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Psychoanalysis In Transition
Exploring the Vista from Couch to Collective

October 6-9, 2023

Online Via Zoom

A group relations conference for Psychoanalysts, Jungian Analysts and analytic candidates

Introduction to the Conference

As we face the pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, social and political unrest, climate change, hate crimes, and racial and economic inequities, the fabric of society as we have known it has been transformed. The boundaries of organizations have expanded, institutional priorities have changed, existential distress and isolation have been heightened. These social tensions permeate the conscious and unconscious experience of individuals and impact their functioning in families, groups, and organizations.

Problems in psychoanalytic institutes inevitably reflect irrational social dynamics. As analysts have expanded their involvement outside of the consulting room, institutes around the world have increasingly recognized that learning about leadership, followership, membership, and social dynamics might need to be a fourth pillar in psychoanalytic training (alongside seminars, personal analysis, and supervision). In response, over several decades in California, groups of analysts and group practitioners have introduced courses on group dynamics and a variety of related trainings to psychoanalytic institutes. This conference, the second one of its kind, emerged from their expanding collaboration to group relations organizations such as Grex, the west coast affiliate of the A K Rice institute, and the co- sponsors listed on this website.

In this conference, and working together over four days, the staff and participants will create a temporary institution to examine multiple layers of organizational life beyond the conscious/observable to consider the more impactful and powerful dynamics that are out of awareness.

This type of learning has direct application:


  • Psychoanalysts and analytic institutes are confronted with multiple challenges related to rapidly shifting social and economic circumstances.

  • The traditional dyadic analyst/analysand relationship may no longer contain the complexity of the social surround.

  • The analytic profession is increasingly called upon to adapt and serve a wider swath of society.

  •  Analytic institutes are stressed by problems of leadership, succession, theory, finances, and candidate enrollment

Group Relations Methodology


Group Relations Conferences are an experiential methodology first developed by the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in London, UK.  Derived from the study of organizations in trouble, TIHR shaped a conference design for direct learning about organizational dynamics


The conference primary task is to study the unfolding experience of the group-as-a-whole in the here and now in the service of learning about the exercise of authority and leadership in organizational life.


Unlike traditional models of learning where expertise is assigned to teachers, ​the conference offers a format for learning from experience, yours and that of others. This learning may illuminate how elements of diversity such as individual identities of race, class, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and education level are used consciously and unconsciously in groups. The conference is a setting in which these dynamics can be experienced and explored, within groups, between groups, and within the system as a whole.


Basic Premise – The Study of Authority and Leadership

We are always involved in groups.  At birth, we move from a dyad into a group-- the nuclear family-- and begin to face authority relations, first with parents and then with others such as caregivers, teachers, doctors, therapists, bosses, law enforcement, etc.  These experiences imprint our minds and memories with conscious and unconscious assumptions about those in charge, about the mission of the groups we belong to, and about the roles we take up, impacting how we view and collaborate with authority figures, and how we take up our own authority in relation to that of others.

Leadership and followership are collaborative roles that are integral to the advancement of a group’s purpose. When human beings gather in order to work on a shared task, conscious and unconscious assumptions get activated, impacting how collective work unfolds. These assumptions often serve different agendas, ordinarily out of our awareness. This conference creates a temporary institution for the purpose of studying in real-time these phenomena.

“The individual is a group animal at war, not simply with the group, but with himself for being a group animal and with those aspects of his personality that constitute his “groupishness.”  Bion, Experiences in Groups, p 131


Participants reflections from the previous conference October 2021

The conference consolidated years of analysis in an experiential way that I was not able to reach in analysis. As a result I was able to feel empowered and free. I was able to experience effective leadership in others. It demonstrated the importance of here-and-now learning in all experiences and the value of a group experience as part of analytic training.

I feel less frustrated and more empathic about the leadership in my institute

The conference has Increased my group observation/consultant stance in faculty and board meetings

The conference increased my motivation to get more involved and become more sensitive to my roles in the community.

The awareness of roles in analytic training is crucial.


Welcome from the Director

Samar Habl, MD

Lead Sponsor


Grex - Affiliate of the A K Rice Institute

for the Study of Social SyStems



Council for Leadership and Organizational Studies
Department of Psychoanalytic Education
American Psychoanalytic Association


Conference Staff

The role of conference staff is to provide consultation, when it serves the primary task of each event, to the group as a whole rather than to individuals. In order to provide the opportunity for the emergence of covert dynamics, the staff does not engage in social convensions, but remains focused on supporting member learning.



