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Multiple Roles: Conflicted Interests

Group Relations Australia

Sunday 15th April 2018 - Tuesday 17th April 2018

Melbourne, Australia

Group Relations Australia
Sponsored by Tavistock Institute of Human Relations
and Sponsored by The Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australasia

Primary Task
Role of Staff
Info & Fees
Web Sites


This experiential conference aims to help professionals, academics and managers to work more effectively in multiple roles, with multiple groups, where there are sometimes conflicting interests.

Professionals acquire their training in a certain field of expertise. When they are employed, however, or take up a professional role in their field, they find themselves having to manage a variety of other roles for which they have not been trained. Whether they work in education, at a university, a hospital or in private practice, as psychoanalysts or psychotherapists, they discover that managerial roles are also required. This means either having to fulfil managerial tasks and functions personally, without much pertinent preparation, or cooperating with a manager who is not necessarily familiar with the requirements of the professional's role and expertise. Conflict between professional expertise, managerial tasks, and economic pressures may ensue, both within a person and between people in an organisation.

In universities, for example, the necessity to attract funding, from fee paying students and research grants increases the management pressure on academic staff. As professional educators, academics can be conflicted as to when the individual in their classroom is in the role of student or the role of ‘customer’. These different roles produce different and competing demands and responses. The customer can expect the promised knowledge, skills and competencies for which they have paid handsomely, to be delivered painlessly. The educator may expect such outcomes to be achieved from the role of student, a role that requires exposure to one’s ignorance, the discomfort of new ideas and a struggle for mastery.

At the same time, academics in research or teaching roles have little formal, managerial authority and may feel under-authorised or under-supported when trying to change teaching or research practice and be concerned that any changes might threaten funding.

Similarly, a psychoanalyst or psychotherapist engaged in training young colleagues may enjoy conveying their expertise in the development of a trainee or candidate, but assessing the candidate's competence and reporting this to the education committee can create conflict over the need to evaluate and decide versus the need to understand and develop the trainee. Similarly, their expertise in observing and thinking about emotional processes can conflict with organising and leading a membership; or managing board decisions in a training institute.

In hospitals, there are dual lines of authority, clinical and managerial - which can create difficulties for the professionals and for the management staff. Clinicians can be caught in thinking that managers' activities are inevitable intrusions on practice, to be patiently or perhaps resentfully tolerated. As in universities, management roles can be seen in active tension if not competition with clinical or academic roles. Managers have to cooperate with professionals whose expertise they often do not share and who appear to them to "live in a different world" beyond the requirements of structural and economic survival of the organisation which the manager understands he has to guarantee. Such conflicting perspectives diminish effectiveness.

Likewise, Health and Safety professionals' ensuring good practice and regulatory compliance can interfere with the financial agenda of their organisation. Internal consultants may experience conflicts between the wellbeing and organisational development of an internal client and the task and policy demands of the organisation. Last not least, voluntary and paid staff in community-based organisations can have different views of the roles and tasks they are required to undertake

The variety and richness of these examples identifies the common tensions between academic, clinical or professional leadership roles, managerial roles and corporate cooperation. In addition the ways in which different roles are taken up is also shaped by organisational systems and societal contexts and by individual temperament, personality, experience and purpose - so that each member finds his or her own personal style in relation to their given tasks and roles.

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Conference Aims and Primary Task

This experiential learning conference aims at helping professionals and managers to work more effectively in their multiple roles, with multiple groups and to manage conflicted interests.

The Primary Task
To provide opportunities for participants to explore how they experience, take up and manage a multiplicity of roles and the conflicts between those roles. These may be experienced personally or interpersonally in the conference organisation.

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This aim will be achieved not by lectures and discussions, but by offering participants a range of methods for working together during the conference, in a variety of group settings. Participants can witness how they take up, manage and experience themselves - as well as others - in and between different roles and learn from their own as well as others' experience, with people of various organisational and professional backgrounds. The learning can then be applied to their ‘back home’ situations.

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The conference is designed for people in the helping, academic and educational professions who hold multiple concurrent roles in their organisations. This includes clinicians, psychotherapists, academics, consultants, managers in professional services, Board members and teachers in professional organisations and others.

The conference is intended to assist all those who find the multiplicity of their work role experiences intriguing or unsatisfactory and wish to improve it by learning with and from others from a variety of professional backgrounds.

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Role of Staff

Staff bring their interdisciplinary knowledge and experience to the work of the conference. Staff will have both managerial and consultancy roles - as they take responsibility for the conference organisation and offer consultation to various groups. Staff will assist participants to learn and to make sense of their experience of themselves in role within and between groups - in the here and now of the conference. This includes paying attention to both conscious and unconscious patterns of conflict within and between roles and groups.

