About a week ago, I started watching “In Treatment” – not a very original choice for someone undergoing therapy, I know. It’s a really interesting show – you can’t get more character-driven than this – but the first impression was that most of the clients display rather unfriendly and rude behaviour: hardly anyone ever says hello or goodbye, they slam doors, arrive late to or leave early from sessions, they tell the therapist, “I’m paying you 150 dollars per hour, I want a happy session.”
I am aware that for TV you have to dramatize, add interest through interpersonal conflicts. But I am still a little shocked by the general lack of courtesy displayed. Surely one could still entertain a notion of civility and still clash with the therapist on a show?
My therapist and me shake hands at the beginning and end of each session, we greet each other and say goodbye; I try to and so far always have been punctual because he takes his time for me as well, and I acknowledge that by making sure no time is lost or stolen if I can prevent it. I’d never dream of calling him names or attacking him, even if we were of different opinions.
Some of the differences are due to character – I’m not a very confrontational person and it would make me very uncomfortable if I thought my therapist dreaded sessions with me. Part of it might be due to the fact that I actually get treated for a mental health problem, an illness, and that I am immensely grateful that he is helping me to make my life better. All of the clients I saw on “In Treatment” so far had problems in their lives, but none was at the point where they could not function or not keep everyday life going anymore.
As mentioned before, part of the treatment programme is feedback on my behaviour: how I come across, what kind of reaction certain types of body language elicit, what kind of message one sends verbally and nonverbally. It raised my awareness of my own behaviour immensely and maybe it’s not only the difference between my own sessions and those on the series that strikes me as significant, but simply the fact that I am paying more attention to this right now.
As a whole, the show really made me wonder what other people’s sessions look like.