How is it practical and useful?
Our P3C programme provides lots of different opportunities to learn and practice consultancy skills, but probably the most common query we have is about how you can apply learning about unconscious processes and system psychodynamics to your everyday work. So how can a Tavistock Institute training be practical and useful?
A recent experience comes to mind, which might illustrate this. Every month I work with a perinatal mental health team (working with problems that occur during pregnancy and for the first year after birth) and facilitate their reflective sessions. My work is to listen carefully, see if I can identify patterns, and play them back to the team when I think it will be helpful. I like to form a hypothesis about what I think might be going on…
Our focus is on how the team works together and the impact of the work on individuals and the team. They talk about both of these things (the former comes more easily than the latter) but there is also a repeating pattern: if a question arises which a representative of ‘management’ can respond to, they get mobilised to answer, are experienced as defensive and then everyone becomes frustrated.
This time it was about training, with some staff feeling anxious and under-skilled about not having been on a specific perinatal course. So I stopped the conversation and wondered what was going on for the team, with an emerging hypothesis (which I kept to myself at this point) that this dynamic might be mirroring something about their practice, and the parent-child relationship.
Together, we worked with it… On the one hand, the very experienced mental health practitioners working in a new field, lose their competence and get worried, deskilled and a bit angry. In fact, rather like the new mothers, they work with. And the managers said they really wanted to provide a good answer, be reassuring, give some time to the issues, but felt somewhat powerless given the resources they had, and knowing in this case, that the practitioners were skilled as perinatal team workers. The managers found themselves acting defensively, despite knowing this wasn’t really helping either. Again, somewhat like their experience of the behaviours of the mothers that they work with, and the interactions between mother and worker.
Both of these understandings provided powerful insights into how this team works together and how the vulnerable women the team works with are feeling and experiencing pregnancy and new motherhood.
Now we have surfaced this unconscious dynamic and worked with it, the team is more confident that it can change the nature of the interactions and be more mindful of how each responds to the other. And, it was agreed, the insights this session provided were worth quite a few specific perinatal skills-based training sessions.
Co-Director, P3C programme
If you would like to deepen your understanding of consultancy practice, develop your competence and experience and meet people who become part of your own supportive peer community, join us on P3C 2020.
Here is the brochure with full details including outline, fees, venue and module dates or if you have any questions, please email Anabel Navarro, or telephone: +44 (0)20 7457 3926.