Psychoanalytic supervision: The intersubjective development

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The author argues that an intersubjective perspective on the analytic process makes the notion of purely didactic supervision, avoiding countertransference issues, untenable and that countertransference is both a clue to the analysand's psychic reality and a factor in its evolution. Supervision is seen as a highly personal learning process for both supervisor and supervisee and its emotional climate as a crucial factor in its evolution into a transitional space, generating new meanings. Supervision is portrayed as the crossroads of a matrix of object relations of three persons, of a complex network of transference/countertransference patterns. The avoidance or denial of the supervisor's subjective role in it, maintaining 'a myth of the supervisory situation', may make supervision stilted or even oppressive and stand in the way of resolving supervisory crises and stalemates. It is argued that several factors contribute to the conflictuality, of supervision for all partners (often including the analysand): the continuous process of mutual evaluation, the reciprocal fears of exposing one's weaknesses, the impact of the institute as a setting and the transferences it arouses and the inherent conflicts of loyalty for each participant in the analytic/supervisory triad. The resulting dynamics and relational patterns could become a legitimate and freeing topic in supervisory discourse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-290
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Psychoanalysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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