Learning from the HBO Series “In Treatment”

Today, I worked with one of my adult students on a paper she is writing for her graduate course in Clinical Psychology. The paper focused on the patient-therapist relationship in the HBO television series In Treatment, starring Gabriel Byrne. The assignment was to write a paper detailing what the therapist did right, what he did wrong and what psychodynamics were present within the therapeutic relationship. A fascinating assignment for me, as well, since I had a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and have been a Licensed Professional Counselor since the mid-1980’s.

The interesting aspect of the assignment was how this very well written series could provide new therapists with concrete examples of what a therapist is doing well and not so well. This speaks well of the writers of the series, who clearly knew the important clinical aspects to include in the creating of the characters and the situation.

Based on what I’ve learned from helping with this paper, I will definitely be streaming In Treatment in the future. I saw a few episodes a few years back, but I was never consistent enough with my viewing to stay up-to-date with the story line. Now, I will be making a point to watch this critically acclaimed series.

The advent of HBO series and DVRs makes this sort of assignment possible. I believe it’s a good way to teach new therapists about potential pitfalls in the field, as well as to show them what good therapy looks like.

A fun way to spend time, analyzing and evaluating how effective Byrne was as a therapist. Who knew this teaching approach could be so powerful? I suppose with the development of streaming, many new teaching tools have opened up.

A little different than only have a book and case studies from which to learn!

in treatment

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