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Black, M.J. (2003). Afterword. Psychoanal. Dial., 13(3):367-375.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 13(3):367-375


Margaret J. Black

Psychoanalytic Supervision, Probably More Than Any Other Aspect of our field, carries the tradition of our profession. The supervisor has a hefty responsibility. Charged with knowing and effectively teaching the theory of psychoanalysis, creatively integrating that theory into psychoanalytic technique, modeling the best of a psychoanalytic process by effectively guiding the student's clinical work, the supervisor is also expected to interact with the supervisee in an intellectually evocative, curiosity-inducing, respectful yet challenging, growth-promoting manner. Holding both the wisdom of the past and the felt revolutions of the present, the supervisor sees in the supervisee a potential emissary to the future with capacity to contain, enliven, and further develop the brilliant clinical sensibilities that have characterized the best of psychoanalytic practice.

Sweeping change and reformulation in theory and technique have characterized our particular tenure in the field. It's impact on the project of supervision and on the experience of the supervisee trying to learn the complex craft of clinical psychoanalysis is still under consideration. Historically students were envisioned as undergoing personal transformation during psychoanalytic training, creating multiple identifications in the process, but eventually yielding, perhaps to the prevailing tradition of their training institutes or to the powerful identificatory pull of the transference to their training analysts, and organizing around a particular established theoretical model. We can easily appreciate the dilemma of students coming of age in this culture of theoretical diversity. Now the voices of mentors with whom a student might identify are not only multiple but often contradictory. And, I might add, the field continues to change.

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