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Vol 22, No 3, Article 5, PDF

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The Supervisee’s Internal Supervisor Representations: Their role in stimulating psychotherapist’s development
C. Edward Watkins, Jr.

Just as patients’ internal representations of the therapist can play an important role in the treatment process, might supervisees’ internal representations of the supervisor similarly play an important role in the supervision process? I subsequently consider that question, proposing that: (a) supervisees’ internal supervisor representations have the potential to positively or negatively impact learning over the course of the therapist development process; (b) that potential impact may be most acutely felt early on, as the beginning therapist starts seeing patients and struggles with creating a Practice Self (or therapist identity); (c) constructive supervisor internal representations — often accessed to provide therapist support and offer treatment guidance — may most fruitfully serve a developmentally transitional purpose; and (d) as therapists further evolve, their supervisor internal representations may become less prominent and, instead, be seamlessly integrated into their own therapeutic work and practice self-development. The supervisee’s internal supervisor representations, I contend, are pan-theoretically salient, having therapist development implications across all systems of supervision.
Key Words: supervision, psychotherapy, internal, representations, therapist development

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