At the end of November I attended a group psychotherapy workshop in Palma de Mallorca. Organised by a group analyst from Palma, Joan Coll, it brought together participants from various parts of Spain, Portugal, Germany, the US and the UK. The theme was “Trabajando en grupo. Nuevas perspectivas” (Working in goups- new perspectives). Through lectures and discussions in small and large groups. we explored how the cultural and social unconscious emerges in communications and relationships, as well as how group psychotherapists from different countries understand their theoretical foundations and how this is reflected in the way they work. A contribution that I found particularly interesting was by Professor Elisabeth Rohr from Germany, who talked about her work as a supervisor with health professionals in South Africa, Guatemala and the West Band. She showed how her position as an outsider allowed her to recognise unconsciousbarriers to effective work, which were rooted in the social conflicts of each country.
Palma is not necessarily a place you go to for professional purposes. But for me it was an eye-opener to look beyond the tourist attractions and to meet colleagues who, like myself, work with people who need help with their emotional and mental helth problems. I came back inspired by the beautiful winter sunlight and the warm welcome I received. I think it is important to get out of one’s own professional comfort zone, to learn about how colleagues from other countries think and work – although doing it all in Spanish was quite a challenge for me!