Talking Sex Rehab With Jill Vermeire – Episode 3

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Licensed marriage and family therapist Jill Vermeire was on hand during the filming of Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew, bringing her clinical expertise to the world of reality TV. She’s agreed to lend us her perspective on the show’s shoot, as well as the rehabilitation of the cast. Below, Jill talks about the show’s third episode: the rivalry between Kari Ann and Kendra, the concept of enmeshment and the philosophy behind having the female patients remove their makeup in group.

The main focus of this episode is Kari Ann and Kendra’s rivalry. What do you think about that situation?

I can only go back to what my original thoughts were when that note exchange happened. I told Drew that I predict they’ll end up being great friends, because you can not fight like that, and feel that angry and that intensely about something, if you don’t care about the person. So what it really shows me is that they actually did care for each other and that’s why it was so frustrating for each one of them to feel like they weren’t being heard or being supported.

I guess that’s why they say that there’s a thin line between love and hate, right?

Yeah. It’s the same thing in any relationship. If you don’t care about the person, you’re not going to invest the time and energy to even fight with them or come up with some kind of a defense. When you do care, that kind of thing is important to you. A lot of time the hurt comes out as anger, but you look underneath that and you’re going to find that they are people who are feeling betrayed, feeling scared, feeling fear.

As a viewer, I found it in possible to be anything but on Kendra’s side.

I completely understand why people have such a hard time sympathizing with Kari Ann, because she makes it hard to sympathize with her. She puts up that wall in such an extreme way. She actually sets it up so that people will prove her right in [her belief ] that you can’t trust people. She has this core belief that the world is not safe, people will betray you, that people are going to hurt you; that you have to fend for yourself. She actually creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. She makes the situation so that it’s going to fit her belief system. That way later she can say, “See: every body leaves. Nobody’s trustworthy, everyone betrays me,” without being able to look at her part in it. The biggest thing for Kari Ann is that she has a very difficult time really being accountable for her actions and really having any insight into her behavior.

Exactly how disruptive was Kari Ann? Because the show is so centered on her, I can only assume she took up a lot of the discourse and thinking time.

Yeah, it was extremely disruptive. It was hard to get the rest of the group to focus on themselves, because she was such a bright neon light grabbing all of the attention. But again, this is how she operates in the world. And one of the interesting things about the group process is that people are going to show up and represent something from your life, or push buttons that usually get pushed in the real world anyway. But being in a treatment center and being in a group therapy process really gives you the opportunity to learn how to deal with them in a more productive way, so that you’re not going to let this person who’s self-sabotaging their treatment take all of the energy out of your treatment. You know, it’s learning how to have the boundaries and state needs. And it is frustrating. If you go to any treatment center anywhere, there’s always going to be a Kari Ann. You go out into the world and there’s always going to be a Kari Ann. So it’s learning how to deal with that.

Kendra was mad that the covers were pulled off of her and she was made to get up and have breakfast, whereas Kari Ann was allowed to stay in bed and was brought orange juice. Do you think Selma was doing everyone a disservice by treating everyone differently?

You have to work with what’s in front of you, and I wasn’t privy to how everybody was woken up, specifically. If Kendra’s experience was that the covers were thrown off and she was told to go to breakfast, then I’m gonna believe that was her experience. Is it OK that Kari Ann was brought juice and candy (or whatever it was) to get her out of bed? In my opinion, no. Did it work? Maybe half the time. What started to emerge was that it wasn’t about the juice. It wasn’t about how she was woken up. She was just resistant. You try and accommodate her here, and then she’ll go over to another place and create drama. Her resistance would show up wherever it could. If I had my way, everybody would be treated exactly the same, and then the differences between where they’re at as far as readiness for treatment would be addressed in individual and group therapy only. Because really, Selma is not a therapist. Unfortunately she was put into a position to do some work that she didn’t have the background to do. And these were really, really challenging patients. So I don’t blame the rest of the group for being upset at the preferential treatment of Kari Ann. If I were a patient going through that and witnesses it, I probably would have been upset myself.

I wonder if you have any thoughts on the makeup challenge during therapy?

I, in no way shape or form, am saying that girls shouldn’t wear makeup. I believe that girls should use those things on the outside that help you feel confident and help you feel beautiful. I often tell girls, “Do your hair, put on some make up, find an outfit that makes you twirl.” In this particular group, the majority of them are very heavily made up. From what I was told, they would spend up to an hour doing their makeup. That’s pretty extreme. The goal was not to have them feel comfortable without make-up, or to expose all of their flaws, but it was to see what comes up when they have to take it off, to see what’s behind the mask. Sex addicts, and especially female sex addicts, are really used to using their outside appearance to get attention, to get validation, to get a hit. There’s a healthy relationship to their make-up, and then there’s the unhealthy relationship to their make-up, and I knew that there would be one or two who would have an extreme reaction to exposing and being that vulnerable. Part of that experiment was to see if the guys would notice, because I think that there’s this belief that they don’t look good without it, they look way better with it, it’s the only way people look at them, and nobody would like [them] if they didn’t wear it. So it was really cool to have the guys come in and actually not notice that the girls weren’t wearing make-up at all.