The staff of the conference come from clinical practice, management consulting, academia and executive management. All are experienced group dynamics and systems psychodynamics consultants.

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The Program
Hours (To be confirmed)
Sunday April 15th 9.00am – 9.00pm
Monday April 16th 9.00am – 9.00pm
Tuesday April 17th 9.00am – 6.00pm

The purpose of this program is to explore multiple roles, the tensions and conflicts within and between roles, both conscious and unconscious. The conference is designed for experiential learning in the here-and- now. You will learn from your experiences through participation in a range of groups, some brief seminars and whole conference events.

Small Study Groups (SSG) are groups of up to 8 members with a consultant.
Their task is to study what unfolds in the group in the 'here and now', while working on the primary task of the conference.

Large Study Group (LSG) brings together the entire membership with several consultants.
The task of this group is to study what unfolds in the large group in the 'here and now', while working on the primary task of the conference.

Exploring Intra- and Intergroup Roles (EIIR) provides a setting in which members can explore and study the nature of their own and others’ roles both within their own group and between their own and other groups, in the conference. In this setting, members will be free to form groups according to their own thematic interests.

Role Analysis will take place in groups of up to 7 members with a consultant in order to help members reflect on the experience of the roles they and others have taken in the various events, including the possible conflicts inherent in this process.

Plenaries involve all members and staff.
The Opening Plenary introduces the conference and provides an opportunity for participants to enter into the conference, to explore and reflect on the experience of joining and taking up roles within it.
The Closing Plenary aims to review the conference experience with a view to its application back home and to work on the process of ending.


Conference Director and Consultant
Veronika Grueneisen  PhD
Psychologist, Training and Supervising Analyst, German Psychoanalytic Society (DPG) / International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA); Organisational Consultant, past chair of Institute for Psychoanalysis Nuremberg; past chair and current mem- ber Partners in Confronting Collective Atrocities (PCCA); Nuremberg, Germany.

Conference Associate Director and Consultant
Allan Shafer  MA (Clin Psych) D Litt et Phil.
Clinical Psychologist, psychoanalytic psychotherapist, clinical supervisor and socioanalytic consultant; Past President of Group Relations Australia; clinical member of the Victorian Association of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists, past Executive member of the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australasia, member ISPSO.

Conference Manager and Consultant
Greg Cook   BA, DipEd, BSW
Psychologist, organisational consultant and executive coach; founding director of the Centre for Leadership and Management (CLM); member of Group Relations Australia and past member of the Committee of Management

John Newton  BBus, MA, PhD
Freelance management consultant and author and formerly Assoc. Prof. in Organisation Dynamics at RMIT University; past president of Group Relations Australia and member of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations.

Tania Nahum  BA [Hons], MA
Clinical Psychologist, Individual and Group Psychotherapist and Socioanalyst. Member of Group Relations Australia, the Victorian Association of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists, and Australian Association of Group Psychotherapists.

Jenny Smith  BA, MAppSc (Org.Dynamics)
Head of HR in an Australian Energy company. Experienced internal /external OD consultant, executive coach, leadership development consultant. Member of Group Relations Australia and the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations.

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Info and Fees

Registration and Information

Registration, further information and discussion of any other concerns can be undertaken with Greg Cook, Conference Manager at or visit

Venue Glen Nevis - 18 Erin Street, Richmond, Victoria

Participants are expected to attend all sessions.

Accommodation and Meals
The Conference is non-residential. International and interstate members can readily find accommodation near the venue or in the Melbourne CBD. Nearby inner–city suburbs include East Melbourne, Richmond, Collingwood, Abbotsford, Cremorne. Lunch (all days), dinner (Sunday & Monday) and refreshments are included in the fee.

Public Transport
The conference venue is readily accessible by public transport. Maps, route numbers and a public transport app. are available from Public Transport Victoria
Trams – getting off at Punt Road, tram stop number 15.
No 48 North Balwyn from Collins Street
No 75 Vermont South / East Burwood

A short walk from West Richmond Station – on the South Morang or Hurstbridge lines or a slightly longer walk from Jolimont Station on the same line. A 15 minute walk from Richmond Station on Swan Street

There is no parking available on site at the venue and only time limited parking available in nearby streets. Parking is available at Epworth Hospital. The entrance is off Bridge Road and is open every day from 6am to 10.45pm.

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Web Sites

Group Relations Australia:
Conference information:

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