Supervisees' reported transformational experiences: Psychologists' retrospective constructions of change experience during psychoanalytically-oriented clinical supervision

Robert James Barden (1995)

While clinical supervision continues to be recognized as a primary learning context for the professional development of clinical psychologists, the supervisee's experience of clinical supervision is a neglected area of supervision research. Since much of supervision research involves subjects who are graduate students, the subsequent impact of trainee supervision and of professional supervisory experiences have not been adequately explored. Through retrospective interviews with experienced, psychoanalytically-oriented, clinical psychologists, this dissertation qualitatively explored the supervisee's experience of change, the contextual variables contributing to this change experience and the impact of these changes on subsequent personal and professional identifications. The findings indicated that psychoanalytically-oriented psychologists report that transformational supervisee change experiences significantly facilitated their personal and professional development. Commonly reported aspects of transformational supervisory experiences include: (a) a significant change in an experience of self and self in role related to disconfirmation of negative shame-based expectations; (b) a new experience of personal and professional self, integrating previous academic learning and clinical experience; and, (c) the experience of professional identification and competence. Transformational experience occurred at developmental periods of life structure building, following transitions to graduate school or from training to professional life. Facilitative contexts included an adequate holding environment and development of trust, non-intrusive, benign supervisory interest in self experience, and supervisory respect for clinical process and self experiencing.