Multiple Interactive Processes in Psychoanalytic Supervision
Eva P. Lester, M.D. and Brian M. Robertson, M.D.
It is generally agreed that the personal analysis of the candidate and the supervised analyses during training constitute the essence of psychoanalytic education. Both are “enabling” processes, different from the simpler transmission of knowledge in the form of psychoanalytic seminars, the long established tradition in psychoanalytic institutes.
Psychoanalytic supervision repeatedly has been the subject of discussion among analytic teachers, and there exists a substantial literature on it. A short historical outline herein will trace the major themes in the evolution of thinking on the subject. The thesis of this paper is that supervision is an interactive process with multiple reverberations among candidate, patient, and supervisor, as well as among candidate, training (personal) analyst, and supervisor. We believe that the dichotomy between “teach” and “treat,” as articulated in the literature, is artificial and that strict adherence to such dichotomous thinking does not promote the enabling aspects of psychoanalytic supervision. In most cases the candidates are not aware of their countertransference to the patient, or are reluctant to discuss any personal reaction, concentrating instead on reporting the material as “objectively” as possible.
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