【What is a Group Relations Conference?】
Group Relations Conferences are temporary organizations (created for the duration of the Conference), for learning through direct experiences.
The conferences provide a unique opportunity to explore interpersonal, group and organizational processes in a setting optimally designed to facilitate it.
The members and staff of Group Relations Conferences learn about the complex issues they have set out to deal with from their experience as it is happening.
There is no formal teaching, no lectures, no required reading material; there is mental, emotional and physical experiencing as the data for learning.
Thus, the overall task of the conference is learning through and from experience in the "here and now".
This implies that each member's learning is unique and is accepted or rejected on his or her personal authority. Through this process members can reconsider the ways they exercise their authority, their leadership and followership and their responsibility in various systems of their everyday life. Learning based on direct experience helps the members obtain individual insight and understanding not otherwise available, which is applicable to the roles they have at work, in the family and in society.
Naturally, the depth and range of this kind of learning depends largely on each individual's willingness, readiness and courage to look inwards (to introspect), to try to formulate his/her/their insights and to examine them in the different groups in which he/she/they take part. It is therefore likely that each member will experience the learning differently.
The conference offers a variety of settings to facilitate different learning experiences. There are groups of various sizes with differing tasks. The learning takes place through direct interaction and through observation, through reflection and introspection.
We conceptualize the conference as a subsystem of the larger socio-political context (the larger system of society) in which it takes place. In this Taiwan conference we learn about authority and leadership in its geographical and international contexts, specifically under threats to autonomy, identity, and existence. To do so we, members and staff, use ourselves, our relationships and our shared group experiences to explore the issues.
Our theoretical assumption is that the microcosm or fractal can tell us a great deal about the macrocosm, that a system and its subsystems are inextricably connected.
The range of learning is therefore wide and occurs in two broad areas.
Learning about oneself – how one functions in groups, in organizations and in society; when one feels, thinks and behaves in ways that lack flexibility and freedom; at which junctions one tends to get stuck; which formal or informal roles one tends to assume or take up. This learning may expand inner freedom, thereby improving the taking up of leadership roles and the exercising of authority and influence.
2. Learning through personal experience about the dynamics of groups of different sizes, communities, organizations and society as a whole. All of us live and work in groups and organizations, beginning with the primary group we are born into – the family.
Getting to understand the visible and the hidden, the overt and the covert, the rational and the irrational, the conscious and the unconscious processes that influence individuals, groups, organizations and society, helps one acquire new ways of observation and understanding, new lenses that sharpen the view of new perspectives.
【Who is the Conference for?】
Participants of conferences come from different professional spheres. There are those who are or strive to be in directorial and leadership roles. Some come from the business sector, some from the academic world; others from the private, public or non-profit sector. Some are students preparing themselves for professional life. Some are human resources students, trainees or specialists, organizational consultants, group facilitators, teachers, medical professionals and researchers, educational and clinical psychologists, and individual and group therapists with different education, work methods and toolboxes.
In fact, each of us, as a member of groups and organizations, can benefit from the experiential learning the conference offers.
The conference is a space where one can experiment with new forms of behavior, observe outcomes and reflect on utilizing them in everyday life.
Joining the conference does not require any prior experience or any theoretical knowledge. All that is required is curiosity and a passion for learning.
Language is an aspect of a system and a source of learning in a Group Relations Conference. In addition to verbal language, we also pay attention to other methods of communication, including non-verbal and unconscious languages. In this conference, Mandarin will be the primary verbal language. Each non-Mandarin-speaking consultant will be paired with an interpreter and consultation in English will be interpreted into Mandarin. Consultation in Mandarin could be interpreted into English if needed. Interpretation will not be provided for exchanges among members. Members may draw language support from the system where available.
【Concepts and Methods】
The Conference is a social organization or institution. Social institutions are created and designed by people to meet needs or purposes. We influence the organizations we take part in, and they, in turn, influence us.
To achieve the aims of an organization or institution an internal structure is formed consisting of roles, tasks, and leadership and authority formations, each with their own boundaries and areas of intersection.
The aims of an organization, its internal structure, the roles and the delegation of authority in it are usually explicit, overtly and consciously stated. Simultaneously however, hidden or covert aims, needs, roles and influences materialize. These elements which are mostly unconscious, may exercise power and influence over the behavior of the organization and its members. Difficulties in the functioning of the system or unexpected resistance to change may be the first evidence of the existence and influence of unconscious aims and hidden power positions.