During one on one with Kendra, it comes out that her husband is her drug, kind of.

Not “kind of.” “Is.”

Isn’t there a slippery slope from the societal ideal that is “being in love” to “enmeshment?”

In the honeymoon phase of a relationship, it’s understandable, acceptable, and even biologically and anthropologically proven that we become completely obsessed with our romantic partner. A healthy relationship means that you maintain your individuality while also learning how to be together. It’s called “interdependence.” And interdependence is really a concept of learning over time how to figure out which of my needs I can meet on my own, or with the help of somebody else outside of my relationship, and which of my needs I need to bring to the relationship and get support from my partner. “Enmeshment” is that extreme, suffocating, it’s-all-about-the-other-person type of situation, which is really unhealthy. It’s different than having a really great, loving, healthy relationship. Kendra and Lukas are so enmeshed, she feels like if she stops taking care of him, he won’t survive. And he is so enmeshed with her that, even though he probably can’t list off the things he loves about her, he knows he loves her and has to be with her all the time. And he lets her take care of him. And I’ve talked about this with both of them, and they agree. They agree that this enmeshment is what’s killing the relationship. They have to learn how to be apart and create individual lives for themselves so that you have something to bring back to the relationship. If you become too dependent on the relationship and that’s all you have and that’s your food, air, water and everything, you’re going to suffocate. Eventually you will self destruct.

Finally, with the Nicole one on one, it comes out that she’s kind of a loner. And I thought it was a little ironic to have a loner in group therapy.

Well, it’s not unusual. And again, that’s one of the things that the group therapy process can bring that part of her out and have her work on it with other people. Really, the label “loner” means “inability to connect and be intimate with other human beings.” That’s really what it boils down to with her. Nicole is much more of a love addict than a sex addict, so really it’s an intimacy and attachment disorder. She truly wants to be in a relationship, but she doesn’t know how to connect and be vulnerable and have the healthy intimacy, so it’s easier to just shut it all down. She talks about the revolving door: people come in and out of her life, and it’s really painful for her. I think Nicole really did want to connect with people, but her whole life has been about surviving on her own and taking care of herself. So it’s really scary for her to trust other people and open up and be vulnerable. And I don’t know what shows up in future episodes, but her fear of being intimate and not feeling safe and letting her guard down comes out as anger at certain points also. I don’t know if that’ll show up, but it did come out.

Learn more about Jill and sex addiction at her website, and follow her on Twitter.

Related content
Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew show page
Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew videos and extras

  1. AmandaB says:

    what i would like to know is how in the hell did KariAnn get to be miss teen USA or miss anything other than spoiled snotty !+++!%$**^@~#@^+_ bad influence teen USA!If my daughter acted like her i’d slap right in the f’in mouth because as my aunt says that #~!*~!+_!@!(%^&* aint coming out of her !%&^)_#*_&#`_#( so why should she be slapped there?!She needs a lesson in mannors and humility and she needs to appologize to all the people whom have and are trying to help her sorry !%&^)_#*_&#`_#( then spend some time thanking the lord that karma hasnt caught up with her yet(and that perhaps it wont)and get her f’ed up attitude in check,cross her legs,open her ears,shut her mouth ,and maybe she might get some where!!! GO DR DREW!

  2. Hello! says:

    Dr. Drew is a quack. This show is a sham and the participants are a bunch of depraved deviant nobodys who did a job. Their job was doing the show. They each got a pay check of equal or much than the average Joes one years salary all for a mere 21 days of bull-crap.

  3. Brian says:

    Kari Ann is obviously seriously mentally ill. It is sad and painful to watch her. Beyond her addiction, she is clearly paranoid and needs psychiatric intervention and medication. I hope she finds the help she needs.

  4. doubtanddispute says:

    Miss Teen Sex Fiend didn’t HAVE to be there! She is a manipulator and wanted that paycheck which David (Mary Carey) promised her but she didn’t want to do a thing for it. She made for good TV and that’s all it takes cuz we always need a villain in reality TV.

  5. eileen egr says:

    Keri-Ann is SO disruptive to the rest of the group. I think her problems go way beyond a sexual problem. If I were one of the other participants in the group, I would be angry that Kari-Ann was making herself the center of attention, and therefore effectively taking treatment away from other members of the group.
    I cannot see anyone liking her with her present diva-princess aattitude I feel very badly for her, as she is obviously broken.

  6. sammy says:

    ud like to know why we don’t see much a story line with the skater/surfer guy? whats his story?

