Applying Systems Psychodynamics: Enhancing Role Effectiveness in Organizations

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Each of us has a role within the organizations we interact with in our daily work and personal lives. Learn how to: enhance creativity, effectiveness, and authority in your roles; develop more satisfying links with those organizations' mission; contribute to improved organizational functioning.

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10 Sessions: Wednesdays, Oct 3, 17, 24, 31; Nov 7, 14, 28; Dec 5, 12, 19, 2018

7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

BPSI, 141 Herrick Road

Newton Centre, MA 02459

This program will be of interest to non-practitioners and practitioners at intermediate and advanced levels of training. Continuing Education credits are offered for physicians, psychologists, and social workers.

Applying Systems Psychodynamics: Enhancing Role Effectiveness in Organziations


As we engage with groups and organizations in our work and personal lives, we encounter challenges and dilemmas in our individual organizational roles, and we experience varying degrees of organizational dysfunction. Understanding and applying systems psychodynamics derived from psychoanalysis, group relations, and open systems theory can help us:

  •  Enhance creativity, effectiveness, and authority in our individual roles
  •  Develop more satisfying links with the institutional/organizational mission
  • Contribute to improved organizational functioning.

This course is open to students (clinicians, educators, consultants, organizational practitioners, administrators, and others) who have taken the theory course (Applying Systems Psychodynamics Part I: Enhancing Leadership in Organizations), or have participated in a Group Relations Conference, or who have become familiar with systems psychodynamics through other pathways. Please contact the instructors if you have a question regarding eligibility. The course will emphasize group discussion of case studies presented by guest faculty who are experienced organizational consultants and practitioners, we will invite seminar participants to present their own organizational challenges for consideration by the group.


To complement the learning within the seminar, we also strongly recommend that participants, enroll in this non-residential weekend training event*:


Leading from Experience: Developing the Consultative Stance

Sponsor: The Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems in partnership with The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute

Date: Friday, November 9, 2018 to Sunday, November 11, 2018

Location: Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA


*Seminar participants will receive a reduction of the registration fee for the workshop.




James Barron, PhD -- Chair, Board of Trustees; Faculty, Psychoanalytic Training, Fellowship, and Explorations in Mind programs; Chair, Section of the Psychoanalyst in the Community, Department of Psychoanalytic Education, American Psychoanalytic Association; Former faculty, The Levinson Institute for Executive Education, and Director of Executive Education for Innosight; Private practice, Brookline, MA.


Harry Spence, JD -- Trustee Member, BPSI; Former Professor of Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Doctor of Education Leadership Program; Lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School of Government; Deputy Chancellor, New York City School System; Receiver, City of Chelsea; Receiver, Boston Housing Authority; Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Social Services; Court Administrator, Massachusetts Trial Court, and other public and private sector leadership positions. Long time staff member for group relations conferences.


Guest Instructors

Donna M. Elmendorf, PhD is the director of the Therapeutic Community Program at the Austen Riggs Center. Donna also serves as a psychotherapist and a psychotherapy supervisor in the Center's Adult Psychoanalytic Training Program. She also leads the Center's consultation service and the Human Development Strategic Initiative bringing developmentally informed, relationship-based interventions to the Berkshire community. She is the chair of the Leadership Committee of the American Residential Treatment Association and has served on the consulting staff of many group relations conferences. Donna received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and her MA and PhD in child clinical psychology from the University of Denver. Following her internship in adult clinical psychology at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital, she completed two year-long fellowships at McLean in adolescent and family treatment and psychological assessment. She has served on the boards of several local and state organizations involved with mental health, education, and environmental conservation.

Gerard Fromm, PhD is Distinguished Faculty and former Director, Erikson Institute of the Austen Riggs Center, where he founded the Erikson Institute Organizational Consultation Service. Jerry has taught at, and consulted to, a number of psychoanalytic institutes across the country, and has served on the faculties of the Yale Child Study Center and Harvard Medical School. He is also President of the International Dialogue Initiative, an interdisciplinary group that studies the psychodynamics of societal conflict, and a past president of both the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations and the Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems in Boston. He has presented and published widely, including Lost in Transmission: Studies of Trauma across Generations; Taking the Transference, Reaching toward Dreams: Clinical Studies in the Intermediate Area; and A Spirit That Impels: Play, Creativity and Psychoanalysis.

Dannielle Kennedy, PhD, principal at WorkLab, is a former president of the Board of Directors of the Boston Center of the A.K. Rice Institute and has directed many conferences on authority and leadership in the Tavistock tradition. As an organization development consultant, organizational role consultant, teacher, and licensed clinician, Dannie helps people and organizations to develop a deep understanding of themselves and the context in which they operate.  By providing a relationship of trust and using empirical data collected from key members of the organization, she creates conditions for reflection and insight with clients pursuing developmental as well as strategic goals. This approach creates confidence, a more nuanced awareness of challenges and an array of adaptive solutions. She holds a PhD from Simmons School of Social Work and a Certificate in Organization Development and Human Resource Consulting from the Boston Institute for Psychotherapy.  A current candidate for certification as a Psychoanalyst at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, Dannie practices in Cambridge, MA.    

James Krantz, PhD is an organizational consultant and researcher from New York and a Principal of Worklab Consulting.  Jim's interests are in the unconscious background to work and organizational life, the socio-psychological dimensions of emerging organizations, and the challenges facing leaders in the 21st century.  He has served on the faculties of Yale, Wharton, and the Universidad de Chile.  Jim is past president of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations and the Center for the Study of Groups and Organizations, and Fellow of the A.K. Rice Institute.  He has a doctorate in Systems Sciences from the Wharton School, a BA in Philosophy and Economics from Wesleyan University and has studied at the Tavistock Institute.

