Therapy and Reality TV: A Bad Match
Why televised counseling sessions shouldn't stop you from seeking help.
Remember how I said I'd watch just about anything on TV? Well, I take it back. I watched approximately 10 minutes of Couples Therapy the other night, starring my favorite hip-hop train wreck DMX and his ex-wife Tashera Simmons, and I was a bit mortified. I'm not certain, but I'm pretty sure this is the pair's first time seeing a counselor and they are doing so under the watchful eye of millions. Not a good look.
Now, I think therapy is very important and many of us, whether we'd like to admit or not, need to get our heads "shrunk." I know that there's a myth in our community that black folks don't go to therapists. And as a Black woman, I long carried the burden of the "strong black woman" on my back. Until one last straw was added, and I had a breakthrough and I felt as though I had no other choice but to go. And it really did help.
But here's the thing. The same thing that makes most people uncomfortable about therapy - that you're sharing your personal business with a stranger - is actually what makes it great for me. This person is only a stranger at the first meeting, one. Two, this person doesn't know you and isn't invested in your story in any particular way. They're not there to take sides and guess what? It's illegal for them to tell your business to anyone--save if you admit to harming someone or yourself. But my point is, the thing that makes talking with a psychologist or psychiatrist so great is that you get to unload without the worry of judgment that you tend to get from your parents, friends, lovers or whomever. You get to release all the thoughts swirling around in your head behind a closed door, one-on-one. Hence, the problem with X and Tashera going through therapy on camera.
[ALSO READ: About That Time DMX Said He Was Raped...]
If you had the chance to see DMX's Behind the Music, his issues are painfully deep. He needs one-on-one counseling to prepare him to even confront the hurt he caused in his marriage through his drug addiction, infidelity, absence and so on. He's had tons of drug counseling in the many rehabilitation centers he's gone to, but I wonder if he's dealt with the core of his issues. Because TV just seems like a bad bad way to do so.
When I watched Cynthia and Peter of the Real Housewives of Atlanta attend couples counseling with their pastor and with the under-prepared Hill Harper, who looked like a deer in headlights when the two went at it in front of him, I felt the same way. Therapy is not meant to be televised, it undermines the whole point of intimacy and safe space. I was inspired to write this because I think that reality TV is giving therapy a bad name. It makes the exercise seem trivial and pointless when, for some of us, it is deeply necessary.
Are any of you out there for or against seeing a counselor? And do you think "reality TV" has added to people's misconceptions?