Supervision from a Somatic Perspective

Physical Emotional and Cognitive Resonance

In every human relationship including the therapeutic one, sensations and feelings are mostly passed on and transmitted at the primary non-verbal level, beyond consciousness and intentions. There is a continual transmission and reception of information.

In the therapeutic setting, the process that the client experiences, evokes and activates a resonance in the therapist’s body.    

Are these resonances:  countertransference, fantasies, expectations, projections, frustrations, unresolved personal issues of the therapists? Do these physical sensations and feelings reverberating in the therapist’s body belong to the client, of which they are not aware of or unable to express? Are the therapist’s resonances genuine human responses? 

One of the supervisor’s functions is to help clarify these resonances and to discern whom they belong to.

Bodily transferences of sensations and feelings, above all the negative ones, are ingested and absorbed by the therapist. The patient’s “disease” infects the therapist’s body and she/he needs the skills to digest what has been incorporated, otherwise they will burn out.

The main task of every supervision is putting one’s own house in order : “cleaning” destructive introjections, vicarious trauma, fatigue, excess of empathy, lack of boundaries and taking care of oneself.

In somatic supervision, much attention is paid to listening to the somatic-emotional-cognitive resonance of the supervisee. Feelings, bodily sensations evoked in the body of the therapists, especially when they are repeated over time, are an immense source of information. They serve as a profound indication of the client’s inner world. 

The other goal of somatic supervision is to offer a different perspective at a cognitive level. This broadens the evaluation criteria of the therapeutic process, not dwelling only on the pathology and dysfunction, but shifting the focus to what works differently and better than before.

Supervision is a sacred place where the supervisee needs to feel safe and cared for. A space were uncertainties are welcome. There are no “sanctions” and condemnations within this space, it is a learning environment.

The supervisor brings experience, awareness, compassion and the courage to challenge repetitive comfort stories . The supervisor is respectful, curious, gives feedback and makes an honest evaluation of the work of the supervisee. In this environment feeling the support and authenticity, the supervisee can take risks, show uncertainties and vulnerabilities. Supervision can become a profound and intimate professional relationship.