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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Social Dream-Drawing (SDD): Research and Praxis

Social Dream-Drawing is a socioanalytic praxis conceived, developed and researched by myself as a psycho-social action researcher. Although it is built upon related praxes, such as Social Dreaming, Organisational Role Analysis and the Social Photo-Matrix, its unique contribution is the work with drawings of dreams done by participants, relating to an identified theme. The theory underlying all of these praxes is that thoughts from the unconscious can be made available to consciousness by the processes of free association and amplification. They can be further reflected upon and then used as the basis for individual professional insight and/or for intervention in organisations. The theme that I used for four of the five different groups that I worked with is "What do I risk in my work?" and my research goal was to "to evaluate the benefits of this type of developmental methodology for the work of organisational role holders". The emphasis here is to help them gain greater insight into what they risk in their capacity as role holders and to enhance individual learning and transition in relation to working life. I have worked with twenty-two participants in five different groups in four different countries. This study is among the first to actually use psycho-social research to demonstrate the value of a socioanalytic praxis. My three major findings are as follows: 1. SDD is a very valuable individual transformative professional learning experience. 2. SDD can contain and support individuals going through major transitions in relation to working and personal life. 3. SDD can help groups identify and explore underlying systemic dynamics. The dissertation itself is divided into two sections. The first is devoted to the praxis itself, its underlying theory and development. The second focuses on the philosophy, methodology, methods, findings and ethics relating to the action research I undertook. I use the metaphor of the helix to capture my dual consultant/action researcher and psycho-social researcher roles. The dissertation ends with my reflections on being an older researcher, recommendations for the use of SDD as a professional development tool for professional cohorts and training programs, concerns and cautions about the use of this praxis, and thoughts for possible next steps in using this praxis for organisational development interventions.