Listening in

Kate Johnstone on BBC Radio 4's 'In therapy'.

Now in its second series, In Therapy on BBC Radio 4 offers the opportunity to eavesdrop on the world of psychotherapy. The therapist is real-life Susie Orbach, probably the best-known psychoanalyst in the UK. The clients are actors, who have been given a profile that explains their character’s life, background and reasons for seeking therapy. Each episode is an improvised scene recorded on concealed microphones at Susie’s surgery. The sessions have a verisimilitude that has not quite been achieved by similar attempts to portray what happens between therapist and client – notably the TV drama series In Treatment, where the psychotherapist was Gabriel Byrne, and the clients all photogenic (see www.imdb.com/title/tt0835434).

As in the first series, each 15-minute programme features a different client, enabling Susie to demonstrate a range of issues that can be brought to the consulting room. There’s John, a retired railway worker who in Series 1 declares he has fallen in love with Susie, but by Series 2 has transferred his affections to a sex worker. Another is Helen, a lawyer who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Then there’s Amelia, who’s worried about her teenage daughter Grace. Susie also sees Grace separately, and the series ends with Susie’s suggested joint session between Amelia and Grace. This includes a visceral argument between mother and daughter that offers Susie an unmissable opportunity to help them address their miscommunications. Although it can never get too deep, the format works well in illustrating what psychotherapy can do: a recommended listen.

In Therapy is available to listen again at tinyurl.com/jh6w8e7

- Reviewed by Kate Johnstone who is Associate Editor for Culture

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