January 24, 2018 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
141 Herrick Rd
Newton, MA 02459
Lauren Lukason
6172660953 ext 103

Enhancing Leadership in Organizations: Applying Systems Psychodynamics

12 Sessions: Wednesdays, Jan 24, 31; Feb 7, 14, 21, 28; Mar 7, 14, 21, 28; Apr 4, 11, 2018

7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

BPSI, 141 Herrick Road

Newton Centre, MA 02459

This program will be of interest to non-practitioners and practitioners at intermediate and advanced levels of training. Continuing Education credits are offered for physicians, psychologists, and social workers.

Effective leadership or consultation in an organizational context requires an understanding of such powerful factors as leader-follower dynamics, social defenses in response to primitive anxieties, tensions between work groups and basic assumption groups, and the interplay of roles, tasks, and boundaries.  The goal of this seminar is to introduce students to the analysis of unconscious dynamics in group life, using the conceptual tools of systems psychodynamics along with experiential learning and case examples. Systems psychodynamics, first articulated by Bion in the early 1960’s, is an interdisciplinary approach that draws on insights from group relations theory, psychoanalysis, and open systems theory. From these vantage points, we will examine the forces, conscious and unconscious, that shape behavior in groups and organizations, and that facilitate or hinder effective leadership or consultation. This seminar is open to participants from multiple disciplines including scholars, clinicians, management consultants, and organizational leaders and practitioners.



James Barron, PhD — Psychoanalyst Member, Trustee, and Faculty of the Psychoanalytic Training, and Fellowship in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy programs, BPSI. Former faculty member of The Levinson Institute for Executive Education. Private practice and organizational consulting, Brookline, MA.

Harry Spence, JD — Trustee Member, BPSI; Former Professor of Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Doctor of Education Leadership Program; Lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School of Government; Deputy Chancellor, New York City School System; Receiver, City of Chelsea; Receiver, Boston Housing Authority; Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Social Services; Court Administrator, Massachusetts Trial Court, and other public and private sector leadership positions. Long time staff member for group relations conferences.


Learning Objectives
After attending this program, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe critical aspects of Freud’s views of the intersecting psychological forces in individuals and groups.
  2. Summarize Bion’s elaboration of Freud’s views, with special attention to the unconscious phantasies associated with basic assumption groups.
  3. List the theoretical strands that are woven together to create the systems psychodynamic perspective.
  4. Critique the concept of social defenses as described by Menzies and Jaques.
  5. Explain the difference between roles and tasks in organizations.
  6. Compare the primary features of work groups to those of identity groups.
  7. Describe what is meant by sentient boundaries in a group or organization.
  8. List three factors in leadership/followership dynamics.
  9. Describe the dialectical tension between maintaining individuality in the group and belonging to the group.
  10. Link the concept of the work group to the concept of the depressive position.
  11. Link the concept of the basic assumption group to the paranoid-schizoid position.
  12. Anazlyze and discuss the interaction of organizational culture and organizational change.



Freud, S. (1921). Group psychology and the analysis of the ego. Standard Edition (Volume 18). Norton.

Bion, W. R., (1959). Experiences in Groups, in Group relations reader (1975), Colman, A. D. and Bexton, H. (Eds.). 1, 11-21.

Miller, E.J. & Rice, A.K. (1967). Systems of organization, In Group relations reader, Colman, A.D. and Bexton, W.H. (Eds.). (1975). San Rafael, CA: Associates Printing and Publishing, 43-69.

Jaques, E. (1955). Social systems as a defense against persecutory and depressive anxiety. In New Directions in Psychoanalysis. (Eds.). Klein, M., Heimann, P., & Money-Kyrle, R. London: Basic. Pp. 478-498.

Menzies, I. (1960). A case study in the functioning of social systems as a defense against anxiety, In Group relations reader (1975), Colman, A. D. & Bexton, H., (Eds.). 1, 281-312.

7:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Lecture/Presentation; 8:00 pm – 8:30 pm: Group Discussion.


Continuing Education

Physicians: This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. The American Psychoanalytic Association is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physician. The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this Live Activity for a maximum of 18 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION FOR ALL LEARNERS: None of the planners and presenters of this CME program have any relevant financial relationships to disclose.

Psychologists: The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This program fulfills the requirements for 18 hours of CE.

Please note: Per APA requirements, psychologists must attend 100% of a course in order to be eligible for continuing education credit.

Social Workers: Please contact the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute’s Administrative Office at 617/266-0953 or office@bpsi.org for more information.

Please note: Per NASW requirements, social workers must attend 80% of a course in order to be eligible for continuing education credit.

Licensed Mental Health Clinicians: NBCC clock hours are not available for this course.

Cancellation Policies & Procedures
Any program participant requesting their individual program registration be canceled, must submit their request in writing via email to Drew Brydon at dbrydon@bpsi.org. For fee-based events, a request for cancellation (and refund using the original form of payment) must be received no later than 48 hours in advance of the event. Requests received later than 48 hours prior to the event will not be processed or accepted. All approved refunds are subject to a $10.00 administrative fee.

If BPSI cancels an event, all registrants will receive a full refund of fees paid (no administration charge) no later than two business days following the scheduled date of the event, using the original form of payment.

Grievance Policy
Please address any questions or concerns about your experience at this or any program or event you have attended at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute to the Program Chair, via the Senior Administrator/Director of Continuing Education, BPSI, 141 Herrick Road, Newton Centre, MA 02459; office@bpsi.org; 617.266.0953.

The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, Inc., 141 Herrick Road, Newton Centre, MA 02459, does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, national origin or handicap in the admissions, administration of its educational programs, scholarship and loan programs or employment.