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Customer Review

91 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Perfect!, April 10, 2008
This review is from: In Treatment: Season 1 (DVD)
As a psychiatrist, I firmly believe that this series is without equal in the history of film portrayal of the work of a therapist. Despite a few, trivial criticisms one could level at this production, the work as a whole transcends the limits of the therapeutic "hour" and just as vividly portrays our limitations while bringing absolute realism to what it is like to be "In Treatment" from a number of perspectives. Yes, therapy is a complex process fraught with pitfalls and misadventures, but it is also a process that can and often does liberate and free the human spirit from the chains and fetters of the dark forces and shadows that plague us all until the final release that occurs at journey's end for each of us. This is the most captivating and compelling series that I have ever seen on television. For anyone contemplating entering therapy or struggling while in therapy or has been in therapy or is thinking about becoming/already is a therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, or any mental health professional, this series is an absolute must see.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 14, 2008 10:10:25 AM PDT
Gryphon X says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 23, 2008 9:33:37 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 23, 2008 9:35:37 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 14, 2009 6:54:49 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 11, 2009 3:59:51 AM PDT
Right on, newman. Paul is a DISASTER as a therapist, overall. And not much further behind as a mid-life male in deep downward spiral, either. There is wreckage all around him--a wrecked practice, a wrecked marriage and family, wrecked patients, wrecked ethics. I have a very mixed reaction to the show.

As a psychologist, I cringe at many of the "treatment" elements of the show, which feature some fairly egregious ethical and clinical blunders, i.e., sleeping with patients, assaulting patients, insulting patients, letting suicidal patients have access to lethal medications, not reporting sexual child abuse, assuming dual role relationships (knowingly treating his daughter's classmate), bringing his spouse into therapy supervision for marital therapy, not giving the Navy an honest evaluation of Alex's mental status, not taking any notes (as we learn in Season 2)--the list could probably go on.

I don't find Paul Weston very sympathetic at all, rather, he is a strutting egomaniac much of the time, hiding behind his self-idealized shield of being a healer, but he's as much in need of treatment as any of his patients. When he does go for help, he is so irritable and defensive that Gina cannot really reach him most of the time. He only vulnerable on his own terms, and it is this contradiction that is his greatest obstacle. He lives to pick the scab off of others' wounds, but cannot bear to be exposed himself.

Paul looks like a man to be reckoned with, and certainly feels this way about himself. But look at how the women in his life regard him. One can easily understand his wife's loathing of him, but she is also an equivocal character, one whose misery goes even deeper than what we can attribute to Paul. Paul's stupidity in his approach to Laura was monumental as well--it was totally obvious that she would discard him once she had gotten him, that is her M.O., and the minute he forgot that, and forgot why she needed his therapeutic help, he was lost and deserved to be treated like the impotent lover he was. Laura played him all the way through--teasing him, tempting him, cuckolding him with Alex, eventually doing her share to undermine his marriage--and he went for all of it rather than treating her for her rather deep illness. No Ulysses, unable to lash himself to the mast to withstand the sirens' song, he succumbed, abandoning his oath and his family. Gina is pretty well fed-up with him by the end, too. Paul has some solace with the teen-age female patient and her mom, far more than he can conjure up for his own daughter, though. For such a handsome devil with that brogue to swoon for, he manages to be pretty contemptible to the women in his world, inciting their rage like the would-be dandy in in DH Lawrence's "Tickets Please" or the corrupt shopkeeper in Zola's "Germinal", torn to shreds by the miners' wives.

Still, as a viewer, I was pretty captivated by the bumbling Dr. Weston, and was pretty caught up in the daily drama that the format engendered. I think losing that framework is a real blow to Season Two, as arduous as it was to keep up with. But in the year 2009 A.T. (after Teevo) it is no big deal to set the machine to capture it, now is it? I was really engaged in each treatment, the meetings with Gina, and the dynamic with Weston's family. I had to put a lot out of my mind, but somehow I got caught up in it, and found it much better and more enjoyable than "Tell Me You Love Me" the "other therapy show" that was airing last year--was that ever a dud!!

