Supervision from a Somatic Perspective

Physical Emotional and Cognitive Resonance

In every human relationship, including the therapeutic one ,there is a continual transmission and reception of information. Sensations and feelings are mostly passed on and transmitted at the primary non-verbal level, beyond consciousness and intentions. In the therapeutic setting, the process, that the client experiences, evokes and activates resonances in the therapist’s body.    

Are these resonances countertransference, expectations, projections, frustrations, unresolved personal issues of the therapists? Are the physical sensations and feelings reverberated in the therapist’s body belonging to the client? 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, including the negative ones, are ingested and absorbed by the therapist. The patient’s “disease” contaminates the therapists’ body and they needs the skills to digest what has been incorporated, otherwise they will burn out.

The main task of every supervision is learning to take care of oneself, by putting one’s own house in order : “cleansing” destructive introjections, vicarious trauma, fatigue, excess of empathy, lack of boundaries and self-esteem.

In somatic supervision, much attention is paid to listening to the somatic-emotional-cognitive resonance of the therapist. 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 unspoken or unware inner world. 

The other goal of somatic supervision is to offer at a cognitive level a “functional criteria” a different model of how to evaluate the therapeutic process. Thus not dwelling only on the pathology and dysfunction, but shifting the focus to what in the client is functioning differently and beyond the usual patterns.

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

The supervisor brings experience, awareness, compassion and also challenges repetitive “comfortable” stories. The supervisor is respectful, curious, protects and gives an honest evaluation of the work of the supervisee. In a context of care, support, respect and warmth, an honest and direct approach is liberating and the supervisee can take risks, show uncertainties, vulnerabilities and grow.