The unsaid : an interpretative phenomenological analysis to understanding non-disclosure in clinical supervision from trainee and supervisor perspectives.
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This dissertation explores trainee and supervisor experiences of non-disclosure in psychotherapy supervision utilizing three self-contained qualitative studies. Whilst the first and second phases of the research sought to explore how eight trainee psychologists and supervisors made sense of their own non-disclosure within supervision, the third phase explored non-disclosure within the dynamics of four supervisory relationships over a sixth-month period. The first two studies utilized semi-structured interviews and data was analysed using Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). The third phase of the research project utilized a qualitative interview method and Interpersonal Process Recall (IPR), to access a detailed interpersonal understanding of non-disclosure. The research reveals that withholding behaviours in supervision were primarily purposeful in nature and observed to be part of a cyclical process embedded in the supervisory relationship. Other noteworthy findings that emerged across the three studies include the following: (1). Subversive or furtive power dynamics formed part of the trainee’s withholding behaviours and appeared to have been motivated by self-preservation, (2). The underlying dynamics related to power relations were also strongly associated with perceptions of knowledge and professional identity (both trainees’ and supervisors’)(3). Supervisors were generally found to be ill-equipped or reluctant in their roles as supervisors and this appeared linked to their perceived lack of power and control at the outset of supervision (4). Various relational positions, such as the maternal role, appeared to have exacerbated the cycle of non-disclosure, (5). Trainees appeared to have learnt non-disclosure strategies from their supervisors, particularly a tendency to strategically present themselves in order to appear competent and “knowing”, and finally (6). The quality of the supervisory alliances was observed to have been influenced by what was left unsaid in supervision. This highlights the fact that non-disclosure tended to be embedded in the relational dynamics of supervision. The aforementioned prominent findings were understood and explored using relational theory.