Theme: Authority and Leadership in Recovery from Mental Illness and Addiction


Director: Jeffrey D. Roth, MD

Associate Director: Suma Jacob, MD, PhD

Assistant Director for Administration: Mary Walker, PhD, MA, LPC


China Association for Mental Health, Division of Group Counseling and Group Therapy

The University of Chicago Center in Beijing


An experiential conference in the Tavistock tradition, offering a unique opportunity to study group and organizational processes through exploration of interpersonal, intergroup and institutional relations that develop within the conference itself.  The bilingual program in English and Mandarin provides access to cross-cultural challenges for learning about authority, leadership and unconscious phenoma, particularly as they relate to the theme of recovery from mental illness and addiction.

Rationale and Aims

As we work in groups, families, schools, organizations, institutions, community and other social systems, our participation takes on different meanings that influence our thoughts, feelings and actions. The confluence of meanings powerfully affects the identities, roles and authority that we take up. Effective participation, leadership and meaningful exercise of authority require more than intellectual and technical understanding.  The aim of the experiential Group Relations model is to provide a well-defined context within which to examine group-level forces and dynamics, as they occur in the here-and-now.


The conference is organized as a sequence of group and inter-group interactions, designed to support the study and understanding of authority in groups as well as one's own reactions to exercise and encounter with authority.

  • Small Group: examines the life of a 9-member group as it unfolds. A consultant assists the group with the task.
  • Large Group: consists of all Conference members with a team of consultants, and meets to study its own behavior in the here-and-now in a situation in which face-to-face interaction is problematic or impossible.
  • Institutional Event:  members form their own groups to interact with other member groups and with staff, wherein the primary task is to study authority, leadership and overt/covert processes as groups evolve and interact in the here-and-now.
  • Review/Application Group: consists of 5-7 members with one or more consultants. An opportunity for members to reflect on experiences and roles in Conference events, and relate them to work roles in community and institutional settings.
  • Mutual Support Meeting: members and staff elect to attend open Workaholics Anonymous and/or Codependents Anonymous meetings. An opportunity to compare and contrast dynamics of a mutual support group with a small or large study group.

The conference is designed to provide an integrated learning experience. Learning occurs not only during individual conference events but also from their sequence and relationship to one another; therefore membership entails a commitment to attend all events.


  • How people join and engage in group work, delegate and resist authority, and develop roles and reputations.
  • How people contribute to and obstruct getting the group's work accomplished.
  • How members of a group exercise authority, power and influence in meaningful and appropriate ways - both as leaders and as followers.
  • Group collusion in the creation and enabling of maladaptive roles.
  • Group support for recovery from these maladaptive roles.

For effective application of conference learning, having two or more people from the same organization in attendance is often useful.

StAFF ROLES and responsibilities:

  • Take up specific directorial, managerial and consultant roles.
  • Act collectively as management.
  • Provide and maintain boundary conditions for engaging in the primary task.
  • Offer interpretations and working hypotheses about what is happening in here-and- now events, and contribute in whatever ways they believe will advance the work.


New information: To accommodate incoming applications, the registration deadline has been extended to April 26, 2016.

Enrollment will be limited to 54 members; early registration is advised. Withdrawals and cancellations after April 26, 2016 will not be refunded unless the position is filled by someone on a waiting list. 

Reference Letter: Each applicant must provide a letter of reference from someone who can vouch for his or her capacity to participate in an intensive Group Relations Conference learning experience. The applicant is responsible for seeing that this letter is submitted before April 26, 2016. Letters should be sent via e-mail to:

Payment of Fees:  Members applying from China may register for 3500 CNY, and members from outside of China may register for $700 (US), payable to the University of Chicago Center in Beijing. For information regarding method of payment, contact the Assistant Director for Administration at Fees must be received by April 26, 2016.

Registration Form: Applicants must also fill out and submit the online registration form:

Please include country and area code
Please list previous conference experience. If none, please write "none."
Waiver *
Participation in any Group Relations event can be stressful. If you are currently under stress, you may want to attend a similar event at a later time.


University of Chicago                Center in Beijing                  20th Floor, Culture Plaza
No. 59A Zhongguancun Street
Haidan District Beijing 100872 People's Republic of China




China American Psychoanalytic Alliance, China

Chinese Association of Group Psychotherapy, China

China Association of Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment, China

Group Relations Australia, Australia

Institute of Mental Health, Beijing Medical University, China

International Leadership Alumni Conference (ILAC), USA

International Yi Shu Expressive Arts Healing Research Center, Soochow University, Suzhou, China

Japanese Association of Group Psychotherapy, Japan

Mental Health Education and Counseling Center, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China

oezpa Institute Gmbh - Akademie & Consulting, Germany

The Institute of Psychoanalytic Systems Psychotherapy, Japan

The Tavistock Institute, UK

University of Chicago, Department of Psychiatry, USA



Leslie Brissett, PhD

Leigh Estabrook, PhD

Seth Harkins, EdD

Daniel Ming-Hui Hsu, PhD

Suma Jacob, MD, PhD
(Associate Director)

Dannielle Kennedy, LICSW, PhD

Ilana Litvin, MA, MSc

Brigid Nossal, PhD

Hüseyin Özdemir, PhD, Dipl Oec

Jeffrey D. Roth, MD, FAGPA, FASAM (Director)

Allan Shafer, MA (Clin Psych) D Litt et Phil.



Mary Walker, PhD, MA, LPC (Assistant Director for Administration)

Xioahua Lu, EdD