Paper (parallel)


Friday 10 Sep 2021


5.00 - 7.00 pm


time start

Mrs Ekaterina Shapovalova

Mrs Ekaterina Shapovalova

Senior Lecturer, National Research University, Russia

MSc Management (LUBS, Leeds, UK), MA Psychology (HSE, Moscow) Psychodynamic coach and business consultant working with private clients and organisations, psychodynamic psychotherapist. Managing partner at Subcon Business Solutions, Senior lecturer on the Master’s Program ‘Psychoanalysis and Business Consulting’ at Higher School of Economics, Member of ISPSO, Board member and Certified Professional Business Coach of Association of Psychoanalytic Coaching and Business Consulting. Based in Moscow.


120 minutes

Tolerating the incompleteness of knowledge: experience of professional transition in coaches and consultants

Being psychodynamic coaches and consultants we always find ourselves accompanying processes of change and transition in our clients, individuals and organizations. Our own experience of professional transition into coaching or consulting practitioner should be used as a rich resource of knowledge about the unconscious dynamics of change. The paper presents findings of the author in her role as a senior lecturer at the Higher School of Economics (Moscow) Master’s on Psychoanalysis and Business Consulting which helps people of various professional backgrounds move to become coaches and organizational consultants or develop a consultancy stance in their current professional roles. Educational experience of the students includes experiential learning events conducted in the form of Social Dreaming Matrix and Social Photo-Matrix devoted to the topic of professional transition. The discoveries of one Photo-matrix and two Social dreaming matrices with students at different years are presented.

Certainly, group reflective practice helps beginning practitioners to join with their emotions and unconscious conflicts of the transformation process, help see and realize these difficult internal processes as normal and felt and experienced by other peers and thus be more able to cope in a less defensive way with the challenges of development and learning.

The author argues that working through unconscious internal conflicts of professional transition in a reflective space of the group setting helps coaches and consultants to deeply feel though the dynamics of change, with all the internal forces of resistance, and emotional turmoil and develop one’s negative capability to be able to withstand, allow and let go the anxiety and wait for new thinking to reemerge, in oneself and further – in one’s client.

The case of Social Photo-Matrix with the group of students in the final stage of their learning process became a space of containment for enormous anxiety, fear and aggression which got uncovered by the associations to the photographs taken with the topic of “On the verge of change” in mind. Participants were first stroke and then disappointed that the change process for them is “indeed that drastic as to other ordinary people”. The matrix allowed a lot of unspoken but felt emotions to surface, be experienced, and be contained. And the emotional dynamic of the Matrix could well be matched to the dynamics of mourning and change.

The two cases of the Social Dreaming Matrix with students in the middle of the study programme (between the 1st and the 2nd years of study) set the conditions for experiencing the emotional facets of change as a process of narcissistic injury and recovery through abandoning the phantasy of omnipotence, miracle and admitting the reality of imperfection and incompleteness.

In both cases the Matrix gave birth to profound metaphors to be taken by participants to help tolerate uncertainty and incompleteness both of the study process and of the new professional identity. Of the most picturesque images to that dynamics were the invasion of repetitive dreams with the same scenario of pressing the button (in associations “the magic button”) in an elevator and always getting to the wrong floor (in one SDM), and the image of a suitcase which it turns out impossible to be packed properly though more and more clothes and things are being put into it (in the second SDM). Interestingly the experience of professional transition in the COVID time in the most recent Social Dreaming Matrix (which took place in May 2021) was heavily influences by the pandemic dynamics and uncovered the deep traumatic nature of the change process.

We can all have very different life, professional and organizational experiences compared to that of our clients, and we don’t need our experiences to be namely the same to be able to understand them. But what experience needs to be shared – is that of reflecting upon the process of change, which for students and beginning practitioners opens doors for better understanding of their clients and increased capacity to contain, stay in uncertainty and tolerate the ultimate incompleteness of one’s own knowledge.








Session schedule




Paper presentation


Small group discussion; impressions of the paper and developing questions for the presenter


Discussion forum with the presenter; moderated for the speaker to elaborate their ideas


Discussion forum with the presenter; themes from the discussions




Whole symposium open reflection discussion 

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Parallel Paper Presentations

The following are presenting at this time

Knowing, not knowing, and virtual technology


Knowing, not knowing, and virtual technology: an “organisation on the screen”?

Sonja Blignaut Marietjie Vosloo


Towards fostering a Sense of Belonging in the Post-Pandemic Workplace

Want To Know What Lies Below-the-Surface! Really?


Want To Know What Lies Below-the-Surface! Really?

Tolerating the incompleteness of knowledge


Tolerating the incompleteness of knowledge: experience of professional transition in coaches and consultants

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