Group supervision: a space for evoking triangular relationships and revealing unconscious feelings

Vol. 34 Iss. 2 pp. 5260 | St. Petersburg State Institute of Psychology and Social Work | ISSN: 1993-8101


In this article an attempt is made to integrate the psychoanalytic concept of triangulation and the group analytic concept of the «matrix» Foulkes had introduced to the theory of Group Analysis [7].

The development of triangular relations in childhood - the formation of the child's triangular matrix- and the feelings emerging during that processes are examined and on this basis it is supposed that the child incorporates the whole triangular matrix and may take any position in that triangular matrix with corresponding feelings.

It is recommended to consider the mechanism of projective identification to be the way of putting the mother’s feelings into the child and vice versa.

The author assumes that social feelings - shame, guilt etc. appear first in child’s psyche when the mother uses projective identification and puts her feelings about certain situations into her child. These presentations are applied by the author to group supervision to provide an explanation for the doubled positions which the supervisee may occupy during group supervision, with the corresponding feelings: on one side they may be derived from triangular child matrix and on the other the unconscious feelings may emerge because of the projective identification that the patient might use during therapy, and then appear in supervision as a “parallel process”.

The supervisee needs relief from feelings of shame, guilt, anxiety, and awareness of induced feelings with the supervisor’s help. A group analytical approach to supervision allows the supervisor to create a contained transitional space for the exchange of reverie, creativity, reflection, search for meaning and insight through unconscious group processes and through interventions of supervisor.

As a result, the supervisee better understands himself, the patient, can move further, from triangle relations to multilateral.


triangulation, matrix, triangular child matrix, group supervision, unconscious feelings, reverie, parallel process


Citation — Harvard Notation


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