Having initially trained as a Psychotherapist I was curious about the culture of and dynamics within the organisation I worked in as a director of operations.
My interest and training in how our unconscious minds can drive our behaviour as individuals, led me to choose a consultancy training that would consider the unconscious mind of the organisation. I embarked upon an MA programme and then a professional doctorate programme at Tavistock Consultancy Services – Organisational Consultancy from a Systems/Psychodynamic perspective.
Keen to explore ‘beneath the surface’ of my own organisation, I began to see that many of our responses to challenging situations were driven by a need to defend against the anxieties that were present, but not always acknowledged and/or spoken about.
When working with individuals or whole teams from a systems/psychodynamic perspective, I came to understand that the culture of the organisation, it’s processes – conscious and unconscious – dynamics and systems, all communicate information about the hope and anxieties, both ‘real’ and imagined, driving the organisation.
This perspective began to explain why there had to always be a ‘mad’, ‘bad’ or ‘sad’ person within the team, why one department was always ‘getting it wrong’, why a certain sort of person always seemed to get the promotion and why a certain sort always failed…
“Every organisation is an emotional place. It is an emotional place because it is a human invention, serving human purposes and dependent on human beings to function. And human beings are emotional animals: subject to anger, fear, surprise, disgust, happiness, or joy, ease, and unease.”
If you are familiar with psychoanalytic language you will be familiar with concepts such as splitting and projecting. If you are not, they describe responses to anxiety and helped to explain why we needed heroes, villains and scapegoats. They began to shine a light on why we repeatedly made the same mistakes but in different and ever increasingly creative ways! It also explained why so many consultancy interventions and ‘team building days’ whilst occasionally enjoyable (more often humiliating I hasten to add), made no lasting impression or brought about any meaningful change. They were merely sticking plasters, aimed at bringing teams together but not sufficient in exploring ‘beneath the surface’ and the painful truths that we needed support in recognising, learning, and healing from.
Over the years I have consulted to a wide range of organisations and relationships with survival, rivalry, competition, separation, belonging and dependency anxieties have been common themes regardless to the services they offer.
My approach to consultancy, therefore, is focused upon relationships. Relationships between staff, between staff and the organisation in their mind, between the consultant and the organisation, and our relationship with ourselves.
It concerns itself with truth. Making the unconscious conscious and the unspeakable spoken. It aims to provide containment through the relationship, so we can face the anxiety that might be present, process it to make meaning, and bring about realistic and lasting change.
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