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Transference and Clinical Supervision

Transference and Clinical Supervision

A common problem in the supervision relationship is that there may be an inadvertent mismatch between supervisee and supervisor, based on personality traits, gender, race, sexual orientation, cultural and class factors. Some of the problem is due to the number of therapists needing supervision and few supervisors practising, so often the supervisee has very little choice, this is more evident in some geographical areas more than others.

Conn [1993] discusses some of the gender issues in supervision, for example, the fact that managers and senior practitioners are still more often men than women and that when they supervise women, they are likely to transport patriarchal attitudes into the supervisory relationship. In this instance, the transference would be coming from the male supervisor side and the countertransference from the
female supervisee.

Because there is often a perceived or real difference in power in the supervisory relationship, the supervisee may suppress anxieties or questions for fear of being judged or seen as lacking in competency. The supervisee may, unwittingly, relate to you as an infallible senior practitioner, which may reinforce your sense that you are working well, even when this may not be the case.

An important factor for attention in the supervisory relationship, with regard to transference is the developmental stage of the supervisee. Beginning therapists may be reluctant to voice any doubts or criticisms. You may be perceived as an all knowing and invariably correct authority with the power to assess or fail.

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