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Beckett, T. (1969). A Candidate's Reflections on the Supervisory Process. Contemp. Psychoanal., 5(2):169-179.

(1969). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 5(2):169-179

A Candidate's Reflections on the Supervisory Process

Thomas Beckett, Ph.D.

MY THINKING about the subject of supervision and training was stimulated by recent meetings at the William Alanson White Institute between candidates and faculty members representing the curriculum and training committees. I have attempted to extend some of the thoughts provoked by those discussions, and to consider some general issues about the process of supervision. Writing as a candidate midway in his training, it is my intention to raise and explore some questions rather than to propose answers.

In this paper I attempt to assay the following points:

1. Becoming a psychoanalyst is a process of self-appointment; each candidate must assess where he is in his development and what he needs to work on to further that development.

2. The effectiveness of supervision depends upon the working alliance between candidate and supervisor and upon the way each participant handles his own transference reactions in the situation.

3. Factors which hinder the development of a working alliance in the supervisory situation may arise from sources in the supervisor or the candidate.


Becoming a psychoanalyst is a process of self-appointment. Any work or professional commitment is characterized by this process; it is not unique to psychoanalysis. The concept of self-appointment implies internalized requirements or standards to which one aspires. From this viewpoint, becoming a psychoanalyst connotes a quality of being, an intentionality, rather than the acquisition and mastery of certain tricks and techniques.

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