In Treatment is a series on HBO about psychotherapy. The show, now in season two appears to be a hit. Gabriel Byrne received a Golden Globe award for his portrayal of Dr. Paul Weston. It is Sunday and In Treatment airs tonight. My colleague in the UK forwarded an article that appeared in today’s Guardian. So I thought I would round off my new obsession with a blog post!
Portrayal of Therapists in Film
Most of the time when I watch films or television and a therapist is portrayed, I grimace, hold my breath, and sometimes shout my dismay aloud. How many times has a therapist had sex with the client or breached confidentiality on the screen? Boundary violations, dual relationships and other unethical nuances usually abound when mental health practitioners are weaved into movies and television shows.
In Treatment is not much different. But what makes the experience complete is that the near ethical scrapes are brought into the forefront and interwoven into the dialogue- last season even found Dr. Weston meeting with his clinical supervisor. His character openly discusses amorous feelings for a client and he rasply says he is burned out. All the while, we see his therapeutic work, sometimes on the mark and sometimes not so much, as we the audience peer in on sessions and glimpse ever so briefly into his private life.
The story line is entertaining; nonetheless during certain episodes, I feel like I am viewing a day in the life of my own work. But overall, In Treatment provides a rich snapshot into the world of a psychotherapist, and with the intensity of a 25 minute one-act play. The show is not one that is tolerated in dribs and drabs- one episode here and there does not do it justice, so if you decide to give it a whirl, tune in for at least two or three episodes in succession before you decide if this series is for you.
Incidentally, since this blog post was first written, In Treatment was discussed in an academic book chapter, first in Vol 1 and most recently Vol 2 of a book I co-edited and is dedicated to counselor training and technology.
Sutherland, J. (2016). The role of film and media in mental health. In S.Goss, K. Anthony,- L. Stretch & D.M. Nagel (Eds.), Technology in mental health: applications in practice, supervision and training (pp. 223-228), Charles C. Thomas Publisher: Springfield, IL.
Receiving Clinical Supervision as therapists and helping professionals is critical to the work we do with clients. This is really what stands out for me with regard to the therapist portayals in In Treatment. The added reality that a good therapist talks to a clinical supervisor is how most top-notch therapists do the work of helping others.
Interested in becoming a Clinical Supervisor?