Reality TV Distorts Couples Therapy

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VH1’s newest hit television show, “Couples Therapy,” is shining a light on the practice of couples therapy. Along with new shows such as “Felt,” which uses puppets as stand-ins for real-life couples in therapy, it seems that reality television has chosen couples therapy as its latest source of inspiration. Unfortunately, like much of reality television, these shows do more to confuse than illuminate the reality of couples’ therapy.

Couples therapy and marriage counseling are, to begin with, not simply things which can be managed to fit into short time-blocks for TV programming; they are an ongoing process that includes not only the time spent working with a therapist, but also the time that a couple takes to put the principles that they learn about to use. Additionally, real couples therapy doesn’t have the convenience of editing to resolve issues. Instead, it requires the honest, open efforts of both spouses to find a common ground that will allow their relationship to flourish.

It may be entertaining to watch couples therapy on television, but it’s important to remember that that is all that these shows are: entertainment.