The occurrence and management of erotic transference in clinical supervision

Deborah Ann Zera (1994)

Clinical supervision is the process in which clinical psychologists and psychotherapists review and process their work with a senior clinician, or in some situations, with a peer. This process and relationship is a central feature of each psychologist's professional development. This dissertation has explored the occurrence and management of erotic transference in the psychoanalytic supervision of doctoral students in clinical psychology. A theory has been developed which draws from self psychology, general psychoanalytic thinking, literature on boundary violations, and supervisory case examples. Two supervisees have been interviewed and their narratives have been used to illustrate, explore and critique this theory. Suggestions have been made as to how to manage an erotic transference in supervision. The possible effects when this is handled either well or poorly by the supervisor have been considered. The implications of this study are that the reader will attain: (1) a more comprehensive understanding of unconscious phenomena in supervision, and in particular, a more complex understanding of erotic transference and countertransference issues in clinical supervision, (2) knowledge of warning signals that indicate a potential for supervisory boundary violations, (3) learn to distinguish normal vs pathological transference responses in supervision, and (4) be given recommendations for effectively managing erotic transference in clinical supervision.