If you’ve dreamed of being a fly on the wall in other peoples’ relationship drama, there are plenty of places to stream “Couples Therapy,” a Showtime documentary series documenting troubled couples in counseling with world-class therapist and psychoanalyst Dr. Orna Guralnik.
Season three, which will be split into two parts, will kick off on May 13, 2022, and new episodes will air Friday nights on Showtime. Let’s review more details about this real-life drama.
What is “Couples Therapy” About?
In this reality TV series, produced by Edgeline Films for Showtime, each season takes a deep dive into the relationships of four real-life couples in New York City as they examine their issues in therapy sessions with Dr. Guralnik. These couples are candid about their problems, which run the gamut – intimacy, trust, trauma, sexuality, and even the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.
“We are in awe of the bravery of these couples and deeply grateful for the continued opportunity to capture and share their struggles with the world,” say the show’s creators, Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg, and Eli Despres. “The therapeutic work is not just gripping — it is also a profound reminder of the power of reconciliation and the worthiness of striving to better love one another.”
Each couple explores their issues candidly with Dr. Guralink, facing their issues and celebrating breakthroughs on this reality show.
Is “Couples Therapy” Real?
For those wondering exactly how real the docuseries “Couples Therapy” is, you might be surprised to learn that these real couples are also Dr. Guralink’s actual patients. Each season, inspired by documentaries, features their sessions being filmed over six months.
Dr. Guralink said the series’ executive producers and filmmakers were fairly hands-off when it came to the couples and their storylines.
“They were super respectful of the participants, non-sensational, only wanting the truth, not wanting anything that is fabricated,” she said. “I feel like in this day and age, it’s a very important piece of work. It really goes against this whole intense polarization and demonization that this culture is afflicted by.”
The executive producers indicated the couples’ storylines are compelling enough on their own without exaggeration.
“The real dynamics of a relationship is always more complicated than it appears. With this show, you get to see the relationships from the inside,” says Josh Kriegman. “People are going to have a wide range of reaction to this. These are real people who are struggling and fighting for their relationships.”
The only thing that isn’t quite real is the set built especially for the reality show. They had to create a larger version of Dr. Guralink’s office – down to the same books on the shelves – for filming to accommodate the crew, cameras, lighting, and other equipment. Her regular office would be too small for this.
About Therapist Dr. Orna Guralnik
A world-renowned clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, Dr. Orna Guralnik practices in New York City. There, she’s also on faculty at the New York University PostDoctoral Institute for Psychoanalysis – which she graduated from – and the National Institute for the Psychotherapies.
Areas she teaches, writes, and practices include couples’ treatment and culture, dissociation and depersonalization, trans-generational transmission of trauma, socio-politics, ideology, and psychoanalysis.
Dr. Guralnik also sits on the editorial board of Studies in Gender & Sexuality and Psychoanalytic Dialogues. She co-founded the Center for the Study of Dissociation and Depersonalization at the Mount Sinai Medical School.
She’s also known for having her dog, Nico, join her everywhere – including in therapy sessions.
When she first learned about the show “Couples Therapy,” she was fascinated by the idea of documenting the therapeutic process in such a way. As an undergraduate, she studied film in Israel, and — thinking the show would be a good match for her interests, experiences, and skills — she initially planned to serve as a consultant.
“I thought it would be nice to advise them, but when we met, there was a powerful click. It still seemed totally off the wall to me; I was very ambivalent. I wondered whether it was even possible to do therapy in front of cameras that would feel like therapy and not something else,” she said. “I also had personal apprehensions: Would I be able to function in that situation? Is it something that’s right to do? From my point of view it was a risk. Some people said it would destroy my career.”
Though she hesitated initially, the producers convinced her to star in the show.
“I was quite skeptical about (it) in the beginning. Can I do this in front of the camera? We tried it out a few times and I realized it’s the same thing as doing therapy. I have a certain style. I just do it,” said Dr. Guralnik. “Then I got quite excited about the whole mission of the series. I thought, ‘Wow, This would be a great opportunity for me to share something I believe in and I love with a larger population. This could be a real public service.’”
About the Couples in Season 1 of “Couples Therapy”
Here are the couples followed in the first season of “Couples Therapy:”
Annie and Mau: After being married for 23 years, this couple seemed to be constantly bickering and were incompatible on many issues.
DeSean and Elaine: This couple had difficulties communicating and connecting. Both experienced trauma before meeting the other.
Sarah and Lauren: For this couple – in which one woman is cis, the other a transgender person – their significant issues were sexuality, gender, and whether it was the right time to have a child.
Evelyn and Alan: Jealousy was a big issue for this couple, as Evelyn constantly worried about what Alan was doing, causing him to pull away even more.
About the Couples in Season 2 of “Couples Therapy”
The second season of “Couples Therapy” followed a new group of couples:
Tashira and Dru: This fairly new couple – only together two years – got pregnant quickly and are navigating new waters.
Michal and Michael: This married couple of 11 years has children, but Michal would like to get pregnant again, despite their financial worries.
Gianni and Matthew: This gay couple is handling Matthew’s recent sobriety and how it redefines him – and their relationship.
Is “Couples Therapy” Coming Back for Season 3?
A new set of couples will put their relationship and real-life struggles on display in season three of “Couples Therapy” with Dr. Orna Gualnik. New episodes of the Showtime series, which will be aired in two parts, kick off on May 13, 2022.
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