Temenos Conference Presentation: Max Hope

A way of being outside the therapy room? Exploring the potential of the person-centred approach in a wider context. 

Been quite a while getting to this presentation write-up from the Temenos conference – and I have to say that this one best fits my own educational context and Max Hope is something of a trailblazer for my own person-centred path, having completed a PdD, which I can’t wait to read – and she now works at the University of Hull, is interested in business and organisations, and calls herself a person-centred practitioner (Max learnt an in-depth person-centred approach in her time as a Temenos student). I hope Max would take it as a compliment – I have begun to call myself that, too... 

So, the presentation explored ‘wider applications’ of the person-centred approach (this a reference to bapca, who, thanks to Max, I discovered have a wider applications group, which I shall join tout suite) – again, some jottings and impressions: 
  • Non-directivity – not directing the education, like for instance, Summerhill (is this our ONLY example?), not compulsory lessons and so on – is important in therapy, but how does it work in organisations? 
  • Some things that are called ‘person-centred’ are not what we mean by pca (so, pc planning, care etc) 
  • "we don’t have a clear enough definition to challenge this language” (actually, I think we do, I think it is very clear and beautifully simple; the reason it hasn’t taken hold in education is that it would overturn everything that is currently understood as education... however, I think we could have an ‘in’ under the guise of enquiry-based learning, which is certainly at the centre of my university’s learning and teaching rhetoric (if not yet practice)). 
This next part is very powerful for me, a robust and convincing explanation of my own work context...
  • Max challenges the ‘organisation as machine’ metaphor, cogs in wheels, production processes etc, a systematic way in which things must get done (Morgen) – “plan, organise and control, control, control” How very like my own experience – the cog that doesn’t function well, must be hammered into shape or replaced. 
  • Prefers – and what’s not to prefer for human beings – ‘organisation as brain’ – self-organising systems, no leaders in the brain... so no single leader, less hierarchical – the leader provides a high degree of autonomy and relinquishes control to others – wheatley and kellner-rogers (a beautiful book) “in self-organisation, structures emerge, they are not imposed”


  1. Just found your write up for Max Hopes presentation at the Temenos conference, fantastic!

    John Wilson


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