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Four questions for the staff group conductor Christine Thornton.

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Presentation on theme: "Four questions for the staff group conductor Christine Thornton."— Presentation transcript:

1 Four questions for the staff group conductor Christine Thornton

2 Stating the obvious: Every staff support group is an organisational intervention

3 Structure of presentation How is a staff support group different from a group analytic therapy group? Four questions to help the staff group conductor understand the task more fully What is the unique value of a group analytic perspective for effective staff groups? Time for questions and responses

4 How is a staff support group different from a group analytic therapy group? Not strangers Not equal but equal Not primarily for Therapy Not necessarily a small group

5 Question 4: What is the organisational context of the group? Who comes through the organisation's front door? What else is going on in the organisation?

6 Foulkes ‘What an enormous complexity of processes and actions and interactions play between even two or three... quite impossible to perceive and disentangle even theoretically...’ The group as matrix of the individual’s mental life, 1990, p227

7 1 st 4 iterations of the Koch snowflake

8 7 th




12 Organisational context operates at several levels Individual/intrapsychic experience Immediate team dynamics Departmental or service dynamics Larger organizational dynamics Societal context -- values, economics, beliefs

13 What different kinds of power/ authority may be at play in the group? Formal authority or status Expertise Wisdom Experience Popularity Longevity Eloquence

14 Leaders’ involvement is important, because: Their role is to provide containment, and the staff group can help them Their absence engenders a split where the group avoids work through the ‘fight/flight’ or ‘dependency’ basic assumptions Their presence signals the importance of the group

15 Question 3: Who or what am I invited to be? What feelings do I predominantly have in the room? What feelings am I left with afterwards? What speech/ action do I feel impelled towards in response to the group? How can I understand these and what is the most useful response?

16 Question 1: Who wants the group? Who is the client commissioning the group? Will they attend? Who will attend the group? Will they have a choice about attending? How many people are there? [large group dynamics] Does the group have a shifting membership?

17 Principles for membership and attendance slide 1 A group is generally of most value if all the team attend A group is of more value if members attend because they want to Questions of membership and attendance must be taken up from the outset Establish clearly who the members of the group are

18 Principles for membership and attendance slide 2 Establish an expectation of either attendance, or apologies with reasons for absence Deal formally with attendance issues to surface splitting/ emphasise importance Manage attendance and apologies through an internal partner

19 Foulkes’ aims for the first meeting of a group Everyone participated Group understood what they are here for – What is expected of them – They can exchange, not just relate to the conductor If there was a big tension, did they leave feeling happier Can they be serious and also laugh

20 Question 2: What is the purpose of the group? How has the purpose been arrived at? What ideas of the group's purpose do the people attending have? How frequently will the group meet? What do they say they do NOT want the group to be? Do you believe them?

21 Working with individual emotional responses is important for: The health of the individuals concerned The resonating concerns of other colleagues in the team A fuller understanding of the work and the pressures on the team The information it provides about the unconscious dynamics of the organisation.

22 Group processing individual emotional responses to the work slide 1 Attend to the dignity and well-being of the individual, and forestall over-exposure Encourage other members to express their own responses Make links with the content of the work Make links with other factors at play in the organisation

23 Group processing individual emotional responses to the work slide 2 Discourage personal interpretations Encourage team or institutional interpretations Highlight any conflicts, real or perceived, to join up the personal and professional selves Listen for what isn’t being said and encourage its expression

24 What is the unique contribution of group analysis to the field of conducting staff groups?

25 Analysis in the interest of each individual in the group context ‘I use.... the total processes operating in the group...These processes pass through the individual [my italics], though each individual elaborates them and contributes to them and modifies them in his own way.’ Foulkes, ibid. p229

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