The influence of unconscious processes is particularly powerful in times of significant social and organizational changes. In such periods reliance on traditional and familiar patterns may prove unhelpful and may undermine adaptation and integration. The breakdown of the familiar creates uncertainty and anxiety but is also an opportunity for creativity and innovation.
Whether in a position of leadership or followership, the responsible exercise of authority requires that we become more aware of our own contributions to these conscious or unconscious processes.
The conference is a temporary organization created for a specific purpose: learning. It is an organization that has a short life but is in many ways similar to larger and more enduring organizations with which we are all familiar.
Like other organizations, it has a primary task. The primary task of any organization refers to the purpose, the raison d'etre of the organization and defines its main activity. Based on the primary task it is possible to evaluate the development of the organization, its efficiency and its success in attaining its goals.
The primary task of this Conference is learning from experience in the here and now about the conscious and unconscious aspects of authority and leadership under threats to autonomy, identity, and existence.
Our exploration and learning take place in this country's polarizing society and of our tumultuous times.
Our Conference, our temporary organization, is also like other organizations in that it is composed of people who meet and work in various groupings, hold different roles and accomplish a variety of tasks. It is designed so that the processes that take place within it can be continuously scrutinized. Our understanding is based on the assumption that members, through the examination and interpretation of their experiences within the conference, will widen and deepen their understanding of their own organizations and the roles they take up within them.
Authority. Authority is here defined as ‘the right to make decisions and take action’. The sources of authority are among the topics examined in the conference. Authority can derive from inside or from outside – from within the person or from external sources, from "above" or from "below” – from superiors (parents, teachers, commanders, directors), or from subordinates (children, students, junior colleagues), and from formal or informal sources.
Assuming authority is always a result of an “internal drama” involving internalized relations – conscious and unconscious – with significant authority figures (such as parents, siblings, teachers), from the present as well as from the distant past, and from benevolent or traumatic experiences that left a mark, even when ostensibly forgotten.
The conference, in its totality and in its various work units, will provide ample opportunity to experience and observe the exercise of authority.
Leadership. Leadership has to do with the individual’s ability to identify the needs of the group or organization, to contain the emotional aspects of the situation, to forge meaning, to offer a direction, and to try to lead a group or a larger system in the direction offered.
The qualities of the leader, as well as the internal and external conditions that enable or prevent the assumption of leadership may be examined during the conference.
Role. Role is a structure defined by the organization or the society in order to fulfill an organizational, psychological, or social function.
Every role has a formal and an informal aspect. The formal aspect is aimed at serving the primary task, and at integrating into the organizational hierarchy – for example manager, supervisor; the informal aspect may derive from psychological and social needs that are not directly related to the primary task – for example to be a caregiver or a scapegoat. Therefore, it is often the case that the two layers –the formal and the informal – are in conflict. The way a person deals or copes with this conflict defines to a large extent his or her working style, and may affect the quality of their work and their feelings about it.
Boundaries. Boundaries separate (but are also the place of intersection) between the inside and the outside, the self and the other, one’s own identity – personal, familial, cultural, religious, political, ethnic etc. – and the identity of others. Boundaries define and separate individuals and groups, tasks and roles, an organization and the larger environmental context in which it operates. Boundaries distinguish between the person as a whole and a role s/he/they take up, mark the extent of one’s authority, and delineate the domain of leadership.
Boundaries can be rigid or flexible, open or closed, permeable, semi-permeable or impermeable. Metaphorically, boundaries are not a “line” but a “space,” a “border zone”. A boundary can be experienced as “a danger zone” or conversely, as “a safety zone”; it can be perceived as a sign of exclusion, or as a reassuring demarcation of where one’s internal or external territory end, and the territory of the other begins. Boundaries can be experienced as limitations or restrictions, or as a protecting measure, a container that enables constructive and creative functioning.
Either way, the boundary space of a system requires management.
The concept of, and attitude to boundaries, borders and limits are dramatically changing in a world where virtual reality, globalization and neo-colonialism gain progressively more power, and change our understanding of human limits and limitations, a world where the unification of a continent and the abolition of differences are gradually and systematically taking place, while in other parts of the world groups fight for their survival, fortify their boundaries, and subdivide into ever more tiny identity groups or tribes.
