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Windholz, E. (1970). The Theory of Supervision in Psychoanalytic Education. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 51:393-406.

(1970). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 51:393-406

The Theory of Supervision in Psychoanalytic Education

Emanuel Windholz


Observations of students in supervisory training can provide essential data for a psychoanalytic theory of learning. The question is raised: how does the student learn in supervision? The dynamics of the supervisory constellation offer conditions favourable for experiential learning. This form of learning

is impressionistic, which makes its objectification difficult. The complex factors which comprise the supervisory constellation and obstruct the supervisor's judgement are reviewed. The so-called syncretic dilemma, which is responsible for misconceptions, is discussed. Two clinical examples demonstrate another difficulty: the influence of supervision on the patient's analysis.

The aim of supervision is the correlation and integration of theory and clinical material. A study of how this is accomplished by experienced analysts is necessary. Intensive clinical research cannot and should not be conducted during an analysis by the analyst or by the student in supervised analysis. The analytic process is perceived intuitively and can be an impressive feature of experiential learning.

A more intensive exploration of the student's process notes permits more insight into the analytic process. It is proposed that students can learn to use these process notes for a conceptualization of sequential events in a continuous case seminar. This approach was applied to the data presented in three clinical examples.

The various sources which influence the analytic and the learning process are exemplified by the clinical case material: the overriding effect of a patient's unusual capacity for self-analysis, the narcissism of another obstructing empathy and the interesting complications arising from a student's countertransference. A more accurate understanding of these influences could be expected from an intensive exploration of sequential data.

A project designated as the 'consensual analysis' is described. It is a comparative exploration of the notes of an experienced analyst with those of an observer. Their relationship is explained by a theory derived from the dynamic constellation which exists in supervision: the observer provides the analyst with a 'benevolent analytic superego' and an 'auxiliary observing ego'. Being uninvolved he can 'see' and explore what the analyst could not and should not observe. By refraining from supervising the analyst, the observer safeguards his objectivity. It is suggested that advanced students may benefit from participation in such a project by applying it to their unsupervised cases.

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