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Davidson, L. (1987). Integration and Learning In the Supervisory Process. Am. J. Psychoanal., 47(4):331-341.

(1987). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 47(4):331-341

Integration and Learning In the Supervisory Process

Leah Davidson, M.D.

Psychoanalytic supervision-or “control analysis,” as it was referred to in the early days of psychoanalytic history-is as much a construct of its time, place, and current teaching climate as any other craft or philosophy one may care to examine. It is influenced by the Zeitgeist of current theoretical ideas, as well as those that have just gone out of vogue. The candidate and the supervisor are immersed in these influences before supervision begins and come to supervision with many established, preconceived ideas and interests not often made explicit on either side. These include interests in research and special topics, neurotic preoccupations, and also many cumbersome formulations.

Before the middle 1960s supervision involved the teaching of structural or psychodynamic orthodox models and their applications to the presented patient material. This has been called by Levenson (1982) the “algorythmic method” and described by Ruth Lesser (1983) as “supervisor knows best.” From the middle 1960s to the late 1970s, the focus shifted to countertransference issues in psychoanalysis and also in teaching and learning (Davidson, 1974). The unfolding of transference and character defenses took a second place for a while (Fleming and Benedek, 1966). This paved the way for our current involvement with the analyst's use of his or her own personality in treatment and, particularly in supervision, the issue of “parallel process” (Caligor, 1981). It is of interest to note that what appears to be a return to structural theory in the work of Jacques Lacan translates in practice into the use by the analyst of his own or her own countertransferential feelings with regard to the analysand's expression of relevant material-the issue of the person's “desire.” Whether the analysand addresses this issue or not determines the length of the hour which may be anything from a few seconds to 60 minutes (Richardson and Muller, 1982).

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