Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In Treatment - the silent listener played by Gabriel Byrne

'In Treatment' is a TV series starring Gabriel Byne as a therapist which can be viewed now on DVD with series three becoming available in Australia later in 2012. We witness his therapy sessions and the variety of the clients who consult with him.  Each has an appointment so the viewer must wait until the coming week in the series to follow the thread of the client's story.  At the conclusion of each week the therapist meets with his supervisor and there we experience how the character reflects on his life and what it means to him to be a therapist. The series is based according to the credits on an Israeli series.

Silence creates spaces for discovery. Often the client will attempt to draw the therapist into their life story desiring approval, a deeper relationship, the object of their desire or of their rejection. The therapist often will draw the energy to a new level of self discovery. This is not always the case since sometimes he is unable to stand back and intervenes. On occasions this is beneficial but not always. For me In Treatment is a very human drama, a dance of exploration and the opportunity to reflect on my own life as a human being and as a therapist.

Intimacy is the question around which questions revolve since the couch is often the place where the therapist experiences more intimacy than they have ever experienced in being listened to without judgement in a safe and therapeutic environment. The therapist must hold the space and hold the silence and I often admire his caution and reserve and his ability to avoid the kinds of snares that the clients consciously or unconsciously place within the flow of words and sometimes actions.

'In Treatment' sounds like 'entreatment' a form of asking and of seeking for something from the other. I admire the silence, the deep listening abilities of the character in this series and his ability to mentally stand back from the story to see a wider space and to encourage the client to look in that direction.

In a society of ready answers where talk can be cheap and where this is a presupposition that a person must respond to spoken or written questions and where not to share something of oneself is considered a social sin or an act of rudeness, 'In Treatment' encourages me to be more silent, more reticent so that when I do speak I move the conversation to a place of discovery. Yet while silent, the therapist played by Gabriel Byrne makes eye contact, plays with his spectacles, nods his head and as the viewer from outside the room in this fictional narrative, gives me the impression of fully listening to the conversation within the remembrance of past conversations.

To be silent then is to open space, to help the other discover choices, strengths and insights and to refrain from rescuing the other and so perpetuating old patterns and habits.

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