Couples Therapy’s third season is full of new couples, new conflicts, and new hope for everyone in the care of Dr. Jenn Berman. We’ll be catching up with Dr. Jenn each week this season to get her take on the show and see what went on behind the scenes. This week, we tackle the arrival of Dustin and Heather, the startling maturity of Tyler and Catelynn, and the person who surprised her the most this season. She promises that what we’ve seen so far is nothing compared to what’s coming up on future shows. “Episode seven is the most stressful episode you’ll ever see in your life,” she says, and this season is “the most intense ever.” Read on for Dr. Jenn’s take on the week’s antics.
Dustin and Heather arrived at the end of last week, but their late arrival gave the rest of the cast time to Google them and Joe discovered Dustin’s past as a porn actor. Was Dustin aware of this at all?
At the time, he was not.
Is that something that gets addressed later?
You know, so many other conflicts came up later that that specifically wasn’t so much. There were so many other massive conflicts that took precedence.
Tyler and Catelynn are the youngest couple in the group but they seem like the most mature. Is that fair to say?
Absolutely. Tyler and Catelynn were remarkably mature for their age or really for any age. I loved how Tyler, when he saw the video of Dustin, told the other guys, “Look, I don’t want to watch this, I don’t want to pre-judge him.” I thought that showed such maturity and open-mindedness. Tyler impressed me over and over again with his maturity and insight. I really felt like in a lot of ways he was a leader of the men in terms of opening up. He set the bar so high when it came to doing deep work and it had a positive impact on the group. Next week’s episode is an even deeper episode when it comes to his situation. It will blow you away.
Tyler and several of the group members also had the courage to point out Joe’s habit of controlling Abbey this week when you asked the group to evaluate one another, which I thought was brave because Joe seems very intimidating and instills a fear in people.
It’s funny Joe doesn’t realize how he affects people, and one of the things I said to Joe during our work together was that I feel an especially big obligation to you to call it like it is because when you leave here, you have a lot of people who blow smoke up your ass. I think it’s important to have someone reflect back to you what’s really going on and what you’re like in a relationship. I thought Tyler was great at calling him on this and the other person that was great at that was Temple. She was really ballsy, over and over again she called Joe out on her stuff.
Abbey just seems so lost in their relationship.
You’re going to love seeing Abbey’s evolution. You know me, there’s nothing I love more than empowering women, and to see someone like Abbey who is really bright and perceptive, and to see her in this position where she’s not being heard in her relationship, and not only that but it was like Joe was missing out on how great Abbey is. When Abbey doesn’t have a voice in the relationship, Joe doesn’t get to see the full Abbey in all of her wonderfulness.
What was your first impression when you heard you’d be working with Joe Francis, since you are as you say, all about empowering women, and he’s all about objectifying them?
My first response was “How am I going to be able to work with him?” “Is he going to be able to do meaningful therapy with a woman therapist?” “Is he capable of forming a meaningful attachment with his girlfriend?” “Is he capable of change?” What I pleasantly discovered is that Joe is not who I thought he was. In some ways he is, he’s strong-willed and all that, but Joe has a really strong attachment to Abbey, he loves her desperately and would go to the ends of the earth for her. He resisted me a lot but he was willing to work on stuff. One of the things that surprised me the most was his depth, that was the most wonderful surprise of the season.
I’m waiting for that surprise.
In episode seven you’ll see some of it. It will explain a lot about Joe.
Flav and Liz: This is a man who is famous for, among other things, being on dating shows, basically, but the whole time he was with Liz. Does knowing that just make you think you have a tougher job cut out for you?
In the scheme of all the things Liz and Flav have been through, there are other things that concerned me more than that. My concern was more about the damage that was done to the relationship and to Liz and what it meant in their dynamic. You saw it in that episode with what happened in group. Flav is well-meaning and he loves Liz, but there are a lot of times with Flav where, because his persona is larger than life, he gets swept up and is busy worrying about what other people think that he’s not able to listen to his girlfriend. I think what he does in this episode is something a lot of people can relate to. When your partner tells you something you did that hurt them, it’s really easy to get defensive and miss the message. What she was saying is I feel alone in this relationship, I need your attention. But he was s busy correcting her that he missed the message. Most people do that.
A lot of people don’t realize that Liz was very successful before she met Flav. She was an accountant, she bought her own house and was doing quite well, and when she came into Flav’s life, they had a child and decided she would be a stay at home mom and she lost a lot of her autonomy and power in her own life. She feels like Flav is controlling her especially with the money, and that’s frustrating.
What’s your overall impression of this group compared to previous seasons? Season one was very supportive, last season felt a little more divided because of Courtney and Doug.
But at the same time, that unified the group, it was like, us against Courtney and Doug! I would say that in season one, DMX’s childhood trauma was off the charts. This season, when I did the childhood trauma group, I felt like I had nine DMXs in the room. The level of trauma for nine out of ten of this group’s members is off the charts. Like nothing you can wrap your head around. The things these people have survived, and as a result of all that childhood trauma, affects your relationships, and not just romantically, but all of your relationships. And it played out in the house a lot. This was a much more intense group, a much more volatile group that was more aggressive with each other, and it made for, by far, the most intense season ever.