Psychotherapy, Counseling, Dear Zindagi and more..

Psychotherapy, Counseling, Dear Zindagi and more..

An insight oriented psychotherapist by profession for over 10 years, and someone who’s been on the receiving end of therapy sporadically over the last 15 years, with the recent release of ‘Dear Zindagi’, here’s my take on the way psychotherapy is portrayed in some movies and TV shows:

(for more info on these, click on the titles)
*** Dear Zindagi ***

First of all, I am feeling ecstatic this movie was made- it reflects a pressing need of the hour with the alarming rate of young people committing suicides and giving into addiction. The fact that psychotherapy exists, is not known to so many! This movie helps spread the message that it exists and that there isnt any shame in it whatsoever- that’s just funny- to think of it in a shameful light- doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to think that way! See the film, you’ll know.

Coming to a qualitative portrayal of therapeutic journey- I suggest looking at the movie as a “highlights of Kaira’s sessions” or memories of peak moments in her therapy- film. With that lens, the gap between a realistic portrayal of therapy and the cinematic one becomes lesser. With regards to the boundaries and unconventional therapeutic environment issue, the therapist surely pushes it being hard-pressed for time since he had just a few shots within a 3 hr film to establish rapport, win her trust, get her to open up and reach core issues within layers of her personality to finally help free her from her shackles 😛 . I can personally look at it with a forgiving view as principally he adhered to most rules even in the outdoors sessions- the therapist is more of the open and available type than strictly clinical too which is why some clinicians will cringe, while others will nod with a quiet smile and understanding. The outdoors sessions and some in-the-room sessions remind me of children’s play therapy. It did stick to most of the rules on which basis change is possible. The most important thing which is why I’m in a forgiving mood, are the healing moments. The therapist’s character is alert in all the right places, picking up all of the signs that the client is dropping unaware her own self, and reflects back all that she is not saying, or is simply not equipped to say (So yes, I don’t find it sermon-y if seen with the “highlights of her therapy” lens). His penetrative gaze as he stays with her inner self, refusing to let her hide from emerging and giving her pain the importance so she can do the same and finally move on was very important: In these moments, the client is being “met”, through all the bullshit, through all the difficulties, through all the smokescreens, through most of her “layers”. Without this, meeting her forgotten experiences and aspects of her own identity and being would have been extremely difficult if not impossible in therapy- and the breakthrough she unknowingly sought in her life far away. So yes, all’s forgiven Dear Zindagi for getting that right 🙂 .

*** Awkward ***

In the American TV show Awkward, they are showing a “GUIDANCE & COUNSELOR” not a psychotherapist! Please know 🙂 hehe..

*** Good Will Hunting ***

Such a fantastic job! They show all the different kinds of analysts and therapists. Watch this film, educate yourself. But just like Dear Zindagi, please treat it with the “highlights” lens- that and the bit that the therapy-goer was a genius!

*** Hannibal (TV show) ***

Okay, barring the crimes and the later half of the show, it’s fantastic (Hannibal’s sessions with his therapist). The research is simply amazing.

*** The Prince of Tides ***

No. This is not how therapy works at all- not with all the ethics out the window. Poignant story, yes, Not therapy. Enough said.

*** Hope Springs (2012) ***

Couple’s brief counseling- Yes please. Hardly any rules broken. Quite a feat for showing therapy on screen. Though it comes only second to the Hannibal show.

*** Analyze This *** ; ***The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)*** ; *** Girl, Interrupted ***

A big yes for all three of these 🙂 .

Hope you’ll enjoy the list and find it helpful. You can surely add more in the comments- especially if you are a therapist/ have experienced proper counseling/ or ask if you have a show or movie in mind 🙂

Wishing you more power, in your journey 🙂
Kunjal.