“ Genre: Television - In Treatment / Theatrical Release: 2008 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Actors: Gabriel Byrne, Michelle Forbes, Dianne Wiest, Embeth Davidtz, Blair Underwood ... / DVD released 2010-02-01 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: Box set, PAL „
* Prices may differ from that shown
I was given the DVD box set of In Treatment season 1 for Christmas and couldn't wait to start watching it. I managed to watch all 43 episodes (approximately 25 minutes per episode) in a week. This adds up to 1084 minutes. I was addicted!
- What is In Treatment? -
In Treatment is an American HBO drama produced and developed by Rodrigo Garcia (he has previously worked on The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and Big Love). The show aired in 2008 in America, 2009 in the UK. The show has been awarded with Emmy, Golden Globe and Writers Guild awards.
Without giving too much away (I'm not including spoilers just a general overview), the focus of the show is Dr. Paul Weston (Gabriel Bryne) a 50 ish psychologist and his therapy sessions. Each episode shows one session, with a set of 5 sessions making one working week for Paul. For example:
Episode 1: week 1, Monday's session with Laura (Melissa George)
Episode 2: week 1, Tuesday's session with Alex (Blair Underwood)
Episode 3: week 1, Wednesday's session with Sophie (Mia Wasikowska)
Episode 4: week 1, Thursday's session with Jake and Amy (Josh Charles and Embeth Davidtz)
Episode 5: week 1, Friday Paul sees his own therapist Gina (Dianne Wiest)
Week 2-8 continue with this format, then week 9 has 3 sessions/episodes rather than 5.
Paul conducts his therapy sessions in an office attached to his own house so you occasionally see members of his family such as wife Kate (Michelle Forbes). You also catch the odd glimpse of other patients coming and going.
- My Opinion -
What I liked about In Treatment was that it is unlike any other TV series I have seen so far. I watch a lot of American and British series but I can't think of another example of a show about a psychologist and/or therapy, although many shows feature these subjects within other storylines. The series provides an insight into what might happen in a therapy session and the dynamics of the Psychologist/patient relationship. I like the main character, Paul Weston. For me it is very important to be able to empathise with characters and I definitely can with Paul. When a therapy session doesn't go well and a patient turns their aggression onto Paul, as I'm sure must happen in therapy, I felt sorry for him. When he says and does things that he shouldn't as a psychologist, I cringed and wanted to shout at him for making a fool of himself and over stepping the boundaries. He is generally a likeable and believable character which makes the show easy to watch. The storylines too are believable. I can imagine that the issues the patients have could be real life issues for many people, issues one make seek therapy for. Nothing seemed unrealistic to me which is unusual for a soap style drama in my opinion. Despite this realistic quality that In Treatment has it isn't boring, hum drum everyday life. The therapy sessions deal with intense and emotional issues some of which made me tear up. There are also a few moments of comedy which work well to lighten the mood. I would describe In Treatment as a well acted, well written gripping drama with each episode leaving you wanting more.
- Watching it on DVD -
If I am really into a series, like I was with this one, I definitely prefer to own it on DVD rather than watching it on TV as then I can watch as many episodes as I wish and don't have to wait a week to find out what happens next. I find another advantage of buying a series on DVD is that you get extras which can be entertaining in themselves. Unfortunately this DVD doesn't have any extras, this didn't bother me but it might disappoint some people.
- Price and Availability -
In Treatment season 1 is available on Amazon for £17.99. You can also get it from Play.com or HMV for similar prices. I think this is a good price considering the quality of the series and how many episodes there are.
- Would I Recommend? -
I would definitely recommend In Treatment to anyone who has an interest in therapy/psychology, is a fan of American TV series, or is a fan off any of the actors or actresses. I recommend buying the series on DVD if like me you want to be able to choose when you watch it and how many episodes you can watch. I really enjoyed watching In Treatment and I'm sure I will watch it again at some point.
2010 was an awful year for me, the year that my ex and I were no longer together, but still living in the same house for the duration while I divorced him for his unreasonable behaviour.
Before my ex moved out of our bed, I remember saying to him one night following a session with the marriage guidance counsellor (or divorce counsellor as I came to see her), "how the hell could you let me watch "In Treatment", watching Jake and Amy's story (in particular), when all along you knew that you were going to end things with me?" He responded that he saw watching a TV programme as completely different...but for some reason it really got to me as I'd watched these other people's marital problems whilst being completely oblivious to the problems in my own marriage.
