Dr. Jenn Berman On Couples Therapy Episode 8: Let The Healing Continue

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Farrah
Well, if you were wondering why Farrah acts in certain ways, this week’s episode of Couples Therapy should help explain dome of her behavior. In this week’s show, we met Farrah’s mom, Debra, whose demeanor was icy and unflinching, especially when it came to the way she treated her daughter. We spoke to Dr. Jenn Berman who told us how she was feeling during her session with the two women and why Debra has a hard time revealing her emotions. We also discussed the honesty and maturity with which Kelsey is handling her breakup from Ghost, and why she thinks Sada “set Whitney up” during their final scene. Read on for Dr. Jenn’s take on episode 8.

What was going through your had dealing with Farrah’s mom? It felt like she was completely out of touch with the way she shows her emotions, or maybe she was in denial about them.

So many things were going through my mind during that session. The first, most obvious thing for me was every single defense that I’ve seen Farrah do since the moment she got here, I’m watching her mom do, times one hundred. It really helped me understand Farrah’s defenses and so much about Farrah, it was really helpful. I’m grateful to Farrah’s mom that she was willing to come, it was so enlightening to me as a therapist. That was the first thing. The second thing was how out of touch Debra is with her feelings, and how difficult and painful it is for her to own her negative emotions. I think a lot of people struggle with that. We live in a society where, especially women, are supposed to not be angry or feel certain things, and as a mother we think we’re not supposed to feel, and when people feel those feelings and think it’s not okay, sometimes people don’t know what to do with them.

On top of her not knowing how to handle her feelings, the thing I noticed was that she was constantly asking what Farrah wanted her to do. “Does Farrah want me to hug her?” “What does Farrah want me to say?” I felt like, why not just give Farrah a hug and see what happens?

It was about a two-hour session that you’re seeing condensed down to a few minutes, and she did keep saying “What do I need to do?” and I kept trying to say to her, “Try to understand her feelings.” But it’s like she couldn’t do that. I think that however good Debra’s intentions may be, it’s very hard for her to step outside of herself and her own perspective to understand what life is like through her daughter’s eyes.

One other thing I want to say about this session is that I think it was an enormous breakthrough for Farrah, it was so enlightening for her, and I’m really excited for the viewers to see it because I get so many calls on my radio show and so many emails from people who are frustrated by a relationship with someone in their life, whether it’s a mother, father, a spouse, where they are wanting to get their needs met by this person, and they are repeatedly not getting them met, and it’s painful. And I think that moment where I was able to say to Farrah, “Your mom can’t do it. You have to accept her limitations and you have to abandon any hope of having that relationship you wanted to have with her,” I think will be such a breakthrough for so many viewers struggling with that.

I was really surprised at first to see that Kelsey and Ghost were still staying in the same room together and thought that might make things tense between them, but I was surprised to hear how forgiving she’s trying to be and how invested she still is in his therapy.

She struggled with it, and she struggled with it in a really beautiful, honest, authentic way. She loves Ghost, and Ghost does love her in his own way and they do have a bond and a friendship. And one of her goals during her time in the house was to work through this pain and resentment so that she could leave not being as resentful. I loved the moment in or childhood trauma group when Ghost has that breakthrough, that was such amazing work he did, and the look on Kelsey’s face was so wonderful, she was so proud of him, and you could also see it on her face the moment where she realized “Oh my God, this was never about me, this was about what he didn’t get and it doesn’t matter how wonderful I am, this is a deficit in him,” it was a great moment.

I know how hesitant Sada was, initially, to talk about the abuse by her father, were you surprised at how much she let out?

I knew she would get there. I knew how scary and painful it was but also how necessary it was, I was so proud of her that she was able to talk about it. I’m a big believer that when someone hurts you, especially as a child, and you hold that secret for them you take on the shame and it hurts you. It makes you a prisoner of the abuse. But when you’re able to talk about it and recognize that it wasn’t your fault, you’re able to let go of that burden. That was an important part of her healing, and that healing was an important part of her relationship.

Was she worried about how upset her dad would be to her revealing this information?

She was very worried, and she felt very responsible for her dad and his feelings which was a very unhealthy dynamic in their relationship. Part of her talking about it, therapeutically, changes the dynamic. Her not carrying that burden and letting go of that changed it.

At the end of the episode, Whitney was really trying to connect and support Sada, but Sada wasn’t seeing it.

And actually, Sada set her up. I’m excited for Sada to see this episode from the outside now that she’s had a little time because it was very reflective of their dynamic in that Sada says, “No, you don’t have to go with me,” and then gets mad at her when she doesn’t go with her. She set Whitney up to disappoint her by not being honest and direct. It’s painful for Whitney, because Whitney is so tuned in to Sada and so wants to help her and be there for her, you see her working her ass off to try to be there for Sada, and Sada is again and again setting her up and pushing her away. For my couples, and I’m still in touch with them, the therapy continues as they watch the episodes because it really is therapeutic. I wish all couples could have cameras on them all the time and watch their fights replay. It’s such an amazing opportunity to let the healing continue.