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  • Writer's pictureDayna Sharp, LCSW

How Hollywood Shapes Your Expectation of Your Therapist

You may have some ideas of what to expect from a therapist, just from seeing them on tv and in the movies. Believe it or not, these pictures and caricatures influence what we expect when we're looking for our own therapist. They might even get in the way of finding your own therapist, or at the very least, contribute to anxiety about starting with someone new. Check out the following pics:

From the movie "analyze this", we have a male therapist, wearing a suit, a tie, glasses, beard and lots of books in the background. The "patient" appears distressed, and the therapist has a relatively blank--even bored--look on his face, with his hand on the side of his face, perhaps drafted to indicate a listening action, but probably reflecting more boredom.

Here's another famous therapist, Dr. Phil. Another man, wearing a suit and tie, almost a smile, but more of a daring look. Is it me, or is there something confrontational about his facial expression and body language??

The therapist from the Sopranos! A woman, but again wearing a suit and there are those glasses again! She is sitting in a fairly straight posture, something of a poker face. What is she thinking? How is she feeling? I can't tell! Can you?

Frasier! Maybe one of the most famous Hollywood therapists. Another man, another suit. There's that hand and finger again! And what's happening with his eyebrows? Are therapists always so frustrated???

Ooh, this one's a good one. A Clockwork Orange. The therapists in this movie represent another general thread of therapists--brainwashing, scary ones! Think about it: Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the staff in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Girl, Interrupted...the therapeutic staff were all kind of scary!

The Bottom Line:

We've all seen alot of images and representations of therapists. Many, many of them illustrate a fairly old idea of therapist: the blank slate. The therapist who doesn't smile, who doesn't really interact with the "patient". The therapist who is "uptight", overly serious, confrontational. Sometimes the therapist gives advice, ie. Dr. Phil. Other times the therapist is overly intellectual, ie. Frasier. Other times the therapist attempts to brainwash the patient against their will.

The good news is that this isn't what most therapists really look like. At Creating Space Counseling and Wellness you won't find some contrived representation of a blank therapist--instead, you will find an authentic, warm, caring person. Someone who will sit with you in silence when that feels right, but also someone who will laugh with you when that feels right. And the best part, if something feels not right, you will not find some "expert" who knows everything and never makes mistakes, but instead you will find someone who cares about your relationship and your experience in therapy and will hear your concerns. This is what a therapist really looks like!

So don't let your fears of a Hollywood-imagined therapist get in the way of your desire to seek out a therapist. Look past the Dr. Phils and the Frasiers, and allow yourself the gift of an authentic therapeutic relationship! Call Creating Space Counseling and Wellness for a free 15 minute phone consultation today! 856-281-1664


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