I tried re-watching "In Treatment" on several occasions but found myself in tears as soon as I heard the music...it brought back too many memories which was a shame when I'd loved it so much.
---Introducing "In Treatment"---
"In Treatment" (an HBO drama produced and developed by Rodrigo Garcia) was aired on the Sky Arts channel in 2009 (it aired in the US in 2008), and for the first time I was so happy that we had Sky. My ex and I recorded it, and tended to watch all 5 episodes on the Friday night...or if was away for the weekend with his other woman then the following Monday. Alarm bells should've been ringing then. But they didn't...I was somewhat delusional!
I absolutely loved the concept of "In Treatment" (still do!), and think it was an amazing first season. At the time of watching I'd only dipped in and out of counselling over the years...mostly dipping out, as to be honest I wasn't ready to address my underlying issues...and counselling/therapy only helps when you're ready for it (my useful tip of the day). "In Treatment" is based (very closely) on an Israeli series (created by Hagai Levi) called "BeTipul".
Now we're in 2012 I've just spent 2 years with one counsellor (68 hours, and full hours rather than traditional counselling 50 minute hours), and have recently embarked on a year's psychotherapy...this is in addition to time in crisis houses, group therapy, my visits to my CPN (which is essentially therapy), oh and not to forget the divorce counselling....wow! It's just as well I LOVE talking about me (I am a narcissist after all) - can you tell?!
So it's interesting finally watching "In Treatment" again now I'm somewhat of an expert! So now it's time to settle down with Paul (Gabriel Byrne) as my therapist for the duration of this weekend.
The box set consists of 9 DVDs, one for each week of the show - each consists of 5 episodes (one for each week day) apart from the last week which only has three.
The running time is 1084 minutes (which is just over 18 hours), as each episode lasts around 25 minutes (they vary slightly - although bear in mind we have to imagine that each episode is 50 minutes). There are subtitles in English, Danish, Dutch, French, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Norwegian and Swedish. There are unfortunately no extras.
---So, what's it all about?---
Each week we see psychotherapist Paul working with 4 different clients/patients (whatever you want to call them) although we are aware that he does have others, therapy is his full-time occupation - 4 very different stories, but ones which combined address many different issues which arise in the therapeutic relationship. Paul seems to come from a psychodynamic psychoanalytic perspective - very much interested in the childhood experiences of clients and the impact that has had on their present day. Although there seems to be some confusion from some characters, Paul is not a psychiatrist (he has a PhD in psychology).
Paul is 50 years old, married to Kate (Michelle Forbes), and with a 16 year old daughter (Rosie), 9 year old son (Max) and an older son (Ian). He has practiced as a therapist for 20 years, and works from an office in his house. This leads to a number of issues, such as the boundaries of personal and professional lives being blurred (something that I know about only too well.)
Episode 1 - Laura (Melissa George - who I remember well from her Home and Away days) - "A young, attractive doctor shocks Paul by divulging the real motives behind her sordid bar encounter with a stranger."
It's Monday at 9am and we're introduced to Paul's first client of the week, a crying and somewhat dishevelled (but still beautiful) Laura. She has been in therapy with Paul for a year, and she has fallen in love with him. How will Paul deal with this over the course of the next 9 weeks, and will he reciprocate? That is the big question! Watching the sessions with Laura (there are quite graphic discussions about sex) I would suggest that this isn't a series you'll want to watch with your parents.
Episode 2 - Alex (Blair Underwood) - "An intense Navy pilot puts Paul's credentials to the test, while recounting the unfortunate events in Iraq that drove him into therapy."
It's Tuesday at 10am, and we meet Alex, a new client. Alex has recently suffered a heart attack following a mission which led to him killing 16 innocent children. Alex doesn't feel any guilt for this (or does he really?), he was on a mission and followed the orders of the mission (it wasn't his fault that the target was wrong), and we are quite confused as to why Alex is coming to see Paul. All will become clear over the course of therapy, but the case of Alex doesn't go smoothly...and there is quite a twist (not a happy one) to this story.
Episode 3 - Sophie (Mia Wasikowska) - "A precocious young gymnast asks Paul to render his 'professional opinion' on an insurance report detailing the girl's recent, suspicious accident."
It's Wednesday at 4pm and we meet Sophie, another new client. She isn't coming for therapy, she just wants Paul to write an opinion on an insurance report following a recent near fatal accident where she broke both of her arms. Sophie is 16, a gymnast and Olympic hopeful. The big question is whether the accident was a suicide attempt - what is really going on in Sophie's life, with her family, and with her gym coach?
