Visibility in supervision

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Analytic theorists have highlighted the significant contribution of the affirming and validating gaze of caretakers to the personal and relational development of those in their care. In contrast to this perspective, thinkers have also suggested that the caretaker’s gaze might objectify, shame, dominate, and debilitate these individuals, especially when they cannot reciprocate the gaze. I will examine this ominous aspect of the gaze in supervision, where supervisees present intimate therapeutic interactions, whereas supervisors, who closely observe their supervisees’ work, usually refrain from sharing such interactions. I will discuss the shame and persecutory fantasies awoken in supervisees by the asymmetry of visibility in the supervisory space. Furthermore, I will suggest how supervisors can alleviate the tension created by this asymmetry by adopting the position of negative capability, which facilitates an atmosphere of openness, expectancy, and mutuality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-382
Number of pages16
JournalPsychodynamic Practice
Issue number4
Early online date12 May 2022
StateE-pub ahead of print - 12 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Supervision
  • asymmetry of visibility
  • life-space
  • negative capability
  • objectifying gaze

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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