Annual Report 2014-15

Curiosity, denial or pre-occupation?

These seem to me to be the alternatives on offer in life- to us all, spending, as we do, a lot of our adult lives in work we therefore bring these options in along with our lunchbox and mobile phones. In my work this year I have tried to get people in the 1st position.  It is healthy to be curious, but not always convenient for those we answer to- just as it didn’t always suit our parents when we asked why!  Those who are not curious will either deny and/or become preoccupied.

Two examples  from my work this year  illustrate  why we  need to stay curious and keep asking the questions:-

  • During a seminar on supervision for therapists it was clear that most members who were employed rather than self employed, experienced their employing Organisation as controlling not supportive-management was even countercultural- undermining the possibilty of therapeutic relationships. Reasonable people, many previously practitioners themselves, were driven into this way of being by the wider system’s expectation of them in  role, WHY?  Performance management  by the wider system had led them to overmanage their therapists and deny them the space  and judgement their work really needs- in their  drive to “balance the books” or hit the outcome targets. The penalty for failure was often perceived as the loss of the contract-this can evoke a primitive fear of annihilation- unless we continue to question.
  • In a reflective practice session with 3rd sector Organisations, many members were surprised to discover that big ever-present Organisations, like Churches, were also struggling to continue to provide  the welfare services we supposed would always be there as the bottom line safety net. The uncertainty they carried about their own futures were manageable because others who are seen as central to the core institutions our culture sits upon, would always be there to continue if they could not. They left with a new understanding of the reach of the policy of Austerity.

Systems psychodynamic approaches, action learning  and appreciative inquiry processes help us stay curious, keep anxiety and denial at bay by keeping their causes and effects in view. They make the possibility of good enough Organisations and a good enough life within them possible.


  1. I have continued to work regularly  with two management teams in 3rd sector Organisations facing  major change.
  2. I joined a “virtual team” of external coaches  in a  teaching hospital.
  3. I meet monthly for contiunig Professional Developmet with a senior clinical team in  an NHS Trust.
  4. With a colleague from Liverpool Psychotherapy Network [LPN] we  worked with an Organisation which had recently re-structured, to  review the new roles and how they well they are aligned.



  1. The six session CPD programme on systems psychodynamic approaches to understanding Organisations continues.
  2. I was involved in two training events in association with Liverpool Psychotherapy Network: a seminar facilitated by Robin Shohet, respected author on supervision in therapy and helping professional roles,  and the intoduction to systems  psychodynamic thinking,”Making sense of the workplace” with Sandy Bryson from LPN.
  3. The Leadership and supervision skills course for team leaders in Human Services contiunues. I ran it twice during the year. It is evolving and I am encouraged that it  attracts people from Organisations who have put people on it before. At the review day, 2 months after  the last course, members stated that the course had :-
  • led to better prepared and more productive supervision sessions.
  • That staff are more “present”
  • It’s more reciprocal than ot was.
  • I am able to front up on difficult issues earlier now I understand what goes on the “drama triangle!”

Flyers describing all these in greater detail are on the  Events and Training page.




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