Samar Habl, MD, Director

Associate Medical Director and Director of Admissions at the Austen Riggs Center. Samar is a certified board psychiatrist and a psychoanalyst. She has particular interest and experience in the study of groups and social systems as it pertains to organizational life and the application of group relation theories to leadership development. She has directed three residential conferences sponsored by the Center for the study of Groups and Social Systems (CSGSS) and worked as a leadership consultant and executive coach at the International Management and Development school IMD in Switzerland and Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.



Jack Lampl, Associate Director for Administration 

Organizational Consultant | Credentialed Mediator | Visual Artist | Past President and Fellow A K. Rice Institute | Associate Director 2017-2019 A. K. Rice International Group Relations Conference | Board member San Diego Psychoanalytic Center | Past President Threshold Foundation | Founder of Subjective Technologies Inc. an early stage virtual reality startup 


Marco Valerio, MSc, PhD., Associate Administrator

Researcher in Health and Social Psychology, organizational consultant, programme manager, physiotherapist. Marco has recently completed a PhD on the placebo effect and the role of rituals in health and wellbeing. He has previously worked as a project manager and organizational consultant in Mozambique, Thailand, Italy, Belgium, and Australia. 

Consulting Staff


Mika Awanohara, PsyD. Dr. Awanohara is a psychologist in private practice. After completing her post-doctoral fellowship at the Austen Riggs Center, she moved to NYC and worked at Columbia University Counseling and Psychological Services and in private practice. In 2019, Dr. Awanohara took on the role of the Behavioral Health Specialist at Montana State University Medical Services while pursuing her training in Somatic Experiencing. Dr. Awanohara is a member of the American Psychological Association, Past President of the Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems (CSGSS), the Boston Affiliate of the AK Rice Institute, and former member of AKRI. She loves the daily solitude and adventures she shares with her “Rez dog,” Biscuit, in the woods of SW Montana.


Yaro Fong-Olivares, M.S. (she/her) – Executive Director, Gloria Cordes Larson Center for Women and Business, Bentley University| Leadership Psychology PsyD candidate, William James College | Organizational Development with a focus on racial justice, equity, and inclusion | Past President, Executive Committee, New York Center | Member, Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems | Co-Creator, Group Relations International | Certified Consultant, AK Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems |


Heather Forouhar, MD, is a staff psychiatrist, therapist, and assistant team leader at the Austen Riggs Center. Within the therapeutic community of Austen Riggs, she consults to process groups that are aimed at studying relationships to authority.  She works closely with fellows on developing a consultative stance in their group training. She is a graduate of the Austen Riggs Adult Psychoanalytic Training Program, a candidate at the Western New England Institute of Psychoanalysis, consultant candidate of the A.K. Rice Institute, and a faculty in training for the Leading From Experience workshop hosted by the Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems. Clinical interests include psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic education and the psychodynamics of groups and leadership.


Saleem Khliefi, B.A social work. Group therapist. Organizational consultant. Works in the prison services. Former OFEK member

amra .png

Amra Saleem Rao  (MSc, D.Clin Psych, AFBPsS, MA Organisational Consultation) 
Amra is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Organizational Coach & Trainer. She is attached to various educational and professional institutes nationally and internationally with a particular focus on leadership development, career coaching, group relations, power dynamics and therapeutic interventions.  She is the Executive member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) Division of Clinical Psychology. She chairs the BPS Leadership & Management Faculty and Faculties Network. She is associated with the Anna Freud Centre as a supervisor and trainer in Psychodynamic Interpersonal Psychotherapy and has led its development in working with complex depression. Her specialist interest includes working with difference & power dynamics, intersectionality, spirituality, authority &leadership and workplace well-being.


Edward R. Shapiro, M.D., Training and Supervising Analyst, American Psychoanalytic Association; Distinguished Faculty, Erik Erikson Institute for Education, Research, and Advocacy; former Medical Director/CEO, Austen Riggs Center, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Yale Child Study Center; Board Member, International Dialogue Initiative; Advisory Board, Partners Confronting Collective Atrocities; Principal, The Boswell Group; Fellow, American College of Psychoanalysis, American Psychiatric Association and A.K. Rice Institute; Author, Finding a Place to Stand: Developing Self-Reflective Institutions, Leaders, and Citizens (Phoenix, 2020)
 websites: https://www.edwardrshapiro.com

Daily Schedule
Wavy Abstract Background

Event Descriptions and Daily Schedule

The conference events create learning opportunities for understanding the experience in organizations of working in small and large groups, as well as collaborating between groups including the leadership group. There are covert forces at play that significantly impact the effective functioning of groups created to execute particular tasks. The focus on the group rather than the individual allows group members to discover how systemic forces affect individual experience, shaping how leadership is exercised and authority is taken up in the service of the task.


