law, creative arts, psychoanalysis, cultural anthropology, etc. To start facing down this constraint that I experience, I would like to describe similarities, differences and overlap in the two practice areas of psychoanalysis and role consultation as I experience them, and present a case from which I would like to draw some inferences about the learning transfer between the two.