So I would not exactly call this show a "commercial for (the mental health) industry" Newman -- I think it would scare more people away from therapy than anything else!! I know many therapists who do not feel that it did us justice at all--but we keep watching!!!

ADDENDUM 5/10/09: In Season 2, I am glad to report, Paul is doing a much better job as a therapist--at least up to about Week 5!!! He's no longer inolved in multiple ethics violations, but is trying hard to put a life together. The challenges he faces in his personal and professional life are not rooted in his failings, just his weaknesses or vulnerabilities, and he is much more sympathetic as a character. And much more effective as a therapist. The show still has plenty of intensity and punch, so maybe it goes to show you don't have to have a therapist sleeping iwth patients to get ratings.

Posted on Nov 11, 2009 8:45:26 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 11, 2009 8:48:41 AM PST
matrix says:
I agree with "doctorwww" totally, and I'm delighted to hear this from a psychiatrist. I have thought for some time that the series ought be incorporated in psychiatric and psychology residency programs. Seems to me it would be great training vehicle (both for what to do and what not to do), and I'm glad to see that a psychiatrist agrees with me. Now who's going to market it to residence programs?

In reply to an earlier post on May 25, 2013 9:54:22 AM PDT
First of all, Paul is NOT a psychiatrist! He is a psychologist and they are NOT physicians. Accordingly, they never prescribe medications because they are not licensed to do so in almost all 50 of the United States. And he didn't leave any drugs "lying around;" they were in the medicine chest in his restroom. Nonetheless, he should never have any drugs of any type anywhere near his therapy office for the reason you mention. As for my "industry," that comment sounds like Scientology-speak. Hmmmm.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2014 11:44:35 PM PDT
I agree with all you say, William, great review. I am a cognitive psychologist and therapist, so I had small quibbles about the lack of differentiation between psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists (the writers referred to him interchangeably as psychiatrist and psychologist throughout. He behaved mostly like a psychotherapist, nothing was shown of diagnosis or diagnostic testing), but I too thought it profound and loaded with existential issues and profound professional issues that interest me greatly.

I'm replying to say I've long thought Ordinary People and Sybil were the finest examples of the therapeutic process on film (in both cases featuring psychiatrists employing eclectic methodologies, not just prescribing drugs and sending people packing). As much as I love them both, In Treatment eclipses them, phenomenal.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 1, 2014 12:08:35 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 1, 2014 12:54:56 PM PDT
Harvey, I agree pretty much with all you say (a few years after the fact, I'm just now watching this). I reacted to all the ethical stuff too, and his being manipulated by Laura and reinforcing her pathological behavior, etc. But the nuts and bolts of the therapeutic process, e.g., giving people time to think, allowing, whenever possible, for clients to formulate their own conclusions and arrive at their own epiphanies; offering interpretations sparingly and at the perfect times; accepting clients, a la Carl Rogers; and NOT jumping in and correcting their cognitive thinking errors (until presumably later, when they're ready for it), were so refreshing and well-demonstrated that I think, ALONG with the fact that it also demonstrates what NOT to do, as you describe, that it should be seen by anyone contemplating becoming a therapist. It also shows what unglamorous, grueling, and solitary, isolating work it can be. Not for everybody!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2014 11:59:00 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 13, 2014 12:06:03 PM PST
I appreciated reading opinions from mental health professionals. I found this series compelling when I watched it the first time. Currently I am working on a Master's in Counseling and wondered how realistic Paul's portrayal really is. It seems that his technique and skills come from the "what you're supposed to do" AND "what you're not supposed to do" school of counseling.

I recommended the show to my Basic Skills Counseling professor a couple weeks into the semester. I thought watching segments in class might be entertaining and spark lively discussions. Our recorded sessions, however, are critiqued by the instructor and our fellow students as a teaching tool. Nonetheless, I continue to re-watch the show with a critical eye. As an aside, my favorite episodes are Paul's counseling sessions with Gina.
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