Energizing My Pastoral Batteries at NCTS-East -- By Rabbi Dr. Hillel Fox, BCCC, BCPC

24 Nov 2015 10:24 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

NCTS-East Tavistock Meeting: "Leadership and Membership in Diverse Organizations."

I recently was invigorated by participating in the outstanding National Clinical Training Seminar (NCTS) – East of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP) on November 2-3, 2015 at the Loyola House of Retreats in Morristown, NJ. Held in collaboration with the A. K. Rice Institute (AKRI), this year’s theme, “Leadership and Membership in Diverse Organizations,” explored the nature of our relationship with authority and the roles we take up in our own lives and how we fill them in a variety of settings.

I discovered that I was comfortable playing the role of the Silent Observer. I then took a risk and experimented playing a different role, one of Supporter-Encourager in the group. In the process, I became more aware of how I take up the “driver” and “passenger” roles and how the group dynamically develops “leaders” and “followers.”

Having attended only one other NCTS-East and just returning from the exceptional NCTS-West Group Relations Conference, I was really looking forward to experiencing this special conference which was chaired and coordinated by CPSP Past-President Rev. Dr. Francine Hernandez, Manager of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital. This was a working conference.  Diplomate Training-Supervisors led small groups where every chaplain presented a case in our small group. We later reported our learning back to the large group. We also experienced the Tavistock approach to engaging group dynamics in various gatherings and group settings. We were fortunate to have wonderful expert consultants from AKRI, including Program Director Dr. Howard A. Friedman, Dr. Frank Marrocco and Rev. Dr. Kimberley A. Turner. The program provided us with opportunities for experiential, didactic and reflective learning.

At the Opening Gathering and Presentation the task was introduced, and a theoretical framework for our work was provided. We divided into smaller Preview and Review Application Groups that worked together to understand where each individual fits in and applied our learning to back-home situations. I especially enjoyed these smaller discussion groups because they allowed for more intimate communication between members of the group. 

All participants and staff also met together in a Large Group to study our own behavior in the “here and now” and see how it evolves. Sitting in configurations of inner, middle and outer concentric circles, we were free to explore questions about leadership, power and authority, membership and participation, sub-group formation, and issues of social identity as they emerged. A final Large Study Group provided members and staff an opportunity to debrief and to reflect together on our experience.

I left this year’s NCTS excited, inspired and enthusiastic! There was warm collegiality and camaraderie amongst members, and ample time for professional networking. I made new friendships that I certainly cherish. I hope our close relationships will continue for many years to come.

See you at next year’s NCTS-East!


Rabbi Dr. Hillel Fox, BCCC, BCPC
Supervisor-in-Training Resident at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital