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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Social Dreaming, Social Photo-Matrix, Role Biography and Social Dream-Drawing: Structure, facilitation capacities and fundamental value to organizations the thoughts have to be worked on to make them available for translation into action.'(Bion1988: 184)' Transformation, building on the past, recovering what is important, evolution and supporting the next generation this phrase from the call for papers for this symposium prompted me to submit this evolving study to the organizing committee. One way to think of a regeneration in our organization and our field is to note the number of methodologies for accessing unconscious processes in groups and organizations being developed and utilized internationally. While used in different ways in different contexts, what they all have in common is the intent to access a group's unconscious thinking, whether related to a pre-identified theme or a particular organizational or social issue. In this paper, I am presenting three conceptual frames: 1. An overreaching way of thinking about the design of these activities and the role of those who host or lead them. My main question is: What are the necessary and appropriate design elements and facilitation capacities for methodologies that seek to uncover and understand unconscious processes in organizations? 2. A theoretical argument for the fundamental value of these methodologies to organizations, 3. A suggested new paradigm for the role of consultant in bringing these methodologies to organizations. This paper has two starting points. In developing my own methodology of Social Dream- Drawing, I realized how significant an act it is for a participant to bring into a group something generated from his/her own unconscious, such as the drawing of a dream. What makes a participant take the risk of exposing his/her unconscious 'product' to a group? What are the design elements that would facilitate this risky act? What would be the nature of the boundary between the private and the public domain? The second major catalyst for this paper has been the thinking I have been doing on Social Dream-Drawing. I have been exploring at length issues such as what kind of theme is most appropriate, how recording is best done and the roles of the facilitator and process consultant. Having extensive experience in hosting similar methodologies, I naturally began to think in a broader way about how they are structured and implemented.At present there are at least eight methodologies that would be appropriate to include in this study. They are: Social Dreaming (Lawrence 1991, 1998a/b, 1999a, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005), Organizational Role Analysis (Newton, Long and Sievers 2006; Sievers and Beumer 2006), Role Biography (Long 2006), Role History (Chapman and Long 2009), Organizational Constellations (Hellinger 1998; Weber 2000), Organizational Observation (Hinshelwood and Skogstad 2000; Lazar 2008), Social Photo-Matrix (Sievers 2007, 2008, 2009), and my own evolving Social Dream-Drawing (Mersky 2008). For this paper, I will focus on: Social Dreaming (SD), Social Photo-Matrix (SPM), Role Biography (RB) and Social Dream-Drawing (SDD).As these methodologies are becoming more and more sophisticated and popular in our professional community, the question becomes how can we do more to 'make the case' for their value in organizations. It seems to me that we ourselves must first solidly understand what they offer. In simple terms, I see the value of these methodologies 'when implemented and used thoughtfully' as helping organizations to increase their capacity to think about the difficult realities they are facing, rather than suppressing them or allowing them to be acted out in parts of the system ' and to take actions and make decisions based on these insights. Bringing these methodologies to organizations requires a different model of consultancy than the series of steps we have come to know and a different idea of the working relatedness between client and consultant.