The Cleveland Consulting Group

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Training Programs

Each newsletter, we will provide links to training programs in which the Cleveland Consulting Group, Inc. is directly involved.

Coaching Workshops
Gestalt Institute of Cleveland

Master's Degree in Diversity Management.

Leadership Development
Becoming an Effective Organizational Intervener

Leadership Development

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JULY 2008

In this issue we continue the discussion on parallel processes in organizational situations that can impact the coach, consultant, or consulting team. The focus is on projective identification and how not only are we part of the field; we are influenced by it as we
co-create it, consciously or unconsciously.

A chart comparing the underlying assumptions of Gestalt Coaching versus Gestalt Consulting has been included as well.

Highlighted professional and executive development programs are for programs at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland’s Becoming an Effective Organizational Intervener (BEI) and the Coaching Program. BEI is focused on increasing the effectiveness of consultants and executives. The basic issue is that to induce change we must interrupt the system or it will continue as it has been designed. Furthermore, BEI increases the effectiveness by enhancing the skills to influence others (employees, clients, etc.) whether you have formal power or not.

Enjoy the newsletter, and please forward the newsletter, if you know someone who might be interested. If this newsletter does not serve your needs, just click unsubscribe below.

Bountiful blessings

Herb Stevenson


Bottom Line of Coaching....


Parallel Processes in Organizational Situations

(continued from the May & June issues)
©Herb Stevenson
31 July 2002

Projective and Introjective Identification

Projective identification is a form of simultaneous transference/counter-transference that extends the idea of
co-creating realities suggested by field theory and Swann’s work. In this instance, projective identification occurs when an individual or group projects intolerable parts of the self onto another individual (an object). The individual (or group) maintains empathy with the projected parts, attempting to control the individual through the projection at a distance, by unconsciously inducing the other person to claim and/or act out the projection. In many instances, the transference to the other leads to the other’s identification with the projection and a simultaneous, reciprocal transference of the compatible aspects of the projection of the consultant to the client. (Scharff, 1992)

For example, an interpersonal client system engaged a Caucasian, female and an African-American Female. Both were professional consultants. The Caucasian, from prior situations had been observed to lean towards a pattern of being drawn to strong, African-American women. She noted that this was her way of learning to fully claim her power and more fully become a woman. In most every situation, what seemed like an expression of admiration, led to her being the brunt of other’s ire, especially if the recipient questioned the accuracy or motives of her statements.

The African–American woman appeared to enjoy power and often took a leadership position until her authority was questioned because her stories were rambling about the past instead of being present-centered. In such cases, she would withdraw from the position of power by becoming completely quiet or by passing the baton to someone else and then becoming quiet.

In a supervisory capacity to this interpersonal dynamic, the dyad was set-up for the Caucasian woman to be the client and the African-American woman to be the consultant, creating a power differential similar to each of their individual patterns. The client noted that her issue was claiming her power as a woman. Immediately following her statement, she began expressing her admiration for the consultant. Noteworthy is that as the admiration began to be expressed, the client’s posture shifted downward with slouching shoulders and into a subdued, if not subordinated, position. She spoke less, except to join comments about power with statements of “only if it were possible for me”. Simultaneously, the consultant began to assume the role of power by rising in her seat, speaking with more authority, confidence, and promises to help the client find and claim her power. As a dyad, the consultant and client implicitly agreed to stay at the interpersonal level of system, where the exchange was between them. In the moment, work around the issue of power was explored with the consultant providing most of the details of the ways and means of claiming one’s power.

Level of Systems Choice

Even though it could be construed that the work was not gestalt work, this was not the case. The consultant was quite skilled at working at the edge of the client’s comfort and some insights were discovered. However, after reviewing the work at the interpersonal level, I shared my internal experience of something else that seemed to happen. I noted the historical patterns (cited above) for both individuals and wondered if they had, at an intrapsychic level, agreed to swap alienated parts of themselves. Specifically, the client projected her sense of empowerment onto the consultant, who introjected it as if it were herself. In turn, the consultant, projected her sense of disempowerment onto the client, who, gladly introjected it as if it were herself.

The reaction for both was startling. The client immediately had a gut-wrenching ah-ha experience with a detailed release of childhood memories. She realized that as a child, she had been subordinated to her powerful mother. Every attempt to claim her power would result in a violent response from her mother. Over time, she learned to project her own power into others in hope that one day she would find her own power.

The consultant moved out of the confident leader’s role into a subdued state. After pondering the situation, she realized that she enjoyed other’s projection of power onto her. It enabled her to move out of the totally disempowered position of an abusive and violent childhood. In the case of Caucasian woman projecting power, it created a sense of racial empowerment, even though socially, power was not equally dispersed across racial lines.


Learning occurs through examination of here and now experience. Learning occurs best through focusing on the process of interaction rather than the content.
Awareness is the precursor to effective action; awareness leads to choice. Change in systems occurs only if members of the system are involved in the change process.
There is an inherent drive for people to behave as effectively as possible. The coach's task is to help them learn this. People in organizations have potential for solving their problems. The task of OD is to facilitate the understanding and utilization of this potential.
Growth is facilitated by the interaction of client and coach. The presence of the coach is a critical element. A climate of openness and trust is essential for a healthy work environment.
Growth occurs at the contact boundary, between what is known and that which is unknown or rejected. The feedback/action research model is the path to organizational learning and change.
Experimentation into new forms of experience is a critical source of learning. Pilots and other forms of experimentation are a critical source of learning.
Change is the responsibility of the client, not the coach. Change is the responsibility of the client, not the consultant.
Individual autonomy is crucial to healthy adjustment. The small group is a highly effective unit through which to bring about change.

In the next issue, we move into the last segment of this article on parallel processes to describe how we mirror, influence, and co-create our experiences.


Upcoming Workshops
& Retreats

Becoming an Effective
Organizational Intervener

For over thirty years, the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland has acknowledged and taught that successful leadership requires an indepth awareness of oneself coupled with the capacity to understand organization and system dynamics sufficiently to create effective personal and organizational interventions. Therefore, the basic premise of Personal & Organizational Effectiveness: Becoming An Effective Organizational Intervener is that through better interventions, individuals become more effective leaders.

Learn more on the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland's website, or download a PDF brochure here.

Coaching Workshops
& How to Earn Coaching Certification

The Gestalt Institute of Cleveland specializes in coaching training and offers a wide selection of workshops throughout the year, including certification. Find out more on the Gestalt Institute's website at .