Dr. Jenn On Couples Therapy Episode 9: Rage House

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During the second-to-last episode of Couples Therapy, we saw what happens when a person lets their rage build over time. The end result is explosive (just look at Jon Gosselin for proof). We spoke to Dr. Jenn Berman about how the “Rage House” affected her patients on the show this week and how very necessary it is to let your anger out. Read all of Dr. Jenn’s commentary on the episode below!

Watching the final scene where everyone got their rage out —

It was intense, wasn’t it? So powerful. I think everybody should have to do the rage house, I would love to do the rage house! It really is an amazing experience to be able to let go of anger from your past.

Why does a scene like that, where you’re watching the physical manifestation of their emotions, bring out what it does in the viewer? Because it was so emotional to watch.

I think because you start to experience it with these people and people grow attached to these people. They’re human beings, they’re not characters, and one of the great things is that this show really shows that. By the time you’re this far into the season, people get the sense that these are multi-dimensional people with painful life experiences, so they identify. And even with someone they might not have liked at the beginning, they begin to care about and when they see that person in pain, it’s hard.

Initially I was worried about Sada and Taylor, who death with a lot of violence in their pasts, that the rage house would make them apprehensive to participate in this exercise.

Absolutely, and did you notice when Jon was doing his exercise, I was physically holding Taylor for that reason. I felt it was very important for her to feel grounded and stable and safe and protected. And it was a powerful exercise for her to express her anger, it was really important because she’s been around people whose rage was out of control and it’s prevented her from feeling her rage and getting to express it which is really important, because when you hold on to that, you end up acting it out in other ways and that’s destructive to you ad your relationship. It was great for her to finally get to express that. Anger is an empowering emotion and it’s important to be in touch with it.
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Was it unexpected for Jon to be the most destructive one in the group? Or had the things in his life just come to a head at that moment in time and he needed that release?

I think that it was so needed for so long. He has help so much in for so long and has been through so much that is so infuriating, I was hoping he would be able to let it out and I was thrilled that he did. And it was so important for Liz to witness that too, to be able to understand and respect him on a whole other level, it was so beautiful the way she held on to him afterward, it brings tears to my eyes just talking about it. When she looked at him and said, “You need more from me and I’m going to give it to you,” it was so powerful.

Sada’s dad was so receptive and really seemed to want to talk about his past with her and how it made her feel, was that surprising to see?

I thought it was great. You know, I never know what I’m going to get until the person shows up in the room, but what I’ve found over the years is that parents who are willing to come in are generally willing to look at stuff and do the work. I know Sada was feeling very protective of him and very worried about him and I wanted to make sure she left enough room for us to be able to go there and talk about it. t was important that he understood how much he hurt her, and it was also important for her to hear his apology and take responsibility.

With Farrah’s ex, Daniel, I was impressed with his criticism of her, but she didn’t handle some of what he said very well and ignored his attempt to say goodbye to her.

I think it was very hard for her to hear, and Farrah came so far in her time at the house in terms of taking feedback, and I also think that it’s especially hard for any mother to hear what feels like a criticism of you as a mom.It is a hot button for any mother. And that that came up at the end was especially hard for her to be receptive or warm when he left, but afterward when we sat and talked about it, she really took it in. I think she was able to to that after he left because a lot of what he said mirrored the feedback she was getting in the house, so there was truth to it and it was really important for her to hear it, and at the end of the day she did. She heard it and she learned from it and she was able to grow.

Now that the season is almost over, can we discuss what the experience is like for you to have experienced the therapy in real life and then to watch it all over again?

Experiencing it with the viewer is a very different experience than actually filming and being in the midst of the therapy. When I film, I’m in a bubble and it’s like, my whole life, 20 hours a day, living, breathing and being obsessed with my clients, and when I watch it, it’s amazing to re-live it and see it from a different perspective, and then to hear people’s reactions. A lot of people are very moved by it and their lives are changed and that’s an amazing feeling, and there are a lot of people who don’t like it or have big reactions to it and that’s a whole other thing.

It’s a mixed experience and at the end of every season as the couples are leaving, I talk to them a lot about what it’s going to be like for them as it’s airing and I always check in with my couples a lot when the show is airing because the show can push a lot of buttons, but we shared this experience that feels like an enormously personal experience that feels very weird to share, even though tat’s a big part of why we’re doing it, but its a very mixed experience to share.

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