The first-ever Group Relations Conference, in the Tavistock tradition, to integrate “low-ropes” challenge course events.

This 4-day residential conference is designed to give you a unique experiential opportunity to discover how roles might shift when you involve both your mind and your body.

Led by a highly skilled and diverse staff, you’ll be able to work on how you exercise personal authority and leadership, while also finding time for reflection and rejuvenation in this beautiful retreat center on 100 wooded acres.

Conference Director: Barney Straus, LCSW

Associate Director: Dannielle Kennedy, LICSW, PhD

Assistant Director for Administration: Olga Konyakova, MSW

SPONSORED BY Loyola University Chicago, School of Social Work (Host) 

What makes this conference unique

Like most Group Relations Conferences, this one is designed to help people study the exercise of authority in groups and understand more about their own responses to authority.  However along with the more traditional group work, this conference will also include some Challenge Course events in order to help you bring not only your mind, but your whole body into the experience. A Challenge Course, which is sometimes also called a “low ropes course,” is essentially a series of problem-solving puzzles that are designed to be solved by a group of 10-14 people.  Not highly physically demanding, these challenges are usually stationed at different points in an outdoor area, and they’ve historically been used to explore and improve communication between group members, and to look at what roles people take on in the group. These events will offer an opportunity to explore how roles may shift as a group focuses on accomplishing physical tasks. These events will be co-led by a Challenge Course facilitator and a consultant, to assist the group in addressing concrete and intangible aspects of the group’s work. 


Conference registration includes four nights lodging on the 100-wooded-acre Loyola University Retreat and Ecology Campus with quiet walking trails surrounded by oak and pine trees, and a labyrinth, that you will be welcome to explore. All meals from dinner on Wednesday, through lunch on Sunday, are also included and are prepared using produce grown on LUREC’S own farm. Rooms are single occupancy, dormitory-style with shared bathrooms. Linens and towels will be provided.


Enrollment will be limited to 40 members; early registration is advised. The Conference is offered at reduced fees for faculty, students and employees of the host and sponsoring institutions, for students in general and for those able to register early. Register here.


Withdrawals after June 1, 2017 will not be refunded unless the position can be filled by someone on a waiting list. A $30.00 registration fee will be withheld to cover administrative costs in the event of cancellation.


The staff at the Conference is committed to meeting the needs of physically challenged members to every extent possible. NOTE: No special athletic ability is required for challenge course events.Please advise the Assistant Director for Administration of special needs by emailing loyolagrc@gmail.com


Experiential learning can sometimes be stressful. Therefore, individuals who are ill or experiencing a period of significant personal difficulty should forego attendance at this time. In addition to the completed Conference Registration Form, available at the conference website, each applicant must provide a letter of reference from someone who can vouch for his or her capacity to participate in an intensive learning experience. The applicant is responsible for seeing that this letter is submitted before June 1, 2017. Letters should be sent via e-mail to the conference email address: loyolagrc@gmail.com


30 CEU’s for social workers will be awarded by Loyola University Chicago.

30 CEU’s for psychologists will be awarded by Illinois Group Psychotherapy Society. 

The Illinois Certification Board will recognize 29.75 hours for the following categories: Counselor II, CARS II, MISA II, PCGC II, CCJP II, CRSS II, MAATP II, NCRS II, CFPP II 




JUNE 21-25, 2017



Loyola University Retreat and Ecology Campus,

2710 S. Country Club Rd., Woodstock, IL 60098

CONTACT     loyolagrc@gmail.com


  • Roosevelt University Department of Psychology
  • The A.K. Rice Institute
  • Chicago Center for the Study of Groups and Organizations
  • Midwest Group Relations Center
  • Illinois Group Psychotherapy Society
  • National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter
  • Intl. Association of Social Work with Groups
  • Corporate Learning Institute
  • MindBodyCo-Op
  • WorkingSobriety


EARLY REGISTRATION FEE = $900 (Before April 1, 2017)

REGULAR REGISTRATION FEE = $950 Faculty and affiliates of sponsoring institutions may register before April 1, 2017 for $800 and for $850 after that.

Students from the host institution may register for $500.00. Students from other institutions may register for $600.00.

Payment may be made by credit card. For alternative payment options, please contact us at loyolagrc@gmail.com

A limited number of partial scholarships will be available. Please send a letter of request to loyolagrc@gmail.com.