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Gorman, H.E. (1996). Interpretation of transference in psychoanalytic supervision. Free Associations, 6(3):379-402.

(1996). Free Associations, 6(3):379-402

Interpretation of transference in psychoanalytic supervision

Howard E. Gorman


Since the inception of psychoanalysis, controversy over the nature and purpose of supervision has resolved around differing attitudes to its didactic and transferential aspects. A polarity of opinion that formed the framework for this controversy aligned those analysts who saw supervision essentially as a didactic procedure, referring only unyielding countertransferential remnants to the training analysis, against those analysts who saw supervision essentially as an extension of the training analysis to analyse countertransferences in the supervised cases. This polar framework was at least applicable to supervision in psychoanalytic training but it was not extendible to emerging psychoanalytic psychotherapies which did not require a training analysis. Supervisors were forced to search for new ways to address supervisory difficulties and for new approaches to its didactic and transferential dimensions.

Although proceeding in various directions, this search has generally conformed theoretically and clinically to the spirit of the original polarity in denying to supervision an independent role in interpreting the transferences that arise within it (Goin & Kline, 1976). Although it is generally agreed that supervision has much in common with an interpretive and even a psychotherapeutic activity, direct interpretation in supervision tends to be viewed as inappropriate theoretically, intrusive clinically, and beyond the supervisory mandate (Ekstein & Wallerstein, 1972; Lewin, 1955). The idea that supervision of analytic psychotherapy might itself be an analytic psychotherapy has attracted little support (Tarachow, 1963).

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