Assimilating Problematic Life Script Themes in Supervision. The case of 'Sarah' Revision

van Rijn, Biljana, Agar, Jamie, Sills, C and Stiles, William B. (2022) Assimilating Problematic Life Script Themes in Supervision. The case of 'Sarah' Revision. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 22 (3). pp. 760-772. ISSN 1473-3145


Objectives: Life script is a transactional analysis concept describing a pattern of human experience, interaction and meaning making developed in childhood that can be activated
in adulthood, sometimes creating problems. Problematic life script themes can impact a therapist's experience and interaction during clinical work and interfere with therapeutic effectiveness. This study used the comparative script system theory to assess how one therapist's problematic life script themes were manifested in supervision, how they were addressed, and whether addressing them advanced assimilation of the problematic material.
Method: Seven consecutive monthly supervision sessions with a 50-year-old, highly experienced female therapist in private practice (pseudonym ‘Sarah’) were analysed by a team of five investigators using a qualitative theory-building
approach. The assimilation of problematic experiences sequence (APES) was used to track changes in Sarah's life script themes.
Results: Problematic life script themes were evident in each supervision session.
Progress though the APES varied across themes and six different clients discussed during the sessions.
Conclusions: The supervisee's life script themes emerged prominently in supervisionsession content, and most were successfully navigated. The observations supported the theoretical suggestion that assimilation of supervisee unprocessed life script material may be a prominent component of routine professional supervision.

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