In the latest edition of the Journal of Counseling Psychology (55:2, 172-184), Nelson, Barnes, Evans, and Triggiano have published an article on the inevitable conflict between supervisor and supervisee–what leads to it, how supervisors react to it as well as supervisor strategies for managing it.
But, these lines about therapy caught my eye:
It is likely that conflict is as difficult to manage in supervision as it is in psychotherapy. Yet addressing conflicts successfully can be a healing and educational venture. The work of “tear and repair” in therapeutic relationships suggested by Safran (1993) and Safran and Murran (1996, 2000) is thought to be critical to optimal outcome in psychotherapy. The capacity of therapeutic relationships to recover from relationship breaches is thought to enhance client trust that relationships can survive misunderstandings and disagreements as well as client confidence that he or she can successfully resolve them. A skillful therapist can guide a client through the process of accepting the therapist’s inevitable fallibility, thus enhancing client capacity to accept his or her own… (172)
What do you think? Is conflict necessary for healing? I think yes. Otherwise, the client and the therapist idealize each other and so become blind to reality.
However, not all relationship breaches are good and we don’t always respond well to them, making matters worse.
How do you feel about conflict with your clients? With your counselor?