Real couples experiencing real couples counseling on TV? As entertaining as that is, it can be quite educational if done wisely, very wisely. A couples therapy TV show, this marriage expert says; yes, America would value such a program. What are real techniques that real marriage therapists share with their clients? What does real couples counseling look like, really? What are realistic expectations for problem solution resolution? What are the many topics that couples struggle with?
It would be excellent if the aforementioned questions were attended to on a new show – yes, this is a vision that I have and can imagine as viewers sit at home and watch real couples struggle with real life problems on TV and learn doable solutions. How interesting I believe it would be for viewers to discover the insights and strategies that a real marriage therapist offers real couples that the viewers would identify with to help them navigate their challenges. My motto is to provide ‘real solutions for real life problems’, it would be superb to have a couples therapy show that offers that very concept someday.
Divorce, infertility, infidelity, parenting differences, sexual intimacy challenges, communication problems, falling out of love, financial distress, emotional abuse, expectations, physical violence, drug abuse, mental illness, medical illness, control, power struggles, family secrets, trauma, blended families, in-laws . . . These are just but a few of the many challenges couples go through during the different phases and stages of a marriage over time. Every day for 19 years I work with couples in my office as a marriage therapist, as an agent of change. It is the couple as the client who are the change makers outside of the office processing the concepts, thinking about the insights, and implementing the techniques discussed in the office. It is a hard journey for many of those couples. The marital relationship can enhance and it is so beautiful when it does. The health of the couple unit affects not only the couple, it affects the individuals within the unit, and if there are children in the picture, them as well.
There are are many entertaining television shows (not reality shows) where the couple is struggling in the marriage and then we the viewer observe them going for counseling, e.g., Desperate Housewives, Whitney, etc. There have even been shows created about a therapist (not real but the script presents as though it has a reality base) providing therapy, e.g., In Treatment. There are shows of a different genre such as talk shows where we see therapeutic advice shared in an effort to help real people, e.g., Dr. Phil, and programs focusing on helping real celebrities therapeutically in the reality genre, e.g., Celebrity Rehab. It appears couples is starting to be more of a focus on television, for an example, The Marriage Ref, not a therapeutic show and rather the genre of comedy where couples are told who is right and who is wrong. Couples counseling on television has begun its early journey, e.g., The Dr. Laura Berman Show, and coming soon; Couples Therapy for celebrity couples. It will be interesting to see where the attention on couples goes on television, and I hope it becomes a therapeutic focus that offers help for couples.
This Relationship Expert Would Like To See
With Reality TV taking over this generation of television programming, what I am interested in seeing is the reality of couples counseling. That is a tricky statement though because reality TV after all is often not fully reality, as reality can be altered for programming/entertainment purposes. As a psychotherapist who believes we must live in the times that we are in, I would be interested in a television program designed to help real couples, the everyday type of couple that the typical viewer relates to and identifies with their problems. Certainly watching celebrities is entertaining, also watching the “everyday folk” is entertaining as well. Therefore, in addition to the current shows, my vision is for there to be a program designed to where the media can provide an environment where real couples can be helped and the lives of the masses can be touched as they can learn from what they are watching.
With marriage on the decline at 51% as reported by PEW research in 2011, with more and more television comedies being about divorce e.g, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Happily Divorced, it would be wonderful if television could represent the struggle of what is; regular everyday couples struggling to survive and thrive in their marriage. Along with that, let us educate the viewer on how to do just that – not just survive marriage but thrive in a culture where the union of marriage is not being nurtured. Let new shows be developed in our culture to nurture couples by educating them on what they can do. Would this show be a documentary series, a reality series? Whatever it would be, it is the next step in television as a marriage therapist I would like to see: educational entertainment. It would need to be done wisely as that type of show has the true potential to help the couples who decide to be on the show as well as the many who would tune in. Nurturing the marriage, is just but one important piece of the puzzle for how to have a successful and happy long lasting marriage. And yes, of course, if this new show that I envision were to be developed and call upon me to offer my expertise I would be happy to help. Let’s call this (my) new show: The Marriage Interventionist as a working title for now, or perhaps; Agent of Change. Which title do you prefer?