Therapy and Reality TV

I’m a total sucker for a lot of reality tv.  DH and I don’t pay for a ton of cable, so I spend a lot of time on Bravo and TLC other such channels that seem to come with every cheap cable package.  You learn to love tolerate what you have.

Anyway, in my channel surfing I have been hugely impressed and happy to see how much reality tv is showing people going to therapy.  More celebrities like Catherine Zeta Jones and Demi Lovato have openly talked about seeking mental health treatment, which I think is awesome, but (as I think it should be) it’s kept a private affair.  Even though mental health treatment is talked about in the media, there’s still a ton of stigma around therapy and seeking treatment.  Gene Simmons, Bethanny Frankel, Sarah Ferguson, several 16 and Pregnant cast members, and Tatum O’Neal are a few I can name off the top of my head who are willing to take their mental health and therapy work public.

I think it does a ton to chip away at the preconceptions people have about talking to a therapist.  Rarely do you lay on couches.  Rarely are the therapists providing neat answers.  Medication and hospitalization are not usually needed.  Powerful, productive, and beautiful people want to go to therapy.  It’s not less manly or less strong or less anything to need to talk to someone about how you feel.  There’s no target age or target gender that benefits more than any other.

I’m torn though.  I really feel for these people.  I know they sign up to do these shows and put their personal life on display.  I don’t think it’s ever a good idea and probably does a ton of damage in the long run.  I just wish they could do their therapy work in private.  I’m sure a lot of it is.  Not a ton of therapists would agree to open sessions like that for tv.  But no matter how honest they think they’re being even with cameras there, it’s not the same.  There’s at least the teeniest sensor there before they start saying something, and one point of therapy is to provide a judgement-free space where anything can be said without repercussions.  Fan/hate mail, press coverage, and knowing the family/friends could eventually hear what’s said are huge burdens that I wish these people didn’t have to worry about during their therapy.  At the very least, it slows the process for them, and I wish no one would have to purposefully drag out an already arduous job.

So maybe I just need to say thank you to these celebrities for taking one for the team for the rest of us.  By bringing attention to how beneficial and non-threatening therapy can be, hopefully more people will get the help they need.

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