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“Her Energy Kind of Went Into a Different Place”: A Qualitative Study Examining Supervisors’ Experience of Promoting Reflexive Learning in Students


  • Dr. Robert McCandless, DPsychotherapy, is Consultant Systemic Psychotherapist at Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, St. Georges Hospital; Dr. Virginia Eatough, PhD, is a Lecturer at the School of Psychology, Birkbeck University of London.

Address correspondence to Robert McCandless, The St. Georges CAMHS Team, Lanesborough Wing, St. Georges Hospital, Blackshaw Rd., London SW17 0QT, UK; E-mail:


For family therapists in training, a key learning outcome is the development of reflexive abilities. This study explores the experience of three experienced training supervisors as they address this learning outcome with students. Transcripts of semi-structured interviews were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. The Supervisory Relationship emerged as a single overarching theme that contained and contextualized three further themes: Promoting Learning, Dimensions of Power, and The Self of the Supervisor. One theme is reported here, Promoting Learning, with an illustrative example of experiential learning in a student that demonstrates the overriding significance of The Supervisory Relationship. The findings are discussed in the context of current literature and research regarding supervision and training. This study adds richness and detail to material published on supervisory experience, and documents supervisory “micro-skills” relevant to the development of reflexive abilities in students.