Psychodynamic supervision as narrative

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Psychoanalytic theorists in the narrative tradition have argued that psychotherapy cures not by exposing the past, but by replacing confused and disjointed stories with clearer and more harmonious ones. These views are grounded in a conviction that a personal narrative reflects one's inner organization and self-concept, bestowing meaning on experiences and the ways in which narratives are storied is what infuses the flow of life with meaning. The present paper suggests that the material a supervisee brings to a psychodynamic supervisory session meets the criteria for narrative, insofar as the supervisee organizes the therapeutic events, attributes meaning to them and then relates them to the supervisor. Also discussed in the paper are the prototypical methods used by supervisors to reorganize their supervisees' narratives of therapy and to replace them with more refined and appealing versions, by calling attention to certain issues and theoretical considerations. The paper recommends that supervisors refrain from “correcting” or dismissing supervisees' inconsistent and incoherent narratives without understanding the basic causes for such narrative “flaws.” It also proposes that supervisees' original narratives be enriched and enhanced through use of an approach which pinpoints instances of incomprehension in the narratives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-97
Number of pages21
JournalThe Clinical Supervisor
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Change of narrative
  • Psychodynamic supervision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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