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shrinkykitten

"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.

9.06.2006

If I weren't crying, I'd be laughing.

Or maybe I mean, if I weren't laughing, I'd be crying.

I wish blogger had a "self-destruct" timer - or that I could figure out how to password protect things. There are things I often want to blog about, but don't for fear of someone finding it.

But today, I have to blog something. Otherwise I will cry - or laugh. Basically, I will get hysterical.

For non-shrinks, it is hard to understand how important clinical supervision is - or even perhaps how hard it is to be a shrink. We hold people's entire lives in our heads - and we have to carry those with us. Supervision is the only place where we can talk openly about those loves - to let off some of the weight they have on us - and to ventilate some of the strong reactions those lives can foment in us. In order to be a healthy and effective shrink - you need good training and good support. This all falls on supervisors. You have to be able to talk to your supervisor - you have to be able to trust that they remember you and your clients in order to be able to help you shape therapy and to make the best decisions. They have to know your style and your strengths and weaknesses to help you be the best therapist you can be. They have to have ideas and thoughts and feelings to help you shape therapy and to help you when things get rough - because things always get rough.

You have to be able to tell your supervisor, "If my client complains about X onemore time, I will scream!" Or "My client said I am the worst therapist in the world, and I feel like I am." You need to be able to say, "I teared up when my client said that" or "I felt like throttling my client when he said that." You need to be able to admit fears and failings and you need to trust and be honest.

I have been hoping beyond hope for a good supervisor. I know I can be a much better shrink if I can just find a supervisor who doesn't rely on tv to inform their work with clients, or who doesn't tell me exactly what to say - someone who helps me be better, without fear of them looking worse.

There is literally no room for egos in supervision - they only interfere with one's ability to be a good therapist.

I had a first supervision session with a new supervisor today. I cannot change supervisors, I did not choose this supervisor, I am stuck with this supervisor. This makes me want to cry.

First of all, when someone sits 10 feet away from you - you can't help but read things into that, can you?

I literally had to take notes during our meeting to keep from screaming.

I spent a large chunk of time trying to give the supervisor a sense of the client. I felt as though my conceptualization of the client was pretty good and clear, - and frankly, I thought it was elegant. I talked about background and precipitating events, relationships, perceptions, feelings and style. I covered everything I had learned about the client in a very short period of time.

At one point, I was making an analogy, and I paused and asked if it made sense - because I doubted my ability to convey what I was trying to - and because my supervisor basically just sat and stared at me without even a nod or an "ummm hmmmm." The supervisor said, rather snappily, "I understand what it is you are saying." As though I had just insulted the supervisor's intelligence.

I finished my narrative and the supervisor then began asking me questions like, "In what latitude and longitude was this person born? What is their favorite color? What were the names of all of the client's elementary school teachers?" they weren't *quite* that inane - but close. I kept having to say, "I don't know. I don't know." Because my approach is to learn some important things (is the client going to off themselves? hurt themselves? drink or use drugs? what is bringing them here? etc.). Then I let the client tell me their story however they see fit.

At this place, we have only a set number of sessions - we do brief therapy. So to me it seems important to figure out what is troubling the person and then to work on it. I don't need to know the name of the hospital in which they were born to do so.

Anyway, after several "I don't knows" on my part, the supervisor informed me that she would be asking me a lot of questions - important questions - questions I needed to pay attention to and take with me to the next session to ask the client - or at least ask similarly *obvious* questions.

The supervisor then proceeded to ask me, "What brought the client in? What does the client want to deal with in therapy?" etc., etc. I answered those questions as though I had failed, somehow, to state all of those things when I was talking about the client.

Am I that unable to communicate that the supervisor was unable to glean those from my case description?

At the beginning of the supervision, supervisor asked me what i wanted to get out of supervision. Frankly, if I can't have nice, helpful, supportive supervision - then I just want to get through supervision without harm to me. But I said something about wanting to learn more about how to apply psychodynamic theories to my work and to my conceptualization of clients because although I am very well read in the psychodynamic literature - I don't know how to *talk* about those things - and how to apply them to my work. My learning has all been self-driven. Supervisor then asked me what I am reading right now. I said it was a book which applied Lacanian theory to a certain kind of treatment. That is, it is a book about a specific type of dynamic theory applied to a specific problem.

Supervisor proceeds to tell me to read a book on brief dynamic therapy. I said I owned it, but had not yet read it. Supervisor admitted to not having read it. Supervisor then recommended another book - I wrote it down. Then supervisor told me to read three books by Nancy MicWilliams. I noted I'd read them. I felt like a bitch - but I don't need recommendations of introductory books - and I certainly don't have time to read 5 books right now. I'd love some articles or chapters - but telling me to read 5 books?

And that's the thing - I read too much. Any time I don't know how to handle something with a client, I read about it. I need to stop reading and learn how to talk about these things.

I left feeling completely deflated. I realized today that my new job is in an insane environment where trainees are treated like children and where supervisors would prefer to not have to work with us or see us as individuals.

I also realized today that the person I had wanted to be my supervisor (I wrote about this last week) may well not be the healthiest nut in the pack. And I kind of knew this - I kind of knew that I was drawn to her for reasons that might well be unhealthy for me.

That said, we have a new staff person who just seems outstanding. She seems to love us trainees - and I think it's because we're not insane, and I think she's not either.

The more I get to know other shrinks, the more and more I am convinced that most of us are just insane - and not necessarily in good ways.

3 Comments:

At 10:09 PM, Blogger StyleyGeek said...

I'm so sorry your supervisor is insane and unhelpful. How long will you be at this place? Can you hold out that long?

I'm glad you have a new staff person that isn't so screwed up. Maybe you can cultivate her :)

 
At 1:14 AM, Blogger Lucy said...

I'm sorry :( I hope the new person can make up for your supervisor a little.

 
At 10:21 PM, Blogger shrinkykitten said...

I am stuck with the supervisor for a year! Once a week for a year! It seems interminable.

 

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