Supervision is one of the three pillars of a therapist's psychoanalytic formation, along those of their personal therapy and training in the settings of a programme of studies of academic form, including usually the attendance of seminars and a written assignment/ presentation upon a clinical case.
It is very important to differentiate the aim and function of each one of those three dimensions, in order to make the appropriate use of supervision. This is not always easy, since there seem to be many common trains among those dimensions. For example, both in supervision and in personal therapy, we address a psychoanalyst chosen for specific reasons, we speak there about a subject's suffering and difficulties and we expect from our interlocutor answers that will enlighten us or alleviate our suffering. At the same time, in our personal therapy we might refer to incidents from our clinical practice, which are troubling us, aiming at an interpretation of our difficulty and a solution to it. On the other hand, we may expect from supervision to give us knowledge or help us understand or clarify the already acquired theoretical concepts, substituting thus the merely educational dimension of our formation as a therapist, which takes place in training.
Yet supervision is not and should not be treated as a substitute for neither personal therapy nor training. Nor should it be viewed as a dimension of lesser importance to the other two. Hence in the framework of Lacanian teaching it has been declared as equal to the other two, making up the aforementioned triptych.
It is, as in the other two dimensions, a unique experience. An encounter between two subjects, the supervisor and the supervisee, who have a clinical practice. The reasons that lead the supervisee to pursue this encounter are varied: they may be diagnostic; the supervisee might be asking for directions for the beginning of the treatment; it may regard a crisis in the patient; a 'stumbling' in the treatment or transference, or even in what is called 'counter-transference': that is, the way the patient impacts the therapist as a subject.
Whatever the reason behind an encounter of supervision, the supervisor will offer the supervisee the opportunity to unfold their speech about the subject with whom they are working and articulate the questions or worries that stem from the encounter between the supervisee and their patient. And thus hear the way that they have themselves conceived and transmit the case to a third person.
As in psychoanalytic therapy, the effects of this encounter are not, and should not be considered, as predetermined. The young therapist who comes to supervision should be prepared, and even hope, that they may receive different answers to the ones they had in mind. Jacques-Alain Miller points out that the only way to learn something is if we hear something that is not inscribed to out pre-existing framework of understanding; in other words, to what we were already ready to understand.
Supervision in my practice can take place in Greek or English, in person or via the internet.
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