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Cooper, A. Witenberg, E.G. (1983). Stimulation of Curiosity in the Supervisory Process of Psychoanalysis. Contemp. Psychoanal., 19:248-264.

(1983). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 19:248-264

Stimulation of Curiosity in the Supervisory Process of Psychoanalysis

Allan Cooper, Ph.D. and Earl G. Witenberg, M.D.

OUR PURPOSE IN SUPERVISION is to teach students that the practice requires the creative use of oneself as well as a sound knowledge of theoretical and technical principles. Mastery of all these aspects of the process is essential to helping the patient toward change, which is, after all, the goal of treatment. The accumulation of knowledge alone is thus not enough. Nor is it enough for the analyst to understand the patient only in theoretical terms. Rather, the analyst must be able to communicate to the patient himself that he is being understood, or the analysis will become a static exercise in intellectual dynamics instead of a vibrant, meaningful experience. We teach students that such empathy (i.e., an understanding of the patient) can only be achieved if the analyst is able to observe his own responses to what the patient tells him in the session, and to use these observations as a sounding board while he listens. Then, and only then, can the subtleties and nuances of the patient's communications be really understood and utilized to expand his awareness.

Although in his own practice with patients, the senior analyst has comfortably mastered these skills—knowledge of theory, the use of techniques related to the theoretical premise, and the creative use of his own responses—in his role as supervisor, he has a more complex task. Whereas in practice it is up to the analyst to "see" his patient as clearly as possible, in supervision the supervisor must develop a picture of the patient indirectly from what the student tells him; he must develop a picture of the student, and he must be clear about the relationship between the student and his patient.

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