In Treatment -- Paul, week 5

We open with Gina carefully arranging the chairs in her office as she waits for Paul and Kate. They arrive and Gina and Kate embrace. They haven't seen each other for sometime. Exchange of small talk. 

Gina moves to structure how they will proceed. Coming together was Kate's suggestion, Paul says. Gina suggests that they meet three times and then decide where to go from there. 

Gina asks how it is that Paul agreed to go along with Kate's desire to come to see her. Paul talks about Kate and her going to Rome and what she told him when she got back. Paul says he wasn't able to talk with Kate, and Gina says then Kate doesn't know how he feels. Paul turns a bit and tells Kate he has felt rage and hurt and doesn't know if he can get past it. Kate asks why he couldn't talk about it and he responds with what he tells patients. Gina catches this and points out how controlled he is.

Paul says he feels like he is falling apart. He tells her about attacking Alex because he knew he was reacting to Kate's return because he heard her. He pulls back and says he can't talk about a patient there. Kate is surprised he won't talk about what Alex did, about spying on  them. Gina asks how Alex learned what he did -- Paul says he doesn't know.  Kate asks if Alex, whom she calls his creepy patient, is her fault too.

Kate starts to talk, says it is always hard to describe her feelings. She draws an analogy to childbirth and just wanting to know she wasn't alone. But describing the experience is impossible. She makes a joke about what that process is like and she and Gina laugh but Paul feels left out and gets petulant.

Gina says Paul is not a therapist there just as he isn't at home.

Kate tells Paul she thinks that he told her about the attack on Alex for her benefit, to show her what she did by going away with Edward. Paul says she is the best thing in his life and she says she doesn't believe that. Kate says she asks if he loves her and how it feels for her when he answers, "Yes, for now." Paul protests that it is a joke, but Kate can't experience it that way.

Kate talks about how seriously he took her when they were getting together and how wonderful that felt. That he was the first person who tried to understand her and how grateful she felt. Now she feels that it was no about her at all, it was about him. She feels he using his analytic approach against her.

Gina asks if Kate can explain to Paul why she was seeing Edward. She says she doesn't want to and doesn't want to know. Then she yields and talks about the excitement and spontaneity of it, parts of her that died in her life with Paul. 

Paul starts to interpret and she gets angry and tells him to stop. Kate says she did it because she felt something, she felt wanted.

Paul says he wants her, that's why he is there. Gina asks if Paul wants a witness to verify that he loves Kate. Kate makes a comparison to Clinton denying what he did with Lewinsky.

Kate says she has to feel something in her gut to believe it and doesn't feel that with him. She asks if he can remember what it is to feel truly wanted. Gina and Paul exchange a look. Kate realizes they know something and she asks what is going on. Paul begins to talk about transference in order to broach the issue of Laura to show he knows what feeling wanted is like. Gina leans her head back. Paul is doing exactly what Kate has accused him of doing. Kate asks if he had sex with her. She asks if he is saying he had sex with a patient. He tried to make it non-specific but Kate knows.

Kate presses to find out what the unnamed patient has aroused. Paul is quiet and Kate says he doesn't have to say anything. She says that this is Paul's wagging finger and that he wouldn't say anything if thee weren't something there for him to cover up. 

Kate and Paul trade jabs over who is the more betrayed.

Gina asks Paul to describe what he feels with Laura like Kate did about Edward. He says it isn't the same because he didn't act it out. And he says she left therapy Monday. Kate attacks Paul for not rescheduling Laura for a meeting at school about Max, a meeting Kate cannot have gone to because she was not back from Rome.

Kate says it started a year ago, she knows it did. And demands the patient's name. Paul says her name is Laura. Kate badgers him to say it is nothing.

Each of them feels the aggrieved party. Gina points out they have both been pulling away and now they fight over who has been hurt the most. She asks how did this happen, how did the marriage come to feel this empty. She wraps up the session and says they will meet a few times.

Paul wants to write a check; Gina says no, she needs to think about it and send a bill.


Paul and Kate in marital therapy are like most couples -- wounded, angry, wanting the other to be made responsible for what has gone wrong. Neither Paul nor Kate can see or feel the other or recognize the full impact of their withdrawal from each other. Neither Kate's affair nor Paul's weakness with is the cause of their difficulty; they are symptoms of a deeper problem which began before either wandered away from the other. We don't know yet what that problem is, what happened to set them off on this course away from each other.

I have doubts about the wisdom of Gina working with them a a couple because she has such a tangled prior history with them. Better to refer them to another therapist and continue to see if she and Paul can work together because he still needs supervision -- with Laura, with Alex, and Sophie. There isn't a rule about how to handle this, but y personal belief is that they would be better off with a therapist who does not know either of them.

Paul's use of a kind of therapeutic dodge is an occupational hazard for may of us. It can be hard not to slip into interpreting the behavior of a spouse or friend, but that behavior does not belong in our personal lives and when we do it, it is usually a means to maintain control and distance.



© Cheryl Fuller, 2018. All  rights reserved.