The Tavistock Learning Group: Exploration Outside the Traditional Frame

Author(s) : Clive Hazell, Author(s) : Mark Kiel

The Tavistock Learning Group: Exploration Outside the Traditional Frame

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In The Tavistock Learning Group: Exploration Outside the Traditional Frame, authors Clive Hazell and Mark Kiel attempt to expand the heuristic, theoretical, and applied dimensions of Group Relations paradigms by pairing classical Group Relations concepts with typically non-Tavistock psychology paradigms and social sciences concepts. Under the broad domain of psychologically-informed constructs, Lacanian psychoanalysis, existential philosophy and bioenergetics are applied.

Under a somewhat broader range of social science conceptualization, the capacity for abstraction is linked with anti-work in groups, the large group is re-imagined as an extension of community dynamics and dysfunction, and the role of symbol systems, symbology and semiotics are examined in relation to sophisticated work groups. Lastly, non-Tavistock models of group development and conceptualization are re-interpreted and explained using a group-as-a-whole framework.

Much work in this field has been based on one or two paradigms, notably stemming from the work of Rice (Learning for Leadership), Bion (Experiences in Groups), and Klein (Envy and Gratitude and Other Works). While these models and their extensions are indeed useful, the authors argue that it is time to introduce new paradigms to enrich the interpretive possibilities of this field and to increase its applicability to modern and postmodern contexts.

Reviews and Endorsements

‘Reading this new book from Hazell and Kiel was very stimulating. Its wide-ranging and deep consideration of learning groups will be useful to those new to the theory underpinning Tavistock, or Group Relations, conference work, as well as those who have spent many years exploring it. The intersections between Tavistock learning groups, encounter groups, and therapeutic groups illuminate a rigorous focus on the “boundary regions” among these types of groups and supports further research and potential enhancements to all types of group learning models. In addition, the application of Lacan’s discourse model to seeing
more fully what may be happening in learning groups, the discussion of what could/should serve as relevant data for understanding unconscious dynamics as these emerge in service of learning or not, the “remembering with the body”, and the exploration of “partnering” in group consultation work, all provide opportunity for deepening our ability to understand and develop greater skills for effectively supporting learning in Tavistock and other forms of learning groups. My thanks to the authors.’
- Charla Hayden, organizational consultant

‘This book is a must-read for group and organizational scholars and researchers, for organizational consultants whose thinking is informed by psychodynamic and socio-technical ideas, and for even very experienced Tavistock Group Relations Learning Conference consultants and staff members. There is much to be learned from this very sophisticated scholarly text by these and related audiences. Using core Tavistock Group Relations concepts, Hazell and Kiel creatively and brilliantly demonstrate how these ideas push the boundaries on these topics in a manner that can enhance our understanding of a subset of non-Tavistockdynamic and non-dynamic psychological and social sciences theories and research findings. They go on to present a series of unique and remarkably thoughtful and creative explorations of Tavistock Group Relations ideas and several surprising more traditional topics.’
- Solomon Cytrynbaum, PhD, Professor Emeritus, School of Education and Social Policy and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University

About the Author(s)

Clive Hazell attended the Gilberd School, Colchester, England, and received a BA in Geography from Reading University, Berkshire and a Masters in Geography from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. He worked on projects aimed at bringing about school change at the Institute for Juvenile Research, Chicago. These were funded by the U.S. Ofice of Education and the Ford Foundation. He graduated with a doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology from Northwestern University in 1982 and has had a private practice in Chicago since that date. He has attended and consulted at Tavistock groups since 1978 and has published several books and papers on this and other topics. Recent books address the therapeutic impact of Tavistock groups with patients carrying diagnoses of severe mental illness.

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Dr Mark Kiel is a clinical psychologist, group psychotherapist, and is board certified in Organizational and Business Psychology. He is the Vice-President/President Elect of the Chicago Center for the Study of Group and Organizations (CCSGO). Over the last decade, Dr Kiel coordinated a group-based Personal and Professional Development program as part of the curriculum of a clinical psychology program and teaches courses in group dynamics, psychoanalytic theory and practice and organizational consultation. He is active in Group Relations Conferences serving as a director and consultant with particular interest in Large Study Groups, Institutional Systems Events and post conference application.

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