The conference opens and closes in plenary sessions involving members and conference staff. The plenaries further the process of crossing the boundary into and out of the conference, and provide opportunities to reflect on conference learning.

Small Study Group (SSG)

Each Small Study Group consists of up to 12 participants working with 1 consultant. Its primary task is to study the behavior and dynamics of the group as they unfold in real time. The unit of study is the group and not the individual.


The SSG can be viewed as a proxy for small committee work where complex and often covert agendas and personalities impact effectiveness.

Large Study Group (LSG)

The Large Study Group consists of the whole conference membership working together with 2-4 consultants. The primary task of this event is to study the large group’s behavior and dynamics as they unfold in real time.  Again, the unit of study is the group and not the individual.


The LSG reveal the dynamics of all large group interactions such as scientific meetings or even a community listserve. The impact of the inability to see or perceive the whole system and of the absence of containing leadership that is focused on outcome are illuminated in the LSG.  

Institutional Event (IE)

The Institutional event provides an opportunity for members to organize themselves into groups of their choice to explore issues they identify as relevant to the developing institution. The staff is available for consultation and collaboration and will conduct its work in open sessions. The task of the event is to study the irrational and unconscious drivers of organization, authorization, and collaboration within institutions. How members join groups, how resources are used or misused, how groups collaborate with each other and with the staff and how power and authority are negotiated and delegated are some of the data available to develop a deeper understanding of the conference institutional systems dynamics.


The institutional event is often an especially relevant experience for members of institutions and organizations. How work subgroups form and how they relate and collaborate with other subgroups including the leadership group, can impact the experience of organizational membership, belonging and sense of relevance and effectiveness in role.

Review and Application Group (RAG)

Review and Application Groups provide opportunities for participants to review and reflect on the roles and experiences they had during the conference and consider how to apply their learning to their back-home organizations.

The conference is an integrated event that relies on participation in all conference events. Please review the conference schedule below based on Western United States Time (PST) to be sure that you will be available.


Conference Start and Stop Times

October 6 - 8:00 AM Pacific - 4:30 PM

October 7 - 8:00 AM Pacific - 4:00 PM

October 8 - 8:00 AM Pacific - 4:00 PM

October 9 - 8:00 AM Pacific - 12:00 PM


Conference Fees

Early Bird Rates- Ends September 9, 2023

Graduate Analysts                                                                                                 $500

2 members from an institute registering at the same time (each)                    $450

3 or more members from an institute registering at the same time (each)      $400

Candidates                                                                                                             $350

2 candidates from an institute registering at the same time (each)                  $300

3 or more candidates from an institute registering at the same time (each)   $250

After September 9

Graduate Analysts                                                                                                 $600

2 members from an institute registering at the same time (each)                    $550

3 or more members from an institute registering at the same time (each)     $500

Candidates                                                                                                            $450

2 candidates from an institute registering at the same time (each)                 $400

3 or more candidates from an institute registering at the same time (each)   $350

The conference staff will make every attempt to the extent possible in assigning group membership to avoid dual relationships or conflicts of roles within institutes between analysts and candidates. Make sure to let us know about such conflicts at the point of registration.

Further fee reductions may be available on a case by case basis. Please contact administration to request.

Refund Policy

June 1 - July 1                  100% refund

July 2 - August 1                75% refund

August 2 - September 9    25% refund

Wavy Abstract Background


While a group relations conference is a unique experiential event, some background may be helpful before attending and then useful afterwards. The linked pdf references are below.

Tavistock Primer

Charla Hayden and René J. Molenkamp

 “A Tavistock Primer” has been used in graduate programs in organizational, clinical, and counseling psychology; organization behavior and organization development; social work; psychiatry residency programs; and training programs for group facilitators,

human relations internship programs, and by organizations sponsoring Group Relations conferences as a lay person’s guide to what conferences based on the “Tavistock” model are all about.