Malachi O’Connor, PhD is a Principal and Senior Vice President of CFAR, a private management consulting firm. Trained as an ethnographer, Mal has worked with senior executives across a broad spectrum of for-profit and non-profit organizations to help them address cultural and identity challenges while improving performance and productivity. Over the past five years he has been working with eight family medicine organizations to develop a strategic plan for the specialty as a whole, and then to implement that plan. His recent book, The Moment You Can’t Ignore: When Big Trouble Leads to a Great Future, focuses on the difference that paying attention to culture can make between change efforts that stall out and organizational transformation that delivers sustainable results. Mal holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Folklore and Folklife where his dissertation focused on the playful dimensions of work. He is a member of the AK Rice Institute and the International Society of the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations.

Kimberlyn Leary, PhD is an Associate Professor of psychology at the Harvard Medical School and an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she directs the Enabling Change Program.  Kim is also the Executive Director of Policy Outreach at McLean Hospital and a faculty affiliate at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. She is the former chief psychologist at the Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School. Kim has taught courses on negotiation and conflict transformation to undergraduates at Harvard College, to senior executives at Harvard Law School, and to physicians working in high-conflict zones. She served for one year in the Obama White House as an Advisor to the Council on Women and Girls helping to develop and then direct “Advancing Equity,” an initiative focused on cross-sector approaches to improve health, education, and economic outcomes for women and girls of color.

Edward R. Shapiro, MD is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and the former Medical Director/CEO of the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA.  A psychoanalyst, family and organizational consultant, he is a Principal of the Boswell Group, a psychodynamic management consulting firm based in New York.  Ed has consulted to hospitals, mental health clinics, law firms, and family businesses, focusing on organizational transition, mergers, organizational structure and the dilemmas of authority, management and delegation. He has coached executives in health care, law, education and business. He is on the Advisory Board of Partners Confronting Collective Atrocities, the Executive Committee of the International Dialogue Initiative, and the Board of the Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems (Boston Center of the A.K. Rice Institute).



Learning Objectives
After attending this course, participants will be able to:

  1. Discuss the impact of role, authority, and primary task on organizational performance.
  2. Identify the impact of boundaries on organizational functioning .
  3. Describe two common dilemmas you face in your role(s) in organizations.
  4. Provide an example of how unconscious dynamics affect group functioning.
  5. Link in-role functioning to effective and creative use of authority.
  6. Discuss the usefulness of systems psychodynamics thinking in role consultation.
  7. Describe the negotiated use of interpretation to facilitate collaborative learning.
  8. Examine the impact of projective identification on the consulting relationship.
  9. Differentiate between the constructive and destructive impact of social defenses in organizations.
  10. Describe how containing anxiety influences efforts to manage organizational change.


Fraher, A. L. (2004) Systems psychodynamics: The formative years (1895-1967). Organisational and Social Dynamics, 4 (2). pp. 191-211.

Rioch, M. J. (1975) The Work of Wilfred Bion on groups. In Colman, Arthur D; Bexton, W. Harold, eds. Group Relations Reader. pp. 21-34.

Shapiro, E. (1985). Unconscious process in an organization: A serendipitous investigation. In Group Relations Reader 2, 353-362.

Armstrong, D. (1997). The 'institution in the mind': reflections of the relation of psycho-analysis to work with institutions. Free Associations, 7(1):1-14.

Menzies, I. (1960). A case study in the functioning of social systems as a defense against anxiety. Group Relations Reader (1975), Colman, A. D. and Bexton, H., editors, vol. 1, 281-312.


7:00 pm - 8:30 pm: Discussion of theory and applications; 8:30 pm - 9:00 pm: Reflections on Group Process.

Continuing Education

Physicians: This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. The American Psychoanalytic Association is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physician. The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this Live Activity for a maximum of 20 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION FOR ALL LEARNERS: None of the planners and presenters of this CME program have any relevant financial relationships to disclose

Psychologists: The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This program fulfills the requirements for 20 hours of CE.

Please note: Per APA requirements, psychologists must attend 100% of a course in order to be eligible for continuing education credit.

Social Workers: Application for social work continuing education has been submitted. Please contact us at or 617-266-0953 for the status of the social work CE accreditation. 

Please note: Per NASW requirements, social workers must attend 80% of a course in order to be eligible for continuing education credit.

Licensed Mental Health Clinicians: NBCC credits are not available for this course.

Please note: Licensed Mental Health Clinicians may request continuing education credit on an individual basis from NBCC, through their Continuing Education Credit Verification process.

Cancellation Policies & Procedures
Any program participant requesting their individual program registration be canceled, must submit their request in writing via email to Drew Brydon at For fee-based events, a request for cancellation (and refund using the original form of payment) must be received no later than 48 hours in advance of the event. Requests received later than 48 hours prior to the event will not be processed or accepted. All approved refunds are subject to a $10.00 administrative fee.

If BPSI cancels an event, all registrants will receive a full refund of fees paid (no administration charge) no later than two business days following the scheduled date of the event, using the original form of payment.

Grievance Policy
Please address any questions or concerns about your experience at this or any program or event you have attended at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute to the Program Chair, via the Senior Administrator/Director of Continuing Education, BPSI, 141 Herrick Road, Newton Centre, MA 02459;; 617.266.0953.

The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, Inc., 141 Herrick Road, Newton Centre, MA 02459, does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, national origin or handicap in the admissions, administration of its educational programs, scholarship and loan programs or employment.





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