Episode 4 - Jake & Amy (Josh Charles and Embeth Davidtz) - "A bickering husband and wife corner Paul on the issue they've spent the last three weeks debating; whether of not she should have an abortion."
It's Thursday at 5pm, and Amy is late for the joint therapy session with her husband Jake. This is their third session and she's always been late. It's a tense session, and Jake really gets to Paul, leading him to say some things which as a therapist it isn't really his place to say. Will Jake and Amy keep the baby? What is really going on in their marriage? And can it possibly survive?
Episode 5 - Gina (Dianne Wiest) - "Worried that he's 'losing patience with my patients' Paul pays a visit to a retired therapist he'd last seen nearly ten years ago."
Gina used to be Paul's supervisor (for 8 years), but he stopped seeing her 10 years ago (he didn't even go to her husband's funeral). Why was this? What happened? These are questions we want to know the answer to.
From a professional point of view I have to say it's quite concerning that Paul hasn't had supervision for 10 years. In the UK it is essential for counsellors/therapists to have supervision (if they are to be members of professional bodies, which you really need to be in order to practice).
According to www.counsellingresource.com supervision exists for two reasons:
"* to protect clients, and
* to improve the ability of counsellors to provide value to their clients.
Supervision protects clients by involving an impartial third party in the work of a counsellor and client, helping to reduce the risk of serious oversight and helping the counsellor concerned to reflect on their own feelings, thoughts, behaviour and general approach with the client."
But anyway, it's not mandatory in the US, and perhaps this partly explains why Paul has been losing focus. Anyway it's now Friday at 7pm and he's back seeing Gina (at her house). Paul discusses the issues he is having with his clients, but as Gina delves deeper we find that the real issues are stemming from Paul and Kate's relationship difficulties. Will their marriage survive? I think that the sessions with Gina are perhaps the most interesting sessions.
Aside from the main clients, Gina and Paul's wife, there are only a few other significant characters in the show.
---So that's the gist of it---
I think that talking about the first week will give you enough of a gist, to talk about further episodes would involve spoilers, and would also make this review even longer and certainly boring. I will mention that at the start of each episode there is a rundown ("Previously on In Treatment") of what happened in the previous week which is useful if you don't watch them one after another (and even if you do, as you don't want to confuse clients!) as I have. Another way to watch the series could be to watch each client's stories in turn rather than each week...but then you'd miss other things which go on in between, in particular Paul's responses to his clients which he discusses with Gina.
I absolutely love "In Treatment" (can you tell?!) I particularly enjoy the characters of Laura and Sophie and can relate to parts of their personal experiences which led them to therapy. Gabriel Byrne's acting is amazing (all the acting is good) which is essential as it's pretty much 18 hours you get to spend with him - and from the perspective of someone who has received a lot of therapy, it all seems very genuine to me - as a viewer it's like being given a door into the usually very private experiences which go on in a therapy session - this might be eye opening for those who haven't experienced therapy. There are so many little (and bigger) twists in the storyline, and of course you'll have to watch it to find out!
---More of the same?---
I have to admit I haven't yet bought season 2, as far as I'm aware it hasn't been aired on British TV. However, now I have rewatched and fallen back in love with the show I will make rectify this in due course - although I've currently got a subscription to LoveFilm (Christmas present) and it is available for rental, I'm confident that it's one I'll want to keep so I will buy, although perhaps wait until the price has come down a bit (it's currently £30.99). There is also a season 3, so I'm even more excited!
On the other hand, season 1 which I've just reviewed is available new on Amazon for £17.99, and previously I have seen it available for less. Cheaper than a therapy session anyway - it costs $150 per 50 minute hour to see Paul - thankfully I haven't ever had to pay myself for therapy, I'd be bankrupt by now with all that I've had!
I would highly recommend this to anyone who meets any of the following criteria:
* Has ever experienced counselling/therapy - either giving or receiving it
* Likes Gabriel Byrne, Melissa George or any of the other actors
* Wants to watch something a bit different from other TV series
There are only a few very minor niggles with the series:
* the theme music can get a bit irritating
* some of the storlylines are slightly weaker than others
A full 5 stars from me (and it would seem that judging by the glowing reviews on Amazon that I'm not alone, although the odd few have found it slightly slow or dull...but they're the minority) - "In Treatment" is likely to evoke so many emotions in you - sadness (it is heart-wrenching at times), happiness (there are some lighter moments!), shock, surprise, anger, frustration, sympathy, hope, and embarrassment.
Well worth watching, although very heavy-going at times - enjoy the therapy!