Introduction to Tavistock

An Introduction to Tavistock-Style Group Relations Conference Learning

Edward R. Shapiro and A. Wesley Carr*

The authors outline the process of systems learning through participation in Tavistock-style group-relations conferences. Focusing on issues of design,basic underlying concepts, selected comments from members, and steps involved in grasping systems dynamics, they offer both background for and summary of the learning opportunities derived from these working conferences.The paper is designed for those individuals considering conference attendance or reflecting on their conference experience.

The Institution In the Mind

The Institution in the Mind Reflections on the relation of psychoanalysis to work with institutions

David Armstrong

To work analytically in groups, or I want to suggest in institutions, is to use one's alertness to the emotional experience presented in such settings as the medium for seeking to understand, formulate and

interpret the relatedness of the individual to the group or the institution. It is understanding that relatedness, I believe, which liberates the energy to discover what working and being in the group or the institution can become.

The Group As-A-Whole Perspective and its Theoretical Roots

Leroy Wells, Jr.

This paper describes some theoretical roots of the group-as-a-whole perspective. Emphasis is given to concepts and constructs that elucidate group-as-a-whole (group level) phenomena. Several case vignettes will illustrate how the group-as-a-whole perspective can be applied, in an or­ganizational context, to better understand, interpret and intervene in in­terpersonal and group relations.

Our Adult World and its Roots in Infancy

Our Adult World and its Roots in Infancy

Melanie Klein

This paper, originally delivered by Melanie Klein on 11th M a y 1959 before the members of the Departments of Social

Anthropology and Social Studies in the University of Manchester, is a brief but comprehensive statement of her

findings and theories in psychoanalysis in a form specially prepared for a wider social-science audience.

Recovering Bion's Contribution to Group

Kenneth Eisold

Bion is clearly acknowledged as a pioneer in group theory and practice. His book, Experience in Groups (1961 ), in which he wittily recounts his baffling early experiences in group therapy and attempts at theoretical explanations, has become a classic, frequently cited alongside Freud's ( 1921) paper on group psychology. He is the first to have approached the group-as-a-whole and to have called attention to the central role of pre­oedipal dynamics in the unconscious life of groups. Moreover, with his phenomenological descriptions of the "basic assumptions" he provided a tool for categorizing the central events of group life that many group workers continue to find indispensable. In what sense does this work have to be "recovered"?

Regression in Organizational Leadership

Otto F. Kernberg

The choice of good leaders is a major task for all organi­zations. Information regarding the prospective administra­tor's personality should complement questions regarding his previous experience, his general conceptual skills, his tech­nical knowledge, and the specific skills in the area for which he is being selected. The growing psychoanalytic knowledge about the crucial importance of internal, in contrast to ex­ternal, object relations, and about the mutual relationships of regression in individuals and in groups, constitutes an important practical tool for the selection of leaders.

Selection from Experiences In Groups

Wilfred Bion

"Selection from Experiences in Groups" by Wilfred Bion is a significant contribution to the field of group dynamics, focusing on the role of unconscious processes in shaping group behavior. Bion explores the concept of selection within groups, highlighting how unconscious dynamics influence the choice of leaders and ideas. He emphasizes the presence of primitive emotional forces and their impact on group functioning, such as dependency, aggression, and the need for containment. Bion underscores the importance of understanding these unconscious processes to foster healthier group dynamics, effective leadership, and constructive decision-making within groups.

The Denigrated Other:Diversity and Group Relations

Marvin R. Skolnick and Zachary Green

This article explores the dynamics of diversity utilizing the work of Bion and other psychoanalytic thinkers. The Group Relations conference as a laboratory to study the unconscious aspects of these dynamics will be considered.

ALL WE LIKE SHEEP--" [Isaiah 53:6]: Followers and Leaders 

Margaret J. Rioch

"All We Like Sheep" by Margaret J. Rioch explores the dynamics of followers and leaders through the lens of Isaiah 53:6. The story delves into the human inclination to follow others, likening it to the behavior of sheep following a shepherd. Rioch raises questions about blind adherence to leaders and the potential consequences of uncritical following. Through its characters and interactions, the story prompts readers to reflect on the responsibilities of leaders and the importance of individual discernment in choosing whom to follow.

A Case-Study in the Functioning of Social Systems as a Defense Against Anxiety

Isabel E. P. Menzies

This article offers a significant case study that examines the role of social systems in mitigating anxiety. Menzies investigates how the organizational structure, hierarchical dynamics, and communication patterns within a hospital serve as defense mechanisms against individual and collective anxieties. The study sheds light on how social systems provide stability, control, and predictability, but also highlights potential limitations and implications of relying on such defense mechanisms in institutional contexts.

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