Written by Karleen Nevery
An HBO Series highly recommended to therapists, clients and every day people who enjoy dialogue-driven plots and intense character studies…
by Karleen Nevery, Professional Vancouver Counsellor
I have a new favourite HBO series! It may hold a greater appeal to those of us in the field of “helping people” through talk therapy. The program features an ongoing, fictional account of Psychologist Dr. Paul Weston as he meets with five weekly clients (or patients) over the course of nine weeks. It is filmed in Monday-through-Friday in half-hour episodes, with a different recurring client each weekday.
The show unfolds like a succession of one-act plays, and each session builds into a spellbinding psychological epic. “In Treatment” is driven by words, and the images and feelings they trigger. We as viewers are invited to see into the lives of each client (a phenomenon rather familiar to those of us in the field).
I was hooked from the very first episode when I found myself captivated by the exchange between Psychologist Paul and his first patient Laura, an attractive and alluring young female doctor. She’s crying, and then describes an erotic tale that would bring a blush to the cheek of many an experienced therapist. Soon we realize Laura has fallen in love with Paul, who she has been seeing professionally for 12 months. And so begins the development of an intense tale of transference and counter transference between therapist and client.
Alex is Paul’s Tuesday client. He’s a cocky Navy fighter pilot with an attitude, a troubled marriage and unfinished business with his father. He has entered therapy with the objective to deal with a harrowing battle experience and its fallout…and then get back to the war in Iraq as swiftly as he can.
Sophie, Paul’s Wednesday client, is a defensive teenage gymnast with suicidal tendencies and a complicated attachment to her male, adult coach.
Jake and Amy are Paul’s Thursday clients. They are a married couple struggling with differing views about what to do about an unplanned pregnancy. Amy may initially come across to viewers as a cold hearted career woman who was raised financially priviledged. Jake, on the other hand, is uneducated and comes from an entirely different socioeconomic background. Both are angry, and in these couples counseling sessions, Paul is kept on his professional toes in an ongoing effort to maintain some kind of healthy dialogue and connection between the pair.
When work ends at the end of the day for Paul, we peek into Paul’s personal life to learn that he and his wife are struggling in their own marriage. His wife’s perception that Paul is preoccupied with his work and his patients, appears to be a contributing factor to the breakdown.
Paul discusses his failing marital situation, his clients (mostly his attraction to Laura) and his ongoing challenges and triggers with his supervisor Gina at the end of each week. He and Gina also have a somewhat complicated professional and personal history. Personally, I found the supervision sessions the highlight of the series. They really help pull the plot together.
I recommend small groups of therapists buy the set together, and then consider organizing a regular weekly “movie night” to immerse themselves in the series. Some time for critique and feedback might be worked into the evening. Spellbinding, informative, addictive, soapy, an easy show to get hooked on.
I give it an A plus. I hope you enjoy!
Thanks for this great review Karleen – I enjoy your tastes and respect your opinion and so will definitely give this a try! Julie