You are probably here because you watched Family Man and saw this character:
Or maybe you are just curious as to why this man is catching all the eyeballs on social media right now. Whatever be the case, I am glad you are here and hope you read it till the end.
Why Sri and Suchi are in a Counselor’s office?
In the second season of Family Man, Sri and Suchi were going through a rough patch in their relationship. Suchi is a Psychology professor turned entrepreneur for a startup called Shrink Me. The startup is determined to provide mental help and destigmatize it in the process. In season one, the app does pretty well and gets the seed money to begin the journey.
Cut to season two and Suchi is going for counseling sessions to figure out her internal struggles and untangle her relationship with Sri. In this pursuit, she invites Sri for one of the sessions. He is reluctant. Nevertheless, he tags along for a session.
The counselor weirdly has a copy of Chandrakanta in his office bookshelf! I am not bluffing. If you pause multiple times, you will find it.
Other readings available are:
Origin of Species
One book by JD Salinger (my wild guess- its Catcher in The Rye)
These are just observations. I wish not to comment on them.
Why the controversy?
The scene which has caught the audience and most importantly the mental health professionals is the moment, where Suchi & Sri are present in the office for their 1st couple session.
If I can represent the whole session in a graph…I would present it like this:
The nature of the session was simply abrupt. Sri never got a chance to feel okay about the process. There was no concept of rapport formation at any level.
The counselor begins the session fiercely. He is confrontational.
Fierce and confrontational because intimacy is a weird subject for the majority of Indian couples. It is a subject of shame and guilt. It is a matter of closed doors.
Intimacy, emotional and physical, continue to be a taboo subject.
Therefore, putting Sri in that position was not a great idea.
What Counseling Is Not?
- To begin with, it is not too attacking. (See the graph).
- It is not advice: I mean yes, in sessions the counselor and client talk but the advice bit comes later. Case history, context, and need determine the arrival of suggestion. It is a collaborative and democratic space. As a client, you have every right to feel safe, and not feel attacked.
- It is not about life quotes: Family Man’s counselor constantly speaks like personified brainy quotes websites. Metaphors or quotes can be used but usually with a motive to help and not lecture the client. So, beware of such professionals.
- It isn’t objective: Counseling is not “one size fits all”. A well-trained professional provides person-specific space because being human is like a rainbow. Experiences are like a spectrum of colors, yellow can never be blue, right?
But It’s a Character in a Storyline
I understand how much the mental health movement is still struggling to create awareness and moments like these feel like a dent but hear me out.
In episode 2-season 2, we see Mr. Counselor advising Suchi not to tell Sri the truth because from “his experience” it’s always difficult to face the truth. By the last episode of the season, Suchi tells Sri that she wants to talk about something.
Looks like the writers wanted to show us how bad of an advice counselor gave and it eventually didn’t work because the burden of truth is a burden for a reason. It demands to be shared and one can never predict the consequences as it’s sitting somewhere in the future.
The storyline shows the frustration of clients well. With Suchi’s body language changing when offered rather odd advice by her counselor and Sri’s response which got featured in the trailer as well.
So What Now?
The frustration that many professionals are feeling is legit. On the other hand, writers took creative liberty to weave a storyline (that is their right).
The professional community can be angry with the portrayal, that’s fine. I also think we can use this very character in training workshops. Mr counselor can be used for awareness projects to showcase what counseling should not be, right?
Is the concluding point too positive? I think so too.
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