We will examine these topics as they manifest in our experiential conference, in the context of dynamic processes, both conscious and unconscious, manifest or hidden.
Organization. Organization is a construct that exists in reality. From the early days of human civilization organizations have been formed for the purpose of regulating and synchronizing the greatly varied personal needs of the individuals comprising them.
For an organization to fulfill its objectives, it needs certain structures to regulate the operation of its component parts. These formal structures
include definitions of roles and tasks, organizational hierarchy, division of authority, allocation of jobs, and setting of boundaries. All these represent the formal, overt aspect of the organizational structure.
Naturally, not all the parts of an organization are out in the open. The organization has a mental existence which by its nature dwells in the space between fantasy and reality, between dream and action, in the boundary zone between the inner world and external reality. "Underneath" the formal layer of the organization there exists an informal one; covert processes take place below the overt ones. Some of these covert processes are unconscious. This may be thought of as “the organization-in-the-mind”.
The impact of the dynamic forces (conscious and unconscious) on the life of the organization and on its constituent individuals is very powerful; these forces influence organizational culture, impact the way members take up their roles and affect members’ ability to take leadership and assume authority.
While members ostensibly support the declared policy and goals of the organization, they are sometimes subjected to covert, subversive processes which cause disunity and animosity and undermine all their efforts. Support and sabotage often coexist, as do cooperation and conflict. There are intricate interrelationships between the organizing aspect of an organization and the unavoidable chaos from which the organization is born, in which it exists, and to which it might return.
Unconscious. Unconscious is defined here as a space or function in the mind of the individual, group, organization or society which remains outside consciousness. The unconscious is replete with emotions, wishes, thoughts, memories, drives, and fantasies that are kept outside of consciousness to prevent mental anguish, anxiety, conflict, guilt, shame, etc. Still, the unconscious shapes much of the communication between people, and influences the behavior of the individual, group, organization and society mostly without their awareness.
Relationship and Relatedness. These are two concepts which describe different dimensions of interpersonal, relational life. Relationship refers to the actual or real interpersonal exchanges and engagements that occur between people as they take up their roles and perform the associated tasks. Relatedness refers to the assumptions – usually unconscious – that people have about each other as they go about these engagements. Relatedness refers to the unconscious mental assumptions one has about others.
The working assumption of the conference is that people and groups, aside from their conscious and concrete actions, tend to perceive unconsciously, and to attribute or project fantasies, wishes, fears and unwanted feelings, onto and into other individuals and groups.
As a result, what we might think of as emotional systems – relatedness – may develop alongside actual transactions – relationships - between the individual, the group, the organization and society. These systems greatly influence the experience of the individual, as well as the functioning of the organization and of society as a whole.
【The Structure and Design of the Conference】
The structure of the conference is derived from its primary task and is designed to facilitate learning. The design includes various group experiences which provide opportunities for experiential learning about the themes of the conference. Some of the events focus on learning in the here and now, others are designed to enable reflection on the learning process and to link this process with the outside world.
In this conference, here and now events include Small Study Group, Large Study Group, Intergroup Event, and Organizational Event.
Small Study Group (SSG). The SSG consists of 7-12 members working with one consultant. The SSG provides opportunities to investigate inter-personal relations and reactions as they occur and develop in the face-to-face encounter of a small group.
The primary task of the SSG is to explore the emerging dynamics of the small group in the here-and-now as they relate to the theme of the conference.
Large Study Group (LSG). The LSG has the characteristics of a crowd. It provides the opportunity to study the emotional, mental and physical experience of being in a crowd. All members of the conference work with three or four consultants.
The primary task of the LSG is to explore the emerging dynamics of the large group in the here-and-now as they relate to the theme of the conference.
Intergroup Event (IGE). In the Intergroup Event, members have the opportunity to explore the dynamics of the formation of groups, and the emerging relationships and relatedness between them. Staff members participate as consultants in the event.
The primary task of the IGE is to explore, in the here-and-now, the formation of groups and the relationships and relatedness that emerge and develop within and between the groups.
