Intimacy pp 427-442 | Cite as

Intimacy in the Supervisory Relationship

  • Michael H. Stone


In contrast to psychopharmacology and other predominantly biologically based treatment approaches in psychiatry, where testable hypotheses can, with relative ease, be generated and validated, (verbal) psychotherapy remains more art than science. The number of relevant variables is staggering in both patient and therapist alike. The privacy demanded in the psychotherapeutic setting contraindicates all but the rarest of intrusions by a third party. Psychotherapy, itself an experience of intimacy, can be taught only by analogy — in the supervisory situation, itself a variety of intimate encounter. Therapists in training are occasionally required to permit a supervisor to be present at a session, or perhaps to carry out a diagnostic or prognostic evaluation, in his/her role as consultant. No supervisor has ever been present, even sitting quietly in the background, throughout the length and breadth of an extensive psychotherapy. Even the videotaping of a ten- or fifteen-session-long “brief psychotherapy” does not create a record of the customary unwitnessed therapeutic encounter. The Heisenberg principle of the observer affecting the observed is nowhere more in operation than in the realm of psychotherapy supervision. Psychotherapy and observed psychotherapy are comparable — but they are not the same. Similarly, supervision in the one-to-one situation and supervision where two or more trainees are present in the supervisor’s office are also comparable, but they can never be the same.


Supervisory Relationship Base Treatment Approach Psychotherapy Supervision Supervisory Setting Personal Analysis 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael H. Stone
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Connecticut Health CenterFarmingtonUSA

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