  7. Sostane says:

    It is interesting to see either aspects of my own personality in many of the guests but also how at times many of my close friends resort to the same behaviors. I thought it was amazing to ask the women to drop their mask of makeup.. what are we afraid that people might see without it. How do we as women age gracefully when so much of our identity is based on appearances and youth.

    Kari Ann just seems very wounded and reminds me of a stray cat I once had that would eat tuna from my fingers and then try to bite or scratch me. Most of the anger in this threat towards someone we clearly don’t know frightens me I guess since clearly the show is edited for drama and both she and her friends will see her portrayed this way. I stop watching some reality shows when someone seems really mean but she seems badly hurt and I hope she isn’t being used yet again by the producers to “sell” her.

  8. Lizea says:

    Thanks VH1 for doing another show like this. I love this show, the patients, Drew and getting to know Jill.
    Nightmares are back and got me up early this morning. 5:12am. Why so much before the alarm? Haven’t had one for quite a while – a few months.
    This show and another last night triggered it for staying up late rewatching on TV and reading blogs online.
    I take notes; lots and lots of notes. Notebook upon notebook of notes and not just from this show, from others, like the Bret Michaels show. Not the bimbos, but from what he says/reacts to. I’ve become acquainted with someone who was the biggest back in his day, got ripped off, and I want to say the right things that are meant sincerely to show appreciation as a long time fan, for what it’s worth.

    I take notes – been trying to peel enough layers off to free myself. But I’m tired and still not done. Obviously. This was a new nightmare. (People ask why I don’t watch horror movies – don’t need to.)
    There are bits of each of these patients that screams in my head. Whether they’re acting and its all phony or not doesn’t matter to me. I’m taking notes that strike a chord. Even from the viewers’ comments. A couple made me tear up last night as they flicked at another layer. Fuel for the occurrence of another nightmare, I guess. Ah, Duncan, lived a nightmare, I know the feeling. I didn’t escape in my head. 47 years of nightmares. My coworkers notice bags under my eyes and probably think I’m single and wild. In reality I stay up late, taking notes.
    I love this show.

  9. sondra says:

    Love the show. It’s very interesting all the different types of sex addition and how trama can affect this aspect of your life. You learn to shut down, hide, and give into it. I don’t think others that have not experienced this understand it’s affect and I think it’s good that the show is exposing it. I’m curious to see how it ends up and what they decide to do with the knowledge they gain from treatment.

    I’d like to find out more about the boys. They tend to set in the background and don’t take part, or have different views I find interesting.

  10. ci64 says:

    Kari Ann acts like a child – grow up. She is acting like a spoiled rotten kid.

  11. ci64 says:

    Kari Ann must still think she is a Miss Teen – spolied teenager, “you are laughing at me”, “I need my cellphone” and “I cant go out without my make up – Grow up you are in rehab for a reason.

  12. laurie says:

    Kari Ann is so very wounded for someone sooo young. I don’t see Kari as some princess but more like someone who has had no structure and is very freightned of everyone, I’ll bet she has been abused on more levels and far more than some there. Kendra should really lay off her. I will be very interested to find out her her family history and how she was able to meet the requirements of competeing for Miss Teen USA. i have to admit I did laugh when Kari called Kendra a Tranny face. It’s so true! cracked me up.

  13. Marie says:

    I, for one, have found this show to be very helpful to my own healing journey from childhood trauma. I have a blog (Coming Out of the Trees) in which I am documenting my healing process — so many people (women and men) have left comments along the lines of “Thank you for sharing your story, I thought I was the only one.”

    By sharing our stories shamelessly and in detail, those with similar stories who think they are alone in their shame can learn a different truth.

    Thank you!

  14. lost says:

    Through watching this show, I have realized that I am a sex and love addict. I truly was unaware prior to seeing this show.
    I don’t watch much television, so I caught the first episode by mistake. I especially don’t watch many reality shows, but for some reason, I just couldn’t turn the channel.
    Throughout the show, several things that were said by Dr. Drew, as well as the patiens, really struck a chord in me. I found it too emotional to watch in the presence of my husband. I didn’t want him to see my reaction. So, I later logged onto the web and watched the episode in complete privacy.
    I have many things in common with some of the patients. I feel that I am most like Jennifer or “Penny Flame”. I had worked in the adult industry myself and had even recently been considering getting into adult films. My personality is very simialr to hers as well.
    I do have other deep seeded emotional issues in addition to this one, but I am unfortunately not in a position financially to be able to afford counseling or rehabilitation. That is why I am greatful for this show. I will take from it what I can and hope to find some help for myself within each episode.

  15. JFC says:

    Keri Ann appears to be a classic case of extreme borderline personality disorder. Kendra might be as well–just a bit higher functioning so she can hide it better.

    I think Keri Ann will threaten suicide before the season is over when she is not getting the attention and unlimited support that she requires.

