Multiple holding: A model for supervision in the context of trauma and abuse


  • Claire Virtue A registered psychotherapist, group facilitator and supervisor in private practice and a staff member with the Institute of Psychosynthesis (NZ)
  • Christa Fouché Associate Professor in the School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work at The University of Auckland.



supervision, grounded theory study, trauma and abuse, multiple holding,


This paper reports on a grounded theory study involving eight practitioners; four supervisees and four supervisors took part in individual interviews and two separate focus groups.The core finding of the research is that multiple holding is needed to provide adequate support for professionals working with trauma and abuse. Multiple holding is a term for the processes practitioners can use to enable them to remain working in the field of trauma and abuse and includes relational supervision, knowledge and skills and the use of resources outside the supervision relationship. The identified outside resources are: spirituality; personal therapy; collegiality; and training specific to trauma and abuse. Supervisors need to be part of a chain of holding where they in turn are held by their own supervisors, who, in turn, in an ongoing sequence, are also held in a chain of supervision and holding. Being able to choose a supervisor was found to be important to build a high level of trust in the supervisee/supervisor relationship.


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How to Cite

Virtue, C., & Fouché, C. (2009). Multiple holding: A model for supervision in the context of trauma and abuse. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 21(4), 64–72.