When I reflect on how my supervisory style and theoretical orientation to supervision have evolved, I recognize that it continues to be a goal of mine to do whatever I can to facilitate a space for my supervisees that is inviting and facilitates growth. I attempt to do this not only to ensure that my supervisees feel comfortable, but I also believe the development of such an environment during supervision is most facilitative of the honest and self-reflective types of conversation that counselors-in-training must engage in to make optimal use of supervision.
As expected, my theoretical orientation to supervision is still being shaped. Psychodynamic supervision is defined as supervision that attends to material about the client and the supervisee, but also introduces an examination of the relationship between supervisor and supervisee (Pelling, Barletta, & Armstrong, 2009). Although I have not been using psychodynamic supervision fidelity to model, now that my supervisees have demonstrated success with basic supervision skills, I am finding that there is more room left in supervision to explore some of the more advanced dynamics that occur both in counseling and in supervision.
While I do not identify as having a psychodynamic orientation in supervision, more recently, a lot of the processes that I have drawn upon, such as talking about our alliance, parallel process, and transference, have all derived from psychoanalytic theory. I believe this shift is attributable to changes in my supervisees’ development as counselors. Now that they have a foundation of counseling skills, they are more prepared to delve into their conscious and unconscious reactions to clients as well as the processes of counseling and supervision.
For example, lately I have brought it to their attention during supervision when it seems like they might unconsciously be presenting themselves to me as their clients present to them as counselors. Now more than ever, I am seeing the value in bringing the unconscious into the conscious so it can be reflected upon, discussed, and ultimately resolved.
Although lately I have encouraged my supervisees to process and reflect on the transference and countertransference that occur as a function of the therapeutic and supervisory relationships, I am reluctant to self-identify as a supervisor who uses psychodynamic supervision theory because I have initiated these moments in supervision largely due to what my supervisees have incidentally presented with and not what I have intentionally tried to elicit.
While I utilize psychodynamic aspects during supervision and see the value of this type of processing, it is not the way I intuitively approach clinical supervision. I am grateful to have gained these insights and anticipate that, like my theoretical orientation to counseling, my theoretical orientation to supervision will continue to grow and solidify.
Amber M. Samuels is a doctoral candidate at The George Washington University working toward a PhD in Counseling and a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor (LGPC) in the District of Columbia. She is board-certified as a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and is an MBTI® Certified Practitioner. Amber takes an intersectional approach to counseling and utilizes an integrative theoretical orientation to guide her in helping the individuals she works with move toward optimum mental health. Her research centers around using research as a tool for advocacy and as a way to inform culturally sensitive clinical practice. You can learn more about Amber at https://www.linkedin.com/in/itsambersamuels/