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Astor, J. (1991). Supervision, Training, and the Institution as an Internal Pressure. J. Anal. Psychol., 36(2):177-191.

(1991). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 36(2):177-191

Supervision, Training, and the Institution as an Internal Pressure

James Astor, B.Sc.

In This Essay I contrast supervision which is part of the training of psychotherapists and analysts and supervision which is sought by the practitioner as part of their own development but independent of any training requirement. I have used the Society of Analytical Psychology as my model for the institution, but my reflections are not exclusive to this organisation. My preparatory reading for this essay has included the two volumes of essays by Isabel Menzies Lyth, Containing Anxiety in Institutions and The Dynamics of the Social (Menzies Lyth 14, 15). Additionally, I have had many discussions with friends and colleagues whose trainings have been with organisations other than the Society of Analytical Psychology. My work as a supervisor and teacher brings me into contact with students from the London Centre for Psychotherapy, the British Association of Psychotherapists, and the Association of Child Psychotherapists.


Just as there is nothing more unchristian than the history of the Catholic church to a Protestant, so there is nothing more unanalytic than the institutional history of analysis to an analytical psychologist. But the practice of analysis is enthralling. Supervision and training involve the relationship of the individual to an institution as well as to their own development. The focus of my thoughts and ideas revolves round the difficulties of keeping faith with the beauty of the analytic process in the context of institutional pressures.

Psychoanalysis was once revolutionary, just as Darwinism had been vis-à-vis religion. So unacceptable was it to individuals, so challenging to their ‘basic assumptions’—their unexamined attitudes—that the dominant establishment—the collective expression of these attitudes— and its organs, the institutions, campaigned against it.

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