Skip to main content

CPSP Plenary 2009-The Tavistock Group

CPSP Plenary 2009

“Tavistock” is the label commonly given to a particular type of group seminar that follows the tradition of Wilfred Bion and his colleagues who were geographically based in a section of London called Tavistock.

The basic premise of the Tavistock approach to group work is that ownership of the group belongs to the membership, and that the consultant(s) will take a posture “outside the group” and will make consultative contributions to the group as a whole, not to particular individuals. A consultant in the Tavistock model does not take a leadership role in the specific work of a Tavistock group, but does provide consultation as well as protecting the boundaries of the group with regard to time and space. A Tavistock group relations seminar has the character of a laboratory in that a specific time and place is set apart to do a specific kind of disciplined task.

The traditional Tavistock group (so-called) is the closest thing to a sacrament that the Plenary has---an action symbolizing things that are complex and difficult to fully define.It is a combination free-for-all, Quaker meeting and psychoanalytic couch.

In the CPSP Tavistock group no hierarchy exists. There is a center, middle and fringe. Any voice may be heard, and all voices are subject to interpretation, analysis, or rebuttal, but no voice should be quashed.

If no words are spoken in Tavistock we should not consider that to be a failure. We should simply contemplate the meaning of the silence.

The non-hierarchical structure of Tavistock well symbolizes the CPSP community.

We hope that the willingness to dare to do creative work in the Tavistock group will also reflect the commitment of the CPSP community.
No subject is out of bounds in the Tavistock meeting.

CPSP: “Promoting competency and accountability in the clinical pastoral tradition”

Popular posts from this blog

Edwin Friedman Thinking Systems

What I want to do this morning is talk about how congregations function like families. I am going to do it from a variety of points of view. I’m going to begin with a fable. This one is called "Burnout" and it’s about a fish tank with a scavenger fish in it, you know a scavenger fish is supposed to keep the fish tank clean. I’m trying to be as realistic about it in my use of language as possible so I hope that you will appreciate that.

Once upon a time there was a scavenger fish that lost its taste for shit. (I don’t think I have to read the rest of the fable. You all got the message already!) It was your normal, garden-variety scavenger and had never previously shown any signs of being different from the other members of its species. It lived in a normal-sized tank with the members of several schools and, from the very beginning of its association with this ecosystem, seemed always to be in perfect harmony with the environment. It never got in the way of the others and they…

ACPE CPSP Mediation Agreement Broken



The leadership of CPSP regrets to inform you that the mediation process between CPSP and ACPE has broken down. The Mediation Agreement which was signed with high hopes in Philadelphia, November 30, 2010, by the leadership of both organizations, and which created a good spirit and considerable optimism in the larger clinical pastoral field, has been critically breached.

The rupture has come about as a result of a threat from ACPE against the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center's chaplaincy program as it goes for re-accreditation in January. The medical center’s clinical training program is directed by John deVelder has been accredited by ACPE for several decades. DeVelder is a certified CPE Supervisor with both ACPE and CPSP credentials. He is a prominent clinical pastoral supervisor, well-respected, past President of CPSP and former Chair of the COMISS Network.

The hospital was informed by ACPE th…

Increasing Trend to Secularize Chaplaincy

There has been an increasing trend in the pastoral care movement to move away from chaplaincy and pastoral care in favor of promoting and providing "spiritual care." Many hospital departments have changed their names to reflect this shift in philosophy and practice.

Spirituality circumvents religion and promotes chaplaincy as a generic practice. Religions are messy. They have rules, doctrines, beliefs, ethics---some of which are flawed to be sure. But religions usually stand for something. Spirituality is an amorphous thing, an oblong blur, with implications of cosmic connection, but with no price tag---no demands no dogmas, and no ethics. Not even a dogma demanding justice and mercy. The only perceptible doctrine promoted by the spirituality movement is that people should feel good about themselves.

At its best the clinical pastoral movement teaches religious professionals to be available to everyone. It also teaches them to be critical of all religion---but dismissive of …