Organizational Event (OE). The Organizational Event is a temporary organization within the conference (which is a temporary organization in itself). All conference participants, members and staff, take part in it.
The OE provides opportunities for groups and their members to interact and experience roles of authority, leadership and delegation. The event offers possibilities to explore processes and interactions among groups in the system, including the sub-system of the management group. It also enables the exploration of the nature of the organizational culture that develops and its meaning, the way the organization uses its resources, and the way authority and leadership influence political organizational processes.
The primary task of the OE is to explore, in the here-and-now, the taking up of authority and leadership as well as the formation of groups and the relationships and relatedness that emerge and develop within and between the groups that form in the temporary organization during this event, as they relate to the theme of the conference.
In this conference, events linking the learning in the conference with the world outside include Opening Plenary, Closing Plenary, Personal Reflection Interval, System Reflection Event, Community Event, and the Review and Application Group.
Opening Plenary (OP). The primary task of the Opening Plenary is to reflect on and share one’s experience of crossing the boundary from the world outside into the conference space and work.
Closing Plenary (CP). The primary task of the Closing Plenary is to review, reflect on and share one’s individual learning from the conference and to share one’s experience of crossing the boundary from the conference space and work into the world outside.
The Personal Reflection Interval (PRI). The Personal Reflection Interval gives the members an opportunity to be on their own and introspect – listen deeply inwards, with the aim of forming preliminary understandings about oneself and the system.
The primary task of the PRI is to listen to oneself in an attempt to generate one’s own insights about oneself in relation to different parts of the system and to the system as a whole.
The Systemic Reflection Event (SRE) offers the space for all conference participants, members and staff, to reflect on the conference as a system, using all experiences and learning, in order to enable the exploration of the conference as a whole, and of the systemic dimension as influencing the experience of the individual in the system.
The Primary Task of the SRE is to share together and reflect on the conference and its parts as a system with subsystems as well as on the broader system of society, using the experiences generated in the PRI and in other parts of the conference.
Community Event (CE) is a space provided for all participants of the conference, including members and staff, to express and exchange their conference experience/learning through artistic creation such as painting, writing, composing, drama performance, physical movement, singing, etc.
The primary task of the Community Event is to express and articulate the conference experience/learning through individual or collaborative artistic creations chosen by the participants.
The Review and Application Group (RAG). The Review and Application Groups enable participants to review their work and experiences at the conference. They can then relate, compare and apply these experiences to experiences in the world outside the conference.
The primary task of the RAG is to review one’s learning in the conference, and to apply the learning to everyday context or systems.
【2023 Taiwan GRC Schedule】
【The Role of the Staff】
The staff of the conference has two roles:
It works as the collective management of the conference. In this respect all staff members, as individuals and a group, have the authority and the responsibility to provide the boundary conditions of space, task, territory and time, in order to work in the various units of the conference towards the attainment of the Primary Task of the conference.
The staff members as individuals take up specific roles as consultants, directors or administrators. As consultants one of their roles is to propose working hypotheses about ongoing processes, based on their observations, experiences, and professional understanding, in any way they deem conducive to the advancement of the learning process and to the attainment of the Primary Task.
All conference staff take up consultancy roles in addition to their other roles.
【Conference's Staff team】
Ming-Hui Hsu, Ph.D.
Director of Dayin Counseling Services in Taipei; Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from New York University; Consultant in group relations conferences in New York, London, Tel Aviv, Beijing, and Hong Kong; Associate Director in Changsha GRC in 2019 and China e-GRC in 2020; Associate Director of three consultant trainings in China 2018-2019; Co-Director in the Inaugural Taiwan GRC in 2018, and Director in Taiwan e-GRC in 2021; Reviewer, Chinese translation of Bion’s “Experiences in Groups.” Founder, Group Relations Taiwan; Member, AKRI.
Daphna Bahat | Clinical Psychologist, Supervisor, Consultant to organisations| Teaches psychotherapy and the Psychoanalytic-Systemic Approach for groups and organisations in various institutions | Leads workshops for women's empowerment using dance | Co-founder 'TouchOFEK' | Past Chairwoman, OFEK, Israel.
Assistant Director of Administration
Vincent (Wei-Ting) Hsu, MSc.
