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I just returned from a Couples Therapy conference that I attended with Dr. Eris. We were both blown away by the expressions of support and admiration from a large number of professional therapists attendees who were also fans of LA Shrinks. This was in stark contrast to the reception I received at a therapy workshop I attended before the airing of the first episode. Clearly the content of the show including our differing, yet effective, therapy styles and the exposure of our personal struggles had won over many in the therapeutic community. But, it is not just the therapists, but also all of our viewers that we owe the deepest debt of gratitude for allowing us to bring this extremely unique and ground breaking television show into your living rooms.
For the final blog of the season, I wanted to give a little wrap-up of "the good, the bad, and the ugly" that came from doing the show for me. And, I want to finish up with "the amazing (and unexpected!)"
*New Friendships with Dr. Eris and Dr. V: They are smart, strong, and dynamic women and I am proud to call each one a friend (and their great husbands too!).
* My Clients: I only had three brief sessions with each, but in that short time we accomplished a great deal. They were all willing, open, and did the work with cameras rolling.
* Family Relationships Strengthened: I know being on a reality show can make things go either way, but my family pulled together. I am especially grateful that I got to get much closer to my sisters, Michele and Pamela. * Relationship with Kevin Strengthened: Going through the filming process was incredibly positive and bonding for us. For that I will always be grateful.
*The Wedding: One of the most moving experiences of my life. I am so glad I got to have that moment with Kevin, and to share it with our families, friends, and all of you.
*The Show Itself: This idea was new and original and the first time showing that therapists are people too and how facing our personal struggles only makes us stronger therapists. It is my hope that we have helped people feel more comfortable with the world of psychotherapy and with therapists themselves.
There are things I wish I could take back. But what reality show does not have such moments?
*Not Enough Time with Christopher: He is my client who said, "I hate fat people." I don't know of any prejudice that can be changed in three short sessions, but we did our best. There was much more to do to help him out.
*Clitty Litter: Though we ended up achieving great success with her anger while driving (her presenting complaint), I could have taken Elizabeth in a different direction, ended the driving therapy, and addressed her suggestive behavior by taking out the "Clitty Litter" in the first place.
*My Sisters' Pain: Watching both Pamela and Michele struggle with seeing our father was difficult. Luckily, they are also strong women and held their own beautifully.
*Throwing Dirt-Clods from Behind a Brick Wall: Negative attacks on the web.
Maybe it is the greatest downfall of the digital age that people seem to feel the freedom (and even necessity) to publicly criticize, demean, and belittle others on Twitter, Facebook, and other web venues. Of course, being on television makes you a special target. As a psychologist, I understand. They view those on television not as human beings with real feelings, but as two-dimensional images that function as virtual dart boards for their angry daggers. And, by putting down others publicly, they can feel better about themselves and their own lives. Still, bullying on the web is still bullying and we will all benefit when we stand up against it.
THE AMAZING (and Unexpected!):
*Incredible Moments by the Other Shrinks:
Dr. V apologizing to the two brothers (on straight and one gay) for taking them to a stripper bar to show the straight brother what the gay world is about. Someone who is willing to stand up and say, “I was wrong” always impresses me. But, Dr. V did it on national television and I admire that greatly.
Dr. Eris exposing the very personal issue she is having with her body with the removal of her infected breast and how it is affecting her view of her body and the impact on her sex life. Her story moved me deeply. By her revealing something she could have kept secret, she touched thousands women (and men) who struggle with body issues and inspired them to come forward with their suffering. Her husband Clayton was also so supportive that he became a model for other husbands to follow.
*The Process with My Dad:
I wrote specifically about this in my April 8th Blog "Accepting My Father." But as a post-script, it has been a year since we filmed and I just spent his 71st birthday with him and his wife. I am happy to report that our relationship is better for having gone through the process you witnessed. What you saw me go through on the show was not planned and it was very real -- both the pain and the release of it.*The Outpouring of Identification, Love, and Support:
Perhaps the most amazing and unexpected thing to have happened on this journey was hearing from all of you who were moved by the process you saw me going through. Countless people wrote to say they had experienced a similar upbringing and how watching my process helped them to feel less alone, process their own experience, and even be able to have those difficult conversations with their parents. This was the greatest gift I could have ever received. By agreeing to do this show I had hoped to touch other people, I just never expected it to happen in such a deep and meaningful way.
Thank you for being a part of this incredible first season journey with Dr. V, Dr. Eris, and me! I look forward to sharing much more with you in the future. Until then, please follow me on Twitter and I will keep you in the loop!