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This Is How Reality Television Has Been Normalizing Therapy (And For Good Reason)

There has been an abundance of reality shows on television that feature stars availing therapeutic treatments. Unlike therapy-themed reality shows that used to be aired during the early 2000s, the new bunch of shows depicts therapy as the new normal. The American Psychological Association revealed that the widespread tendency to seek mental health services has increased over the years, and hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise when celebrity therapies are depicted far too often on reality TV. Therapy is something that’s not new, but when celebrities let go off the stigma, fans are bound to get intrigued.

Therapy On Television: The Early Days

Therapy on reality television looked a lot different in the early days from what it looks today. There existed several shows in the late 1990s and early phases of the 2000s when therapists rarely used to appear on TV. Big Brother was one of those first reality shows which caught the fancy of viewers. Survivor is another show that featured psychologists available for consultations. With time, mental health therapists started making appearances more frequently in front of the camera. Therefore, gone were the days when they used to be active just behind it.

As more shows started featuring therapy in each and every episode, the therapy sessions were actually put to use as a plot device. Breaking Bonaduce, a 2005 show which was aired on VH1, used a couples’ therapy session which revealed a lot of things which viewers never experienced before. There were many who criticized the show for showing stuff that was in bad taste. There are a lot of ways through which reality television shows garner a negative reputation. Some viewers feel that it’s just unethical to exploit an individual’s past just to get excellent ratings.

The Reality Of Filmed Sessions

A therapy session that’s filmed tries to mimic the nature of actual therapy sessions. However, the scenes that viewers enjoy in these shows can reflect what the situation is for non-reality stars, of course, with some minor differences. The primary difference between reality TV sessions and actual therapy sessions is the set-up time that is required for the entire filming of the session. However, once the therapy process goes underway, the sessions develop pretty naturally. According to experts, when people watch such reality shows, they see the characters being completely honest and transparent about their efforts and struggles, and they take a lot of inspiration from how they rely on a therapist to overcome their issues. Viewers get this feeling that they aren’t struggling alone with what they are dealing with. There are makers of shows who wish to have a positive effect on how the audience views therapy. This new crop of producers and directors are living behind a legacy.

Reality TV Therapy: The Ethnic Mix

It is true that ethnic minorities go through mental therapy sessions less than the racial majority – the white Americans in the context of the USA. There are people of diverse ethnic backgrounds who agreed to undergo therapy sessions filmed since it was important to allow people to notice that a colored person can actually visit a licensed therapist.

Normalizing therapy is important in communities where the stigma of receiving therapy is much greater comparatively. The biggest hope is that it will be less scary for people who watch such therapy sessions on television. They expect viewers to get attached to such shows and love to think that people who need therapy sessions but have inhibitions regarding attending such sessions would be inspired to take a crucial step in their lives. They also have the option to get in touch directly with the therapists and mental health experts they see on television.

Being On Television Can Complicate Mental Health

Not every reality television show tries to present a realistic representation of the therapy sessions. Reality TV is not something that is tailor-made for everyone. The pressures of reality television can lead to an aggravation of mental health disorders. According to a number of experts, therapy is a necessity for celebrities, partly owing to the hectic schedule that they go through and the pressure of seeing their lives getting under the scanner and being exposed to the public. Hence, it becomes imperative for them to go through a check-up once a year.

Reality television wields a lot of influence as it encourages people to prioritize their mental health, among other things. Reports reveal that sharing your struggles and discussing issues with a professional can prove to be helpful to a large extent. No one can refute the influence of reality shows and the way they have normalized therapy.

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