Serendipitous social learning instead of a dinner speech

We were at the conference dinner of the psychotherapy network in DC earlier in March, where we had been invited to create some side conversations at the conference on social learning …

It’s a massive conference (around 3000 people) and the dinner was a big affair. In that environment it made sense to have a speaker. Jane Fonda was scheduled to give the dinner speech, but news came that she wasn’t going to show up.

On learning that she couldn’t make it the organizers created what we thought was a great social learning activity – and that turned out to be much better than a keynote. Two of the big names in the Psychotherapy network played some video snippets – from the Soprano series, the film Analyze This, and In Treatment (HBO series). After each snippet we were invited to discuss at our dinner table the following questions:

  • what’s happening?
  • what boundaries are being crossed?
  • did the psychotherapist do the right thing?

Feedback from a couple of tables after each snippet was followed by comments from the two big names, playing the role of facilitator.

Certainly the dinner discussions at our table moved beyond polite chit-chat and networking. We’d bet that more meaningful conversations happened than what would have done with an after- dinner speech. It also surfaced some whole room consensus that the profession is not very well-represented in the media.

Lesson learned for creating conversations about practice?

Invite big names to talk at your event – and then hope they cancel! 🙂

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