Creating Space for Immersion in Group Dynamics

  • Event

1137 S Cochran Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Co-sponsored by GREX, AKRI, and the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House. Organized by Vivian Gold (Director), Dannielle Kennedy (Associate Director) and Andrea Fraser (Administrator)

The MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House and GREX presented a three-day intensive experiential group relations conference in the Tavistock tradition. In the spirit of architect R.M. Schindler’s experimentation with social space as well as built space, the conference explored social dynamics in a unique architectural structure. Unlike conferences featuring panel discussions and lectures, this conference was structured to create an environment in which participants¬†learned directly from experience. Small group, large group, and inter-group events gave conference members opportunities to experience and reflect on powerful group dynamics as they unfolded. Meetings designed for review and application provided further opportunities for understanding and integrating the learning into everyday life.

Based on the work of psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion, conferences in the Tavistock tradition combine social research with psychoanalytic theory and practice. This model of experiential learning examines unconscious as well as conscious aims that impact the emotional and working lives of groups. It provides opportunities to explore how we authorize ourselves and others to feel, speak, act, lead, and follow; how social identity and role intersect; and how we create and challenge the boundaries of task, time, territory and self. The primary task of managing and administrative staff is to create and hold the conference structure. The primary task of the consulting staff is to provide members with opportunities to examine the nature of group dynamics experientially, as they unfold. The primary task of conference members is to learn what they choose to learn.

The Tavistock method has its roots in post-war efforts to understand the social and psychological forces underlying cooperation, conflict, and aggression. The first experiential conferences were developed in the 1960s at the Center for Applied Social Research of the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations in London by A. Kenneth Rice, Eric Miller, Isabel Menzies Lyth, and others. The method was brought to the US by a number of people, including Margaret Rioch and others who established the A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems in 1970.

Group relations conferences in the Tavistock tradition provide powerful, intense, and lasting experiences with authority, power, conflict, collaboration, role and identity in groups, institutions, and politics from the personal to the global. They have played an important role internationally in the training of psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, psychologists, organizational theorists and consultants, educators, clergy, activists and, with this conference, potentially artists and architects as well.

Creating Space for Immersion in Group Dynamics was co-sponsored by the A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems and its West Coast affiliate, GREX (meaning “flock” in Latin), together with the MAK Center for Art and Architecture.

About the conference organizers

Vivian Gold, Ph.D (Director) is a clinical and consulting psychologist and Associate Clinical Professor in the Psychiatry Department at UCLA. Dannielle Kennedy, Ph.D (Associate Director) is an organizational consultant based in Cambridge, MA. Andrea Fraser (Administrator) is an artist and Professor of Art at UCLA.

For further information about AKRI and GREX, visit and


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