Dr. Jenn Berman On Couples Therapy Episode 5: Comfortably Numb

This week on Couples Therapy, Ghostface Killah revealed that Kelsey is not his only girlfriend. Meanwhile, Sada hinted at some past family trauma that may have an affect on her relationship with Whitney, and Farrah revealed a history of bad sexual experiences. Dr. Jenn Berman spoke to us about this week’s episode all about sex and got to the root of many of her patients’ issues. Read all about it right here.

I’m glad that you got right to the point with Jon and Liz at the beginning of this episode. Last week he had denied that he was masturbating when she walked in on him in their room, but this week it was basically acknowledged that yeah, he was masturbating and that’s not really uncommon for him.

He’s a grown man, he’s an adult, he has every right to do it. It’s a healthy part of human sexuality.

The fact that Liz got so upset over it made me think that it’s not the first time she might have caught him.

I can’t really speak to that, but the bottom line is that she took it personally. What was most revealing was when she said “I’m right here. Why are you choosing to do that when you could be with me?” And I think it hurt her feelings.

Everything that you told Liz about how her reaction shamed Jon left her speechless. Did she herself feel somewhat shamed by her behavior and how you called it out?

Yes. And I think it was appropriate shaming. Sometimes in therapy you have to hold the mirror up to someone and show them that what they’re doing is not okay. I think that she didn’t realize how hurtful what she was saying and doing came off. Sometimes when we do a certain behavior or speak a certain way, over time we just get used to it and become numb to it.

This week, Farrah revealed that her dad caught her having sex at 15, which is traumatic in itself, but when you add to that the fact that she got pregnant and has a sex tape, I don’t even know where to start when asking about why she might have sexual issues.

She’s had a lot of trauma in her life — in multiple areas, not just around sex, she’s had so many traumas and as the season goes on, you’ll hear about more of them and it will kind of blow your mind. When you hear all that she’s been through you, have a new-found respect for her.

For her, did one thing lead to another? Because her early sexual experiences were traumatic, did that lead her to an unhealthy sex life later on?

It’s like a woven fabric. There are so many different traumas and they all got woven together. Everything from being caught, to her baby’s daddy dying, to the way people in her school responded to her show to the trauma with her family, there’s just so much.

Did you know beforehand that Ghostface was seeing somebody else?

I became aware of it as we started talking about their situation. At first I thought he was just generally talking about, like, “the ladies,” I didn’t realize there was one person that had been with him for so, so long.

While Ghost was suggesting that he get the two women, Latrice and Kelsey, together, what was going on in your mind?

I was thinking. “Why does he want to do this? How can this be therapeutic and valuable?” And then I was thinking to myself, “I need to run this by Kelsey because I need to protect her and see what she’s comfortable with because her comfort zone might be different from mine.” I needed to check in with her and see if she feels there’s anything valuable about this.

Is he just unaware, or maybe clueless to the fact that that wouldn’t be a good idea?

I think there’s a certain disconnect that he has, emotionally, with the women in his life. And it makes a lot of sense given his childhood trauma. But I think that what Kelsey was feeling was so far from what he expected and what he was feeling, that it was hard for him to relate to it and understand it.

During your session with Sada, she hinted at some family issues that she said she didn’t want to get into, will we get into that more later in the season?

We’re going to go deep and there’s going to be a family session.

Was it surprising to them to hear you say that you didn’t know if Whitney and Sada’s relationship could survive?

I mean, I kind of saw Whitney’s eyes pop open a bit at that, but I think that they know this. They love each other so much but they’re so volatile and, it’s like I was saying before with Liz, sometimes you acclimate to certain behavior and it becomes the norm. I think they had kind of gotten numb to this dynamic in the relationship.

We didn’t see too much with Taylor and John this week, was there anything you can add about how they dealt with this episode and the topic of sex?

They were great. they were very forthcoming about sex, they have a very passionate sex life and they’re very attracted to each other. For Taylor, it’s the first time she’s felt so safe in the bedroom and so cared about that it’s been quite magical for her. But at the same time, Taylor has a lot of people-pleasing issues and I think that there are times where she has struggled to voice her own needs. But, by the way, I think John is very eager to meet any needs that she has. But I think it’s hard for her to ask.