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Buechler, S. (1996). Supervision Of The Treatment Of Borderline Patients. Contemp. Psychoanal., 32:86.

(1996). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 32:86

Supervision Of The Treatment Of Borderline Patients

Sandra Buechler, Ph.D.

ACCORDING TO MARTIN BUBER, Education worthy of the name is essentially education of character. For the genuine educator does not merely consider individual functions of his pupil, as one intending to teach him only to know or be capable of certain definite things; but his concern is always the person as a whole, both in the actuality in which he lives before you now and in his possibilities, what he can become. (1965p. 104)

Using this broad definition, we would have no problem considering analytic supervision a particular example of the educative process. Ruth Lesser's (1984) question of whether the goal of supervision is primarily educative or therapeutic seems to evaporate. Both teaching and treating have as their aim the education of character.

But when we ask how we should educate character in analytic supervision, we are again thrust into the dilemma of how far to go in considering supervision akin to treatment. Is the essential task in supervision the resolution of those conflicts in the supervisee that might countertransferentially interfere in the therapeutic enterprise? Or is supervision the teaching of a method of doing treatment, leaving the resolution of the supervisee's conflicts to his or her own analysis? Is the supervisor something of a cotherapist? Roy Schafer suggests this: "there is only so much you can supervise if you don't have a reasonably orderly analysis developing. And that sometimes takes fairly active participation by the supervisor to see that that happens" (1984p. 230). Is it the responsibility of the supervisor to get the treatment on the right track, or is this, in John Fiscalini's (1985) phrase, "analysis by ventriloquism, " in which the supervisor attempts to treat the patient, using the supervisee as a kind of conduit?

Regardless of how we define the supervisor's responsibilities, if we assume that supervision is basically an educative process, with character change as its goal, what sort of character change is involved? It seems likely that, to some degree, this will depend on the type of pathology presented by the patient.

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