We just watched my vice, a Bravo television show called “LA Shrinks.”
This little vignette offers a taste of, as my husband put it, “every man’s worst nightmare” about couples counseling: two women–effectively two wives–ganging up on a guy, a husband.
Here’s what happened: A wife’s “presenting problem” to the couples therapist was that her husband wasn’t paying enough attention to her, she didn’t feel seen or heard. But, over the course of several episodes, the wife appears to seek such attention rather aggressively, resulting in the husband shutting down. The issue comes to a head: the therapist asks the couple to spend a week together, wherein the wife would back off, and not demand attention, let it come to her. In the subsequent therapy session, the husband tells his wife that over the course of that week, he felt he tried to connect with her but was brushed off.
The wife’s reaction? “When? No, no, what? When? Write that down, when did it happen?”
The therapist appears to let that request stand. The husband feels defensive. Naturally. He was being cross-examined.
It devolves from there, with the therapist (not shown in the above clip) later imploring (scolding?) the husband to “go to your wife!” after the wife storms out in tears.
The therapist later tells us that communication issues are the number one problem with couples, and that the impending split needed to happen.
What. The. F.
Let’s imagine me as the therapist:
“In the subsequent therapy session, the husband tells his wife that over the course of that week, he felt he tried to connect with her but was brushed off.
The wife’s reaction? ‘When? No, no, what? When? Write that down, when did it happen?'”
[Me] “Wait, don’t deny his reality, don’t deny his perception. He feels you brushed him off. What’s up with that? He feels you brushed him off. That is all that matters. Apologize. Even if you don’t remember brushing him off, it’s what he perceived. It’s his reality, so now it’s yours.”
Instead–Dr. Eris (per the editing) appeared to show the husband as some closed off, never-listens kind of guy, who doesn’t want to “do the work.” She seemed to throw up her hands as the marriage crumbled in front of her eyes.
We were appalled. And I hope that the editing of the show is making us draw that conclusion. I really hope so. That couple has young children. They drove away in a freaking minivan.
It’s too easy to be a couples counselor. Then again, why see a couples counselor who wants to be on television? Why undergo counseling on television?
Maybe I need to relax. Maybe it was all staged.