The teaching and learning philosophy at IPI is based on the Affective Learning Model, developed from object relations theory, as it has been applied to groups, and from extensive experience with group process in many different contexts. The model represents an innovative way of teaching object relations theory and practice by presenting concepts in a large group and learning from experience in a small group. It’s an open-system (influenced by feedback), multi-channel (using theoretical and clinical presentations, slides, videotape and process notes of clinical sessions), cognitive-affective (using intellectual and emotional routes to knowledge), individual and group teaching model.
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|Object Realtions Theory||Affective Learning Model||Empirical Support|
See below to learn more about the Frequently Asked Questions of Affective Learning Model and IPI’s overall approach to teaching and learning.
Can you say more about tuning the therapeutic instrument?
Does IPI's affective and experimental learning help us connect more vitally with our patients?
How do you see practice enhanced by the affective learning model?
"Affective learning required me to bring out my capacity to deal with uncertainty and mystery, with the as-yet unknown and the unknowable."
"I experienced and examined in depth with others who cared as much as I did how conflicts and patterns operative at one level of the institution are echoed in others. Through personal experiences that were painful, exhilarating, and everything in between, I began to hone my ability to recognize the unconscious at work."
"I could hardly believe it when women in this small group were making complaints and talking about their needs without feeling ashamed of themselves. I revisited my paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions as I struggled to overcome my deafness and dumbness in the strange situation of the affective learning small group."
"It has made a tremendous difference in my work with patients and students, and in my group. I can see it even helps me in my own family.” “I realized what a richer experience a lecture is, if there is time for people to free associate."
"A patient of mine had to bear my frequent absences. On the verge of my fourth trip, she told me: 'I used to suffer a lot when you went to Washington and left me… Now I don’t care too much because when you’re back, you know more.'"
Here's how one of the distinguished guest speakers described the model:
"The affective learning model is taken in by the individual through personal introjection, it lives on externally by repeated attendance at conferences, and it creates for the participants a personal membership in an ongoing inner world training institute."
How does the affective learning model enhance the application of theory to practice?
At that moment, a member said that she was engaged in the task and appreciative of the group, yet she felt that something was missing. The group leader asked the group to consider what that might be. There was a silence of about five seconds and then two members simultaneously exclaimed, “Sex!” The group members then noticed that while apparently working together closely and intimately discussing related topics, they had been relating as if there were no gender differences in the group and as if they had no sexual feelings. The group came to see this as a here-and-now example of hysterical phenomena.
In didactic presentations of theoretical and case material, the speaker emphasized family and personal history, patterns of defense, and reenactments of old scripts. In the small group, participants associated to past influences on learning. A Catholic woman said she had tuned out when the presenter raised the issue of dealing with patients’ spiritual needs. She reported that she had become able to engage in the large group discussion of that topic only after she recalled being taught in parochial school that only Protestants questioned the word of God.
A man whose father was never home had not been a good student and still had trouble paying attention. Why was he able to remain engaged and learn the material in the group settings of the affective learning model? He said that he was more able to learn in this group not just because of the welcome male presence of two older men as group leaders, but also because the group’s feelings and fantasies about the men as leaders and authorities could be discussed. When difficult feelings didn’t have to be held in, he found they no longer blocked the energy needed for learning with these leaders.
An inexperienced therapist who gave lucid vignettes of her clinical work in the small group, surprised the group when she said she had not been able to describe her work in previous seminars, or even in groups specifically for supervision. Building the group alliance and attending to the group process made the environment safe enough for her to try out a new capacity.
Here’s an example of some personal learning that occurred in response to the group. Group members were surprised and irritated when a brilliant, valued woman participant missed a session in a cavalier way with no regard to the impact of her absence. Even when she was present, she appeared and disappeared, one moment promising to talk in more detail about herself or her clinical work, and the next moment deflecting any requests for information. At the end of the group, she said that the group had helped her to see what an “exciting object” she was, in saying things of value, then missing a session, and then not following through on what she could talk about. She felt that her experience helped her understand the anger that she generated among colleagues and friends in her professional and personal life. She guessed that this behavior of giving and withholding, presenting and removing herself, could be upsetting to her patients who might either quit in the face of it, or stay unhealthily caught in the elusive object web. There was no attempt to explore the personal sources of this behavior, as would probably have happened if this were a therapy group.
As she left the conference, the woman realized that she had gained an unanticipated bonus from the affective learning process. She said to her group leader, “I learned even more about myself this weekend than I did about the conference topics. I didn’t get what I expected but, thank you, I got more than I could have ever hoped for.”
How is the affective learning model different than the models used in other programs?
How is the small group different from a therapy group?
How was the affective learning model developed?
The Affective Learning Model focuses on the individual student as the primary point of contact in the educational setting. While each student is responsible for their individual learning concepts are presented in a range of formats so that they have a better chance of relating to the material and learning it in their own style.
In the Affective Learning Model, each student learns in the large group setting of a lecture, in the median-sized group of a week-long institute, and in the small group that meets for discussion at a more intimate level. We use our knowledge of the functioning of groups and their unique characteristics at various sizes to both understand the process of learning and to help individual students with their incorporation of the material. Individual needs for learning, anxieties about learning, and defenses against learning in the various formats become as much the subject of study as the material being presented.
What are some elements of object relations theory that can be learned through group process?
What are the elements of object relations theory that lead you to a group model for teaching?
What is the distincitve characteristic of the group affective learning model?
The individual’s task in the small group is to discuss the material that has been read or presented, and at the same time to examine emotional responses to it. As each student attempts to do this, discussion follows, and a group process develops.
The group’s task is to observe the group process and discover how the individual’s inner world combines with the personalities of others to foster or impede the learning.
We find that the concepts being studied affect the person and the group, so that the concept gets illustrated in the behavior of the group. This allows for far greater understanding than the purely cognitive reception of material, and so greatly enhances the applicability of theory to the therapy practice of the individual therapist.
What is the theory base for the model?
Through this process, an internal model of relationships is built up inside the self which determines the way the person thinks and feels and perceives the world. It acts as a blueprint for future relationships. The inner world is built in childhood, continues to be modified through adulthood, and affects choice of marital partner, child-rearing techniques, and attitudes to work, sex, and play.
The inner constellation of parts of the self can be inferred from current ways of relating, with other individuals, but also in the group dynamic as students work together to understand and apply the concepts they are learning. In the Affective Learning Model, then, the group creates a laboratory for both the experience and the analysis of the ways internal models of relationships affect current relationships. In this way, the group experience becomes a perfect vehicle for studying and learning about the theory of object relations.
We hope you’ll join us for a lecture, a weekend conference, or the full program and experience Affective Learning yourself.