Parallel Process in Supervision: the History of the Concept and Explanatory Models



The article is dedicated to the parallel process — phenomenon of structure and dy- namics reduplication of the therapist and client relationships in the relationships between supervisor and therapist. The concept of parallel process is commonly used by the psychotherapeutic community but at the same time it is not clear enough and therefore sometimes evokes skepticism. It is shown that parallel process is a descriptive but not explanatory concept. The psychodynamics as a condition for the observed paralleling can be various and requires in each case a specific analysis. The history of the concept of parallel process is related to psychoanalysis. Identification, transference/countertransference and projective identification are the main concepts on which the explanatory models of parallel process are based. The authors show that a parallel process is a result of the defensive behavior patterns typical for all participants of communication: client, therapist and supervisor. Asymmetric distribution of the power/subordination positions which is indicative for the situations of psychotherapy and supervision is a provoking condition for the expansion of parallel process chains. Article demonstrates an example of the parallel process analysis in a case study of supervision session for students practicing the Co-experiencing psychotherapy. The authors conclude that «hermeneutics of suspicion» and the model of «defended subject» specific for the psychoanalysis can be used for the studies of the communication process in psychotherapy and supervision oriented not only to psychoanalysis but to the other modalities as well.

General Information

Keywords: parallel process, supervision, identification, transference, countertrans- ference, projective identification, non-transparent communication, model of «defended subject», «hermeneutics of understanding» and «hermeneutics of suspicion»

Journal rubric: Theory and Methodology

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Busygina N.P., Silkin A.I. Parallel Process in Supervision: the History of the Concept and Explanatory Models. Konsul'tativnaya psikhologiya i psikhoterapiya = Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy, 2015. Vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 182–204. DOI: 10.17759/cpp.2015230509. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Natalya P. Busygina, PhD in Psychology, Assistant Professor, Department of Counselling and Clinical Psychology, Chair of Individual and Group Psychotherapy, Moscow State University of Psychology an Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Alexander I. Silkin, psychologist-consultant, graduate of the master's program "Advisory psychology" of the faculty of consulting and clinical psychologists, Moscow city University of psychology and education, e-mail:



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