The overlap of therapist and supervisor

I was reading somewhere the other day that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are not a leveled off pyramid of layers, with one layer being tackled in one go, then upon completion moving on to the next. Rather the writer compared the hierarchy of needs as a sort of interlaced puzzle that eventually slots together to form the 3D shape of a pyramid. No one piece being stable without the impact and edges of the other segments to hold it up.

This, like much of contemporary TA, reflects the idea that we work on aspects and strengthen or regenerate them. We also repeatedly come back to them as we continue to evolve and change. Anchoring our Adult is vigorous work and involves ALL aspects of us.

Anna recently discussed this idea with great clarity for me, in one of our Supervision sessions. It resonated when I re-read the piece on Maslow the other day. Anna talked about a cultural prism and much like Maslow’s pyramid, this prism is held up and pieced together in a beautiful, colourful 3D way by allowing all aspects of the individual to co-exist together. In the West the TA community requires that the person who gives you Supervision is not the same one providing you with Therapy. Looking through the Indian cultural lens though it could be argued that it is this very overlap that strengthens the individuals’ position and prevents information slipping between the layers.

So to divide the role of trainer and therapist seem to be cultural introjects that we have accepted whole from Western TA and not challenged. Another requirement of Western TA is that you cannot have a diverse and mixed group when working in training and development. Yet Delhi and Bangalore students have learnt side by side for some time now in various groups that have been formed both by Anna and Rosemary, and this North South divide is just one example of cultural difference that has co-existed in Anna’s learning environment. The flip side is that we form other similarities that hold us together and this relates to the Relational Model

Anna shared her experience of being in the role of a trainer and although her experience, her gut and all her knowledge pointed at information about trainees that she knew well in the training sphere, she chose to follow the Western model and did not become involved in providing feedback regarding these individuals and their Supervision. This role separation meant that Anna discounted her own knowledge. Much like Robert Goulding’s work Anna put forward to us in our TA Supervision that one cannot see parts of individuals as separate components but rather we must look at them holistically.

Picture again your 3D prism with each colour of the prism representing a different part of you. Now look closely as the edges fuse into each other solid blue mingling around its edges with solid orange, red, green and yellow. The spaces where the colours meld creating an overlap just like the different roles and aspects of ones life overlap with one another. Even if we were to take hammer and chisel to this prism and separate the blue out again, there will be parts of other colors that have seeped into the blue. When I talk about the blue section to my Therapist and the red to someone other, my Trainer perhaps? Am I then not skimming over the fact that each aspect impacts the other? As someone who works with more colour (and what each colour represents) The Trainer / Therapist will have a more holistic approach to dealing with us in our entirety. By knowing aspects of my therapeutic healing would that person not be well suited to pin point more affectively why I hook the same issues with clients in my Supervision?

Anna suggested that to strategize according to our cultural context is not wrong and can have very potent results. Like the Relational Model the connection between person providing support and person seeking it originates and develops up from the C1 to C1 interaction. Which is likely what most of Anna’s trainees also have in common with her. Why then not allow for more coverage through this relationship rather than prescriptive parameters that do not fit our cultural context?