Is TV’s Couples Therapy true to life?

Published in Blog by Tavistock Relationships on February 22nd 2024

In the BBC television series Couples Therapy, clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, Dr Orna Guralnik, takes viewers on an intimate journey into the complexities of couples' relationships and how to support change through psychotherapy.

During each episode we witness Orna skilfully deploying some core therapeutic skills – paraphrasing, reflecting, clarification and the like – in order to build a therapeutic alliance with the couple and also help herself develop a better sense of the nature and quality of the relationship between the two partners. Why are these two people together? What is it that they had hoped to provide for each other? What is it that they want from each other, and what is now preventing them from being able to give one another what they want?

I’m scared of what the truth might be, and cause to happen.

The programme captures the kinds of normal and natural anxieties people experience coming to couples therapy. We see couples in the consulting room and waiting nervously to go in and this ‘fly on the wall’ approach lends the programme a particular degree of immediacy and reality. People coming for therapy at TR may also experience such a waiting room moment. We recognise that it can be very anxiety-provoking to come to couples therapy, raising lots of questions. What will my partner say about me? Will the couples therapist take the side of my partner against me? Will I be heard? Is there any point in coming anyway? As one or Orna’s clients says, at the start of his first session: “I’m scared of what the truth might be, and cause to happen”.

Each episode is cut with segments from Orna’s supervision sessions, in which she is able to explore some of the difficulties and issues arising from her work, and her reflections on these and on relationships, and relationship problems, in general. Her work is a commanding demonstration of the power of therapy to provide a different, more honest perspective on the situation in which the couple find themselves in.

Couples therapy is a very moving piece of television, notable for its trueness-to-life and we hope it encourages more people to seek out relationship support.

TR Together webinar with Orna Guralnik

We are delighted that Dr. Orna Guralnik is joining us live on 22 March 2024 for an online webinar where she will be reunited with her peer supervision group to reflect on casework. Orna will present two cases from the show and then we will open up for live discussion with participants. If you would like to attend this webinar, please sign up to TR Together and book here.

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