  16. Daphne says:

    Why is Keri Ann in treatment. I think before she tries to tackle the sex addiction she needs to bo back to basics and get some manners. She is so rude, negative and selfish. If I were anywhere with here I would have a hard time stopping myself from slapping her. What a mess she is.

  17. Gayle says:

    Hmm, Kari Ann needs to get booted off the show. What a spoiled brat! If you want my non-professional opinion, a good old-fashioned spanking is just what she needs!

  18. Sunshine says:

    Thank you Dr. Drew. Thank you. As I sit and watch tonights episode.. the tears just came rolling down… thank you. I am not a celebrity but this is real to me…thank you again.

  19. @HopeEngineer says:

    I love the perspective Jill is bringing to this show. I am really learning a lot seeing how to deal with someone like Kari Ann. I know a lot of patience is required but I wonder what there is to be said about giving treatment to those who really want it and are ready for it and people who might be holding that process back for others either by taking up a therapist’s time or by disrupting the group time.

    Marie, would love to see your blog. What is the address? Lost, so glad you are seeing this show and realizing your addiction, realizing you are not alone, and realizing there is help out there for you and the many many others who are suffering. Lost, I pray that you can be open with your husband about this. He certainly is someone you need in your corner.

  20. HALY says:

    I believe that the staff exaggerated the incident between Selma and Kerri Ann. I think that Kerri Ann is a spoiled brat and a a racist. Granted Selma should not have put her hands on K A. On the other hand tell the truth ( Jill and Drew)!! You know good and well that KA was not even intending to bring her flat behind to the group. She is playing everyone and I do believe her story will be tragic.

    Annoyed viewer.
    P.S.
    Jill maybe the cut the episode aired but KA did not even make an attempt to retrieve her blue book.

  21. Nadine says:

    “Because really, Selma is not a therapist. Unfortunately she was put into a position to do some work that she didn’t have the background to do. And these were really, really challenging patients.”

    Are you kidding right now Jill Vermeire?!?!?!? I have been a tech in 3 different states (while doing my BS, MS and now a year from pursuing my MD) and have NEVER met a tech WHO WAS A THERAPIST!!!

    Don’t try to make people who have no experience in this field believe that Selma was somehow unqualified for her JOB!!! That is tantamount to slander and misleading (typical). Techs can be students working on their MSWs or BAs!!!! Selma was more qualified than most!

    What the editors left out, was the verbal abuse (racially motivated) Selma dealt with from Kari Ann on a regular basis, but had to suck up. If something is said to a black person they’re supposed to brush it off, but I tell you if Selma were Jewish and were verbally ^~&_(*%#%&(_)_& aulted using her ethnicity, IT WOULD NOT BE TOLERATED.

    I’ve had “clients” in my face VIOLENTLY bumping into my body as I attempted to keep them from endangering other “clients” and to tell you the truth, there is an expectation that the “black” worker will “go off” on antagonists, so the antagonists PREY on black workers in an attempt to disrupt the facility. Little comments here and there while no one is watching, sneers, it is COMMONLY done and your lack of awareness on this issue makes me question your depth of knowledge in your own field. The female white clients, specifically, know not to play those games with the white female techs because their is an innate understanding that whatever the white female tech claims is true. The white female clients know that if they “tell a story” on the black tech, that there will be much dispute administratively and it is likely that the client will get away with murder while putting the black female tech in her place. SO COMMON!!! “Clients” use all available tools to prevent the containment of their disease.

    The clinic put Selma in a precarious position and should be liable for allowing a hostile work environment to continue. Hostile environment because of specific demands made of Selma’s psyche that were not demanded of her co-workers. What’s really annoying is that it really is the easiest thing to stop from a client. Dr. Drew… I love ya’, but please do better…and Jill, please re-examine your statements.

  22. Mary says:

    Dr. Drew and Jill,

    In the work that we do, we often find that sexual addictions and sexual dysfunctions will follow after an abortion (or at least surface). It is also the case that the post abortive woman will find it difficult to forgive herself or share her experience out of fear that no one will recognize her pain or permit her to grieve. Do you ever broach this subject with your patients or is it way taboo? I find women are changing their mind about this procedure, because although it seems to alleviate the initial issues, the aftermath becomes unbearable and can manifest itself in the sexual nature. Your thoughts?

  23. mary says:

    where’s my post?

  24. kelly says:

    Euphoria is hard to say no to. until you can walk in the sunlight of the spirit. http://soberlivingbythesea.blogspot.com

  25. b says:

    Dr. Drew
    Do you really enjoy what you do or is it just for the Money? Why do the people you help have to be celebrities? Of coarse I really do not see how some of them are celebrities?!?!?
    If you truly enjoy your work and you believe it helps and saves lives, why cant you help non clebrity people like me? Why ?