The ‘extraordinary ordinary’: curiosity, connection and responsibility in organisational life

Conference overview

Group and organisational experiences in 2022 can feel intense, emotionally charged, and hard to make sense of, let alone to influence. Large-scale global forces feel constantly with us, and more local unnerving social changes can make it hard to hold onto what we know is good about working with others. Things happen at speed, and it is difficult to keep up.

The impact of more than 2 years of learning to find ways to manage the distance that came with online working for many of us has had its influence. The online world offered us certain kinds of connection and opportunities, but perhaps it also contributed to a flatter, less three-dimensional way of seeing and understanding each other. Like the storms on social media platforms, our organisational conversations can flare up quickly, become binary and absolute, with little opportunity for the ordinary give and take that can be part of human interactions.

The past two years have also seen structural inequalities exposed (again), with a challenge to the capacity of organisations to respond to differences in experience meaningfully. This Group Relations Conference takes as a starting point the idea that we need to find ways to be curious and to connect, and to do so in the spirit of looking for what can hold and be built on, rather than the excitement of the fight or the spectacle of the lightning show. The steady, ordinary pleasure that comes with working to connect and shed light on the conscious, unconscious and systemic meanings of our experiences in organisational life and in society is hard won – but so powerful when it is possible.

GRC 2022

The conference is open to people who currently work or study at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust on one of the programmes where the GRC is a required part of the programme of study as well as those who come to join the Building Experience Group from both within the Tavistock and from other settings A range of backgrounds will be represented including social work, educational psychology, child psychotherapy, systemic family therapy, psychiatry, and organisational consultancy.

A Group Relations Conference is a chance to take time to look more closely at the conscious and unconscious processes that influence us in groups and organisations – including the impact of wider systemic influences to which all organisations are exposed.

As part of the design of the 2022 Group Relations Conference at the Tavistock Clinic, we are including for the first time a new kind of group, the ‘Building Experience Group’ (BE-Group). This group, designed for people who have attended one GRC before, will offer an opportunity for those who are keen to learn more about themselves in an organisational context and have an interest in exploring what the GRC model of development can offer them. The BE-Group will offer its members a chance to focus in as individuals on what they would like to learn next, to revisit, to challenge, as well as opportunities to work alongside staff and members in different ways. As part of your membership, you will be offered a follow-up coaching session after the GRC to think through your learning experience and where you may want to take it next.

This group is part of a response to important challenges that have been voiced in recent GRC’s about the way of working, openness to change and widening the discourse, and we would particularly welcome anyone who has attended a GRC recently and would like to be part of the conversation.

The BE-Group fee is £540, with a 20% discount for current staff, students or recent alumni. There will also be 2 bursary places with a 50% discount for applicants from BAME backgrounds.

If you would like to have a conversation about applying to join the BE-Group, please get in touch at, otherwise to apply, please click on the link above.

GRC staff will be working together on Sunday 11th December. The Building Experience Group will also need to be available to meet briefly online on Sunday afternoon, to meet with the Building Experience Group Director, Gwen Hanrahan, and to start to work together. Timings during the week will also be different for BE-Group members, starting at 8:30 on Monday, and 9:00 Tuesday t0 Friday.

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.

Whole System Event offers the chance to experience and explore relationships between groups, and the challenges and opportunities of exercising authority on behalf of others, where tjhere is a recognised management presence. What kind of system 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.

There will also be a curated space within the GRC for creative activity.

For current students/trainees

If you are a student here, please check with your course to see if the December GRC fee of £660 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.

Building Experience Group (prior experience of 1 GRC needed)

We have been able to set a lower fee for this group, hoping to make it easier for those who have recently finished a programme of study to apply as well as those further on in their professional life who have done a GRC some years ago.

Fee - £540

There will also be 2 further sponsored BE-Group places with a 50% reduction (£270) for applicants from BAME backgrounds as part of the work to widen access to GRC experience.

Building Experience Group - Please apply by Friday 2nd December 2022

Tavistock Students - Please apply by Friday November 17th 2022

NB the application deadline for students will need to be a ‘hard deadline’ given physical space restrictions at the Tavistock Clinic and the need to finalise planning.

Monday 12 December 9.30 am to 5.30pm (Registration from 9:00)

Tuesday 13 December 9:30 – 5:30

Wednesday 14 December 9.30am to 5.30pm

Thursday 15 December 9.30am to 5.30pm

Friday 16 December 9.30am to 4:30 followed by social gathering until 5.15pm

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

Locations: Tavistock Clinic, 120 Belsize Lane NW3 5BA (Covid measures allowing)

Conference Director

Lydia Hartland-Rowe, Clinical Lead, Add | Wellbeing, Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust; Portfolio Manager, Psychological Therapies 2019 – 2020; Cohort Director, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Programme, NHS Leadership Academy 2015-17

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.

‘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

12 December 2022 09:30 to 16 December 2022 17:30

December Application Form 2022

Apply here

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