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Imber, R.R. (1995). The Role of the Supervisor and the Pregnant Analyst. Psychoanal. Psychol., 12(2):281-296.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 12(2):281-296

The Role of the Supervisor and the Pregnant Analyst

Ruth R. Imber, Ph.D.

A middle-aged, divorced supervisee began to talk about her patient but instead referred to her “painter.” The slip was no mystery. She was about to move her office into a new apartment in which she would also live and was at least as preoccupied with selecting paint colors, carpets, and other details of the move as with her patient. As she began to talk of the excitement and anxiety she felt regarding her new home, it became obvious that her concerns did partially involve the patient. Specifically, she worried about the effect on the patient of going from sessions in an impersonal office (the analyst's current location) to an office in her home. What if the patient encountered the analyst's dog? What if the doorman talked inappropriately about the analyst to the patient? What if the patient discerned her analyst's marital status? How would patient and analyst deal with the probable disclosure of personal aspects of the analyst's life?

It seemed to me that the supervisee needed help with her anxiety, not just in terms of technical recommendations, but also with a focus on her fear of exposure. Sharing my own experience when I moved my office into my home helped put the discussion on a more personal level. One fantasy the supervisee formulated with me was that the patient, an unmarried woman, would use the discovery of the therapist's unmarried status as a way to denigrate and devalue her just as the patient devalued herself for being without a man. This anxiety involved the supervisee's own conflicts about being unmarried as well as a realistic recognition of her patient's dynamics. Further discussion led to the supervisee's awareness that she had avoided carefully listening for material related to the patient's fantasies about the move ever since she had told the patient when it would take place.

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