Behind the camera: working, leading and following in organisation- An online Group Relations Conference

Conference overview

This 4-day online Group Relations Conference (GRC) will provide an opportunity to discover more about the challenges and rewards of organisational life by working in an immersive group environment as a ‘temporary organisation’. And like any other organisation, it will present the tensions of working in particular roles, in different levels of authority, and with differing assumptions about the task. Participants will learn about each other’s capacities to lead and actively to follow.

Behind the camera cropped

As organisations, teams and individuals find their way in the current disturbing social environment shaped by the pandemic, the experience of trying to work together in a ‘virtual’ space is now a key aspect of group life for many of us.  But working together remotely is real and not simply a simulation. We are often in front of a camera, but we are also behind the camera looking at others and shading some of what we see with the mind’s eye too – as we always do.  And so, this group relations conference will conduct all of its work online, giving us a unique chance to notice, explore and understand the way in which organisational processes are experienced and expressed through a ‘virtual’ medium.

Conference plenaries involve the whole membership. The opening plenary invites members and staff to share their experiences of ‘crossing the boundary’ into the conference i.e., what is desired or feared, what left behind?  The closing plenary will be an opportunity to reflect as individuals on what has been experienced and what might be taken from this experience.

Small study groups are an opportunity to work in small groups (no more than 10 people), in order to better understand small group processes as they occur.

Large study groups are where all members come together to experience and learn about the interpersonal processes arising in a large group.

Review groups provide a space for a small group of members to review together the experience of the conference, including exploration of the roles taken up and opportunities still to be explored. A central aspect of the review group is using the perspectives of other members to make sense of individual experiences.

Application groups continue the work in the review groups, and are an opportunity to explore links between conference experience and each individual’s experience in their own organisation.

Intergroup event offers the chance to experience and explore relationships between groups, and the challenges and opportunities of exercising authority on behalf of others.

Organisational event explores a setting where there is a recognised management group, explicit roles and levels of authority. What kind of organisation is created, how it is experienced, and how open it is to change and development will be influenced by the conscious and unconscious beliefs brought to it.

The conference is open to people who currently work or study at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust on a programme where the GRC is required. There will also be a limited number of places for Tavistock staff, and possibly for those on other Tavistock programmes either at the Tavistock or in a national centre.  A range of backgrounds will be represented including social work, educational psychology, child psychotherapy, systemic family therapy and psychiatry, and organisational consultancy.  

In addition to the wider membership (i.e. those for whom this is their first or second experience of a GRC), we are also inviting applications for a Training Group, which will form a sub-system in the conference. The Training Group will be made up of people who have significant previous GRC experience (i.e. at least 2 GRC’s), and would like to take up some differentiated roles within the GRC, working within the membership and also alongside staff.  As the online GRC is a new way of working this is the first Training Group  to be invited to explore this experience, navigation and learning through a ‘virtual’ medium.

The training group has its own additional schedule and events. Early application is recommended as places are allocated on a competitive basis.

  • Applicants for the Training Group need previous membership experience of at least two Group Relations Conferences to be eligible to apply.
  •  The Training Group schedule will involve time on the afternoon of Monday 14 December and may entail earlier start and later finish times than the wider membership.

‘It was an honour for me to be given the opportunity. And I both enjoyed the privilege to attend and learnt from the hard experiences’ – Member

‘Fascinating and memorable experience! Thank you!’  - Member

‘I would do it again and recommend it to others’. – Member

‘A highlight was the chance to really explore one’s own motivations and behaviours, and check that the self-dialogue one gives oneself is honest,  and really seek a deeper level of understanding of self and others’ – Training Group member. 

‘There was a lot in the conference, which will undoubtedly digest and marinate over time.  The highlight was the in- between position, really incredibly hard to hold at times, with the wish to be staff or at times the wish to join the members.  However, I have to say that the Review and Application groups did so much to unpack the experience in relation to the organisation and self’. – Training Group member

‘I valued being part of the TG working; particularly the continuity of working together throughout the conference and grappling with our role as the TG; being in between staff and members. It helped me to think about leadership and my own middle management issues at work as well as putting me back in touch with my own ambition’. – Training Group member

Training Group (i.e. those with significant prior GRC experience)

  • Full Training Group fee: £740
  • 20% discounted Training Group fee for Tavistock staff/students:  £595
  • Trust Staff if sponsored (Training Group): £55

Wider membership

If you are a student here, please check with your course to see if the GRC fee is covered by your course fee and if you therefore have a priority place which will be offered to you once we have received your application for the GRC.  If not, we are happy to accept applications and you will be placed on a reserve list and offered a space only once priority places have been taken up:

  • Membership fee £635
  • Tavistock staff and students entitled to 20% discount i.e. £510

There may be a limited number of sponsored places available to Trust staff.  For more information on fees please contact the conference administrator at

Please apply by Friday 4 December 2020.

(Training Group only – Monday 14th pm)

Whole membership (including Training Group)

Tuesday 15 December 9.30 am to 5.00pm (Registration from 9:00)

Wednesday 16 December 9.30am to 5.00pm

Thursday 17 December 9.30am to 5.00pm

Friday 18 December 9.30am to 5.00pm


To maximize the conference learning for you and other attendees, we ask all members to commit to attending the whole of all four days.

N.B. Training Group members need also to commit to the initial meeting in the afternoon of Monday 14 December. The TG timetable may also entail commitments beyond the timetable for the wider membership.

Conference Director

Lydia Hartland-Rowe, Workforce Wellbeing Lead, Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust; Portfolio Manager (Psychological Therapies), TPFT; Cohort Director, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Programme, NHS Leadership Academy 2015-

Conference Associate Director 

Dr Rajni Sharma, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy Training Director at the Northern School of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy (NSCAP) with extensive experience of working with and consulting to groups. 

 Training Group Director

Gwen Hanrahan, independent organisational consultant and executive coach, faculty member of Tavistock’s Masters in Consulting & Leading in Organisations and supervisor on the Executive Coaching Programme at Tavistock Consulting. 

15 December 2020 09:30 to 18 December 2020 17:00

Ready to apply?

Download application form