When David Roth was in the process leading to certification as a diplomate in pastoral supervision, he had a keen sense of the importance of gaining a deeper understanding what really is going on in groups, whether they were trainees in CPE, the family members and friends gathered in a patient’s room, or the hospital staff.
When Ed Luckett joined CPSP and attended his first Plenary, he experienced “Tavistock” – CPSP’s quasi-sacred ritual, both structured and spontaneous, mysterious and (sometimes) tedious.
As early as 2011, David had seen the need to renew both our understanding of group relations and our ties with the institution that best maintains the Tavistock tradition in the US, the A.K. Rice Institute (AKRI). He arranged a meeting between Jack Lampl, AKRI president, and Raymond Lawrence, our General Secretary, at the National Clinical Training Seminar-West in Malibu in the fall of that year. Their conversations led to CPSP inviting Jack, along with Charla Hayden, to take the lead in our 2013 Plenary program in Las Vegas. Download Brochure
In the midst of our own institutional tensions, so apparent in Las Vegas, the importance of group relations theory and practice for the work we do in pastoral care, counseling, psychotherapy and supervision, and for CPSP as a community itself, became more evident.
Against that backdrop, the two of us journeyed to Dover, MA last June to participate in the 49th annual Group Relations Conference conducted by AKRI, an intensive, six-day residential experience. We joined with an international assortment of leaders in education, government, and business, along with a large number who work in behavioral health fields, and handful of colleagues in ministry. With faculty and participant “members” of a “temporary institution,” we followed an intentional schedule of small-, large-, and inter-group events designed to explore issues in leadership, authority and the emergence of roles. Sometimes, the learning was emotionally challenging, even painful. Along the way, however, we made profound discoveries about the unconscious nature and behavior of groups – and about ourselves.
The group process – which we so often honor by lip service – is powerful, but very often most of it is lost on us. When we come together in a group, we are more than an aggregation of individuals; we have the opportunity to gain access to insight and understanding that members, as individuals, cannot readily attain.
Coming away from Dover, we agreed that the long-standing expected compliance to Competency 430.5 in the CPSP Standards – Completion of an intensive, process-oriented group-training event such as a Tavistock Group Training seminar– made sense. (At the same time we had a better understanding concerning why there can be resistance and an avoidance of it.) Thus, we and our colleagues who plan NCTS-West invited Jack Lampl and Charla Hayden to return with a team of group relations consultants to Sacramento for NCTS-West in October 2013 with the aim of increasing awareness in CPSP, especially in the West, about group relations.
Very soon – next month, to be precise – AKRI will conduct their 50th annual residential conference, once again in Dover. There is still time to register. We strongly urge you participate!
GREX, the A.K. Rice affiliate on the West Coast, will offer a shorter, three-day conference in August, near Seattle. Please consider this experience, as an alternative, if Dover does not fit your schedule.
Whether you are a supervisor of many years or a new clinical chaplain, an SIT, pastoral counselor or a psychotherapist, or perhaps still a trainee in CPE, your experience in group relations work will confer lasting benefits on you and those you serve—and our whole covenant community.
Details on the 6-day AK Rice Residential Conference, Working Across Differences: Authority, Leadership and Institutional Life can be found by clicking here.
Information on the 2014 GREX 3-day conference, The Merit of the Other: Working with Difference in Organizations can be found by clicking here.
Ed Luckett is the palliative care and hospice chaplain for Kaiser Permanente – Napa Solano Area in Northern California, a CPSP clinical chaplain and a supervisor-in-training.
David Roth is director of spiritual care and CPE supervisor at Kaiser Permanente – Napa Solano. Ed and David are both members of the Nautilus Pacific Chapter.