Supervision is an essential professional activity. It allows the opportunity to step back and understand our patient's material with the aid of an experienced colleague. The supervisor can use his experience of working with similar cases to help understand the process which is unfolding. An experienced supervisor can also help us explore the transference - and by reference to parallel process, help us understand aspects of it we might be caught up in without realising. So the transference relationship can be played out within the supervision relationship in a way which is often surprising and informative. Sometimes, the supervisor may need to hold something for both therapist and patient which neither feels able to accept, or that feels lost... sometimes that is hope.
I have been in private practice now for over twenty five years. I have worked with a large range of presenting problems. The way an individual's process unfolds is always unique to that person, but there are patterns which can be recognised. Each therapist inevitably has their own individual style and way of being with their patient. It is this mix and coming together of therapist and patient which alchemy described as being like a chemical reaction. At least something needs to be happening between these two for any change to take place. It is one of the responsibilities of the supervisor to ensure this vessel which holds this reacting couple is intact - that there are no leaks our fractures - and that the reaction does not become so violent that the vessel, and the healing process, are put in jeopardy. From the alchemical perspective the supervisor then oversees the process of symbolic intercourse from which new life can emerge... or tries to help the therapist to understand why/how that process has stalled.