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SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

On-line version ISSN 2071-0763
Print version ISSN 0258-5200


CILLIERS, Frans  and  HENNING, Sanchen. A systems psychodynamic description of clinical psychologists' role transition towards becoming organisational development consultants. SA j. ind. Psychol. [online]. 2021, vol.47, n.1, pp.1-10. ISSN 2071-0763.

ORIENTATION: Clinical psychologists' transition from practising in a clinical context to a large organisation implies an intensely experienced professional identity shiftRESEARCH PURPOSE: To provide a systems psychodynamic description of the lived experiences of a group of clinical psychologists' role transition towards becoming organisational development (OD) consultantsMOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY: Although the role of clinical psychologists in organisations is theoretically explicated, limited research exists on their role transition experiences. Their lack of theoretical knowledge about and experience in organisational psychology make them vulnerable for exclusion and isolationRESEARCH APPROACH/DESIGN AND METHOD: A hermeneutic phenomenological research design using a collective case study, consisting of eight clinical psychologists, was used. The data gathering methods included a Listening Post and socio-analytic interviews. Systems psychodynamic data analysis was performedMAIN FINDINGS: The manifesting themes related to experiences of diverse and intense anxiety, defensive structures, role, task, boundary and authorisation conflicts as well as solitary pilgrimages. Participants experienced an attack on their personal and professional identities, a sense of being overwhelmed, excluded and isolated from their colleagues and peersPRACTICAL/MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS: The findings will facilitate clinical psychologists' transition into OD roles and organisations' awareness of their identity challengesCONTRIBUTION/VALUE-ADD: Although employing clinical psychologists in OD roles is practised in many large organisations, the findings suggest that their transition into this role is underestimated in terms of emotional intensity

Keywords : clinical psychologists; role transition; OD consultant; systems psychodynamics; qualitative; hermeneutic phenomenology.

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