Group and Organisational Dynamics for Counsellors

The details
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
20 May 2019


Requisites for this module
PA215 and PA216 and PA217 and PA218 and PA221 and PA256



Key module for

DIPLC89A09 Psychodynamic Approaches,
DIPLC89A24 Psychodynamic Approaches,
MA C89D36 Psychodynamic Counselling (3 year)

Module description

In this module students study group and organisational processes. It provides them with psychodynamic and systemic understanding of how groups, organisations and networks function and interact. This will provide them with a deeper understanding of the wider dynamics affecting professionals and clients.
It includes both theoretical and experiential learning.
Beginning with Freud's original and critical work on group psychology the module explores the impact that social and organisational psychology and psychoanalysis have had upon working and organisational life. We will consider the ways in which organisations and working life are influenced by powerful unconscious defences operating within and between people and organisational structures. How have psychoanalytic and systemic ideas helped to make sense of seemingly irrational group and organisational phenomena and striven to keep alive the 'human touch' in organisational and group life? What can the individual do to improve organisations, help keep them 'on task' and strengthen their therapeutic or enabling qualities? How does an understanding of group and organisational process become useful in a counselling situation?

Module aims

This module aims to help students understand more fully the conscious and unconscious dynamics in groups and organisations so as to better understand group and organisational processes in their own workplaces and the impact of these on their clients. The aim is to equip students with the knowledge and confidence to establish, maintain and protect the role of counsellor in complex organisations and to have a fuller grasp of the group and organisational pressures on themselves and their clients.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module you should be able to:
* a deeper understanding of organisational dynamics
* the ability to apply psychodynamic insight to a wide range of organisational settings
* an increased understanding of the unconscious dynamics at work in individuals, groups and organisations
* capacity to recognise how psychodynamic concepts come alive and apply to individuals, groups and organisations
* awareness of the key features of organisational life such as role, authority, leadership, followership, open and closed systems, organisational hierarchies and boundaries, conflict, primary task, and participation
* awareness of the role they play in group and organisational life including their capacity for self-reflective practice and management of self
* awareness of how organisational and group processes impinge on the clinical task
* awareness of the impact of group and organisational processes on their clients

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

The module is delivered using theory seminars, experiential workshops and a two-day experiential weekend.


  • John, Byng-Hall. (1986) 'Family Scripts: A Concept which can Bridge Child Psychotherapy and Family Therapy Thinking', in Journal of Child Psychotherapy. vol. 12 (1) , pp.3-13
  • De Board, Robert. (2014) The psychoanalysis of organizations: a psychoanalytic approach to behaviour in groups and organizations, New York: Routledge.
  • Morris, Mark. (2000) 'Tyrannical Equality: A Mental Health Hostel', in Observing organisations: anxiety, defence, and culture in health care, London: Routledge., pp.82-98
  • Spurling, Laurence. (2017) 'The Organisational Framework', in An introduction to psychodynamic counselling, London: Macmillan Education, Palgrave., pp.156-166
  • Sebastian, Kraemer. (1988) 'Splitting and Stupidity in Child Sexual Abuse', in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. vol. 3 (3) , pp.247-257
  • Bion, W. R. (1985) 'Group Dynamics: A Re-View', in New directions in psycho-analysis: the significance of infant conflict in the pattern of adult behaviour, London: Maresfield Library., pp.440-477
  • Lyth, Isabel Menzies. (1988) Containing anxiety in institutions: selected essays, volume 1, London: Free Association.
  • Kegerreis, Sue. (2010) Psychodynamic counselling with children and young people: an introduction, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Armstrong, David; Obholzer, Anton. (2005) 'The "Organization-in-the-mind": Reflections on the Relation of Psychoanalysis to Work with Institutions', in Organization in the mind: psychoanalysis, group relations, and organizational consultancy : occasional papers 1989-2003, London: Karnac., pp.29-43
  • Colman, Arthur D.; Bexton, W. Harold. (1975) Group relations reader, Sausalito, CA: GREX.
  • Ward, Adrian. (2003) Therapeutic communities for children and young people, London: Jessica Kingsley.
  • Exall, David. (2014) 'Third and Non-Statutory Sectors', in The Handbook of Counselling Children and Young People, London: SAGE., pp.401-414
  • Freud, Sigmund. (1953-1974) 'Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego', in The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis.
  • Simpson, Peter; French, Robert. (2005) 'Thoughtful leadership: lessons from Bion', in Organisational & social dynamics. vol. 5 (2) , pp.280-297
  • Van Buskirk, W. (1999-06-01) 'Organizational Cultures as Holding Environments: A Psychodynamic Look at Organizational Symbolism', in Human Relations. vol. 52 (6) , pp.805-832
  • Grint, Keith. (2005) 'Problems, problems, problems: The social construction of 'leadership'', in Human Relations. vol. 58 (11) , pp.1467-1494
  • Hinshelwood, Robert D. (1994) 'Attacks on the Reflective Space', in Ring of fire: primitive affects and object relations in group psychotherapy, London: Routledge., pp.86-106
  • Miller, E.; Rice, A. K. (1990-1997) 'Task and Sentient Systems and their Boundary Controls', in The social engagement of social science: a Tavistock anthology, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. vol. Volume 1: The Socio-Psychological Perspective
  • Roberts, Vega Zagier. (1999) 'Isolation, Autonomy, and Interdependence in Organizational Life', in Group relations, management, and organization, Oxford: Oxford University Press., pp.224-238
  • Roberts, Vega Zagier. (1994) The Organization of Work: Contributions from Open Systems Theory, London: Routledge., pp.28-38
  • Sally Box; Tavistock Clinic. Adolescent Department. (2015) Psychotherapy with families: an analytic approach, Hove: Routledge.
  • Hirschhorn, Larry. (c1990) 'Work and Reparation', in The workplace within: psychodynamics of organizational life, Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press., pp.201-216
  • Gordon Lawrence, W.; Bain, Alastair; Gould, Laurence J. (1996) 'The fifth basic assumption', in Free Associations. vol. 6 (1) , pp.28-55
  • Mason, Barry. (1991) Handing over: developing consistency across shifts in residential and health settings, London: Karnac.
  • Emmanuel, Louise. (2002) 'Deprivation x 3: The contribution of organisational ‘triple deprivation’ of looked-after children', in Journal of child psychotherapy. vol. 28 (2) , pp.163-179
  • Casemore, Roger; International Consulting Conference. (1994) What makes consultancy work: understanding the dynamics, London: South Bank University Press.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay    50% 
Coursework   Group Relations essay    50% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Ms Arianna Pulsoni, email:
Student Administration; Telephone: 01206 873745; Email:



External examiner

Dr Anne Elizabeth Worthington
Middlesex University
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 30 hours, 27 (90%) hours available to students:
3 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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