Supervision Today

Berjanet Jazani – 2019

Throughout my clinical training, prior to my analytical formation, the meaning of this term “supervision” did not have such significance in terms of its implication and its function in the clinic. It was, rather, more or less equivalent to appointing someone who had superiority and maturity in carrying out a technique or transmitting knowledge. It was somehow literally having a “super-wiser”, with a super/mega vision of what we were doing in the clinic. One could carry out clinical work under instruction of a mentor-like professor. It is no wonder that the first few generations of psychoanalysts, who were mainly medical practitioners, had invented all sorts of supervision-related theories, in all of which the pattern of a transmittable set of theoretical and practical methods seemed to be both possible and necessary. Studying some historical cases of psychoanalysis, it is indeed striking to find out that this approach to the question of training and supervision has not itself been questioned – or, even worse, has been copied, though we know that working in such a way has little or adverse effects in the clinic. The question of supervision and clinical training has always been a political question something that has to do with the politics of psychoanalysis. Wouldn’t it be easier if Freud had had something decisive to say on the topic? He does not have any theories on this which seems to have led -to certain extent- to some confusion around the “mode of practice” with the concept of “supervision”. The first generation of psychoanalysts, such as Ferenczi and Helen Deutsch, tried to conceptualise a theory of supervision. Ferenczi’s approach, for example, was to discuss a clinical case with a colleague, while Deutsch tried theorising the question of supervision and training. Her suggestion was to have a patient seen by a supervisor as well as the trainee analyst (Deutsch, 1935). The so-called “Deutsch style” was still in use when I started my analytical training under a group of psychoanalysts, and it made me question the place of the supervisor in clinical work.
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