Consulting with a Psychoanalytic approach to organisations involves the consultation of a "world within a world" (Armstrong, D; 2005).
While applying Psychoanalysis to the study of an organisation, the consultant needs to be skill-full on:
- the identification and understanding of the object of study (as for example, the clients organisation)
-the method used for the study (as for example, the Psychoanalytic Method).
Any exploration takes place through the intersubjective encounter of two subjects (Consultant and Client) on a contracted frequency, time, task and territory.
Role Analysis demands skills, integrity and humbleness. While we need to have an understanding of the Psychoanalytic Method, we must also understand its limitations when Psychoanalytic theory its used for the study of phenomena out of the clinical setting, that is generally refer as the consulting room.
Armstrong, D (2015) highlighted that a critical and difficult matter arises when the practitioner consultants make use of the transference and countertransference. In the practice of Role Analysis Consultants must never restrict the exploration of transference and countertransference to the clients' inner world. The encounter of both worlds (consultant and client) bring into the emotional experience unresolved and unknown elements of the different participants (consultant and client) "workplace within". The ¨Organisation in the mind¨ has to be understood literally instead of metaphorically as it is the case of the clinical consulting room.
The unconscious life of an Organisation can only be approach but never completely understood. The approach can be made through one-to-one interventions, such a Role Analysis, or through larger Organisational Interventions that would be subject of another written piece in this blog.
When we study the unconscious life of an organisation one needs to be aware that we can only access such life through an individual (in occasions a group) representative of the organisation. The access we have is an organisational representation that is the result of a complex network of shared unconscious phantasies held by the different members that compose the object of study, filtered through the mind of our client.
Consultants that work with a Psychoanalytic approach to Organisations require on addition to their understanding of Psychoanalysis, an understanding of Organisational Development, Systems Theory and Complexity Theory. All these subjects are slowly being integrated in the emerging field of Socioanalysis.
In the practice of Socioanalysis we are confronted constantly to the challenge to define and understand the object of study (the clients organisation). While we engage on such task we need to take onto account the impact of the larger ecological system in which such object is placed (including stakeholders, clients, society and so on) in the external world of the organisation as perceived through the internal world of the client.
We must aim to intervene with humbleness on the delicate field in which the “Organisation in the Mind/Workplace within” is accessed through the consultation of what we call Role Analysis. Role Analysis sessions take place through the encounter of two human beings that bring into the consulting space their inner worlds, which have unique internal organisations on which their respective organisations in the mind are included.
While we shall embrace the emotional experience generated by the encounter of the practitioner consultant and its client as data, we should always remember that we must primarily discern the inner world of our clients organisation, from the inner world of the client itself.
We must also remember that our task is one of a restless spirit of inquiry, a commitment with the revelation of our clients organisational truth in interaction with its process of role taking. Our work involves a journey to discover the systemic forces that are shaping our clients understanding of his/her role in the organisation to which they belong to. Such exploration, can only be carried on by a constant engagement of trial and error.
Therefore, our profession requires an experiential commitment with hypothesis building and testing where errors are just happenings that takes us a step closer to the understanding of our clients perception of his or her role in their organisational system.
Most important, we must avoid any temptation of interpreting our clients inner world and/or intervening over our clients external world (out of any organisational development contracted tasks) no matter what is our professional background.
We shall only intervene for the task/s for which we have been contracted, in the case of individual Role Analysis, that is to support the individuals role taking in his/her organisational system.