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Ellis, S. (2017). Apprehending the Translucent in the Art of Supervision. Brit. J. Psychother., 33(3):297-311.

(2017). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 33(3):297-311

Apprehending the Translucent in the Art of Supervision

Sian Ellis

The supervisory relationship is complex and multi-layered, given the multiple sources of unconscious dynamics between patient, supervisee and supervisor. The concept of the parallel process has brought greater depth and understanding to the supervisor's countertransference as reflective of the dynamics within the analytic relationship. The tendency, however, is to consider the parallel process as occurring in one direction only: from the analytic relationship into the supervisory one. In this paper, I consider the multidirectional movement of transference and countertransference between both relationships, including where the supervisor might be the point of origin, rather than the recipient. Clinical material from two patients brought to supervision is analysed from four different vertices: the parallel process; the developmental aspects of the supervisory relationship and of the supervisee; my own potential transferences onto the supervisee and/or the patient; and the potential effect of my transference onto the supervisee, the patient and their interaction. I also refer to some paintings by Richard Diebenkorn, as these offer a powerful metaphor for understanding the challenges in supervision of creating a secure frame, while also allowing for a more ‘translucent’ space, within which the multi-layered dimensions can be imagined and become capable of continual transformation.

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