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Transference and Clinical Supervision Part 2

Transference and Clinical Supervision Part 2

You yourself, depending on your own level of training and experience as a supervisor, may be unaware of the influence you exert on supervisees. You may feel anxious about how you are perceived and responsible for the ‘good work’ of your supervisees. Unconsciously, therefore there may be temptation
to act into the role of the wise and infallible supervisor, especially if you feel threatened by your own lack of experience.

The other side of newly developing supervisees is that they bring fresh energy and new ideas, and this may be threatening to long established supervisors who have become very set in their ways. The temptation here may be to put supervisees ‘in their place’. Kadushin [1968] has pointed out that the field of supervision is rich in opportunities for game playing and this can include supervisors as well as supervisees.

Therapists trained in the person centred tradition are trained from the beginning to make use of the relationship in terms of congruence or genuineness. They would be trying to be aware of all that was happening within themselves at any given moment in the session and feeding this back into the relationship if they felt it appropriate. The problems occur in the supervisory relationship however, where there are more feelings and awareness to hold onto.

Meams [1991] outlines the many possibilities in the unspoken relationship for transference and countertransference material to get in the way:

1. Unclarified differences of opinion about the aims and
practice of supervision

2. The therapist’s unvoiced reactions to the supervisor

3. The supervisor’s unvoiced reactions to the therapist

4. The therapist’s unexpressed assumptions about the

5. The supervisor’s unexpressed assumptions about the

6. The therapist’s unexpressed assumptions about how the
supervisor experiences the therapist’s behaviour

7. The supervisor’s unexpressed assumptions about how the
therapist experiences supervision

Thus there are layers and layers of potential misunderstanding. In supervision especially the relationship often goes un addressed because of the assumption that the overriding concern is the client’s material. There is also the concern that the supervision may be converted into therapy, therefore any discussion of possible transference and countertransference is avoided.

A strong supervisory alliance, however, is one in which it is recognised that at any moment from session to session, and particularly in review sessions, it may be useful and necessary to focus on the relationship obstacles.

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