Counselor at Taipei Medical University Student Counseling Center. MSc in Counseling Psychology from Fu Jen University. MSc in Management from Swansea University. BSc in Biology from Imperial College London. Interpreter of 2018 Taiwan Group Relations Conference. Interpreter and Interpreter group convener of 2021 Online Taiwan Group Relations Conference. Member of 2022 OFEK Passion and Purpose Conference. Member of numerous Group Relations workshops. Member of promotion team, Group Relations Taiwan.
Jinette de Gooijer, PhD
Psychodynamically-trained organisational consultant, working for many years with leaders, managers and teams in the public and community sectors. She is a founding member and Past President of Group Relations Australia, and has directed and worked on staff of group relations conferences in Australia and internationally for over 20 years. Jinette is the author of several articles and a book on organisational dynamics.
Dr. Winnie Fei, Ph.D.
Academic leader and CEO of Tavistock Institute China. PhD in psychology of religion, Peking University. Tavistock Institute UK Consultancy and Change Practitioner. Singapore group psychotherapist.
Existential-integrated interpersonal interacted group therapist, supervisor. Group Supervisor and Therapist certified by Irvin Yalom Institute, USA. Committed to apply Tavistock system dynamics and methods to Chinese organizations, field of health and education, etc.
Daphna Bahat（as above）
Graduated in psychology from the Jagiellonian University (Poland) and in management from AGH University of Science and Technology. A certified facilitator (IAF), trainer and consultant (Edexcel and BTEC Professional Qualifications), and psychotherapist a certified Psychodrama Therapist. He is a consultant in Group Relations conferences. Artur has many years of experience in designing and conducting training programs and supporting organizations in transition.
Ming-Hui Hsu, Ph.D.（as above）
Yu-Kuang Kevin Hsu, Ph.D.
Professor, Psychology Dep., National Tsing Hua University (NTHU). President, Taiwan Counseling Psychology Association (TCPA). Director, Taiwan Association of Talent Assessment and Development (TATD). Postdoctoral Fellow, Counseling and Human Services, University of Maryland. Ph. D. Counseling & Guidance, National Changhua University of Education. Licensed Clinical Psychologist & Mental Health Counselor, Taiwan. Interested and learning on teaching, supervision, and research of group dynamic, counseling, consultation, and psychotherapy process.
YIN JEN LU (Ian Lu), MEd.
Counseling psychologist, Secretary of Group Relations Taiwan working group. Member of OFEK 30 International Group Relations Conference, and OFEK 31 International Group Relations Conference Advance Training Group. Trainee of Group Relations Consultant Training in China. Assistant Director of Administration of the Inaugural Taiwan Group Relations Conference in 2018. Small study group consultant of online Taiwan Group Relations Conference in 2021. Chinese Association of Group Psychotherapy Group Relations workshop consultant.
Ray Wu, MEd.
Master of Educational Psychology and counseling, National Tsing-Hua University. Associate Director of Administration in Taiwan GRC in 2018 and 2021. Completed training as a consultant for small study group in the Group Relations International in 2021.Adjunct lecturer for group dynamics courses at National Tsing-Hua University in 2020 and 2023.Member of the Chinese Association of Group Psychotherapy. Currently working as a freelance counselor, providing counseling and mental health-promoting services to various organizations
Yu-An Wang, MA, LMHC, LPCC, NCC
Born and raised in Taiwan and currently living in Los Angeles. Private practice psychotherapist in Los Angeles, non-profit long-term care case management consultant and trainer, AKRI board member, affiliate representative, and secretary. Graduated from Master of Counseling at Northwestern University. Trained in psychodynamic, group psychotherapy, somatic experiencing, mindfulness, multicultural, and social justice-oriented approaches. Has participated in Group Relations Conferences as a member, administrator, cultural interpreter, consultant-in-training, co-consultant, and consultant throughout the USA, China, Taiwan, and Israel since 2014. Also interpreter and teacher in CASSGO 4th Group Relations Online Seminar and associate director and teacher in CASSGO 5th Group Relations Online Seminar. Members of AGPA, AKRI, GREX, and co-creator in GRI.
Yu-Ting Huang. Secretary of Chinese Association of Group Psychotherapy.
Hungul Piring. Master of Divinity 1st year student. Yu Shan Theological College & Seminary.
Information about the three interpreters will be available in the conference brochure provided at the conference.