Play in social workers’ psychodynamic therapy supervision

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Various studies in the science and culture fields have long recognised the power of play in facilitating human development and therapeutic processes. This paper focuses on the developmental potential of play in psychodynamic therapy supervision for social workers who function as therapists, but its conclusions might be applied to supervision of other social work interventions. It is suggested that play is represented in supervision by an illusion shared by the supervisor and supervisee of their complete togetherness in the supervisee’s clinical struggles and clinical responsibility. This element of play temporarily reduces supervisees’ sense of loneliness in their responsibility for clients’ welfare and for the integrity of therapeutic processes. This illusion is healthy and growth promoting when supervisees acknowledge reality and when, by repeatedly experiencing this illusion, they assimilate it into their professional self. Through such a process, supervisees eventually internalise a professional community of supervisors, colleagues, and writers, who become symbolic representations that can be projected onto reality and facilitate professional interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-308
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Social Work Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 GAPS.


  • Play
  • loneliness
  • professional development
  • shared illusion
  • supervision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Drug guides


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