The cable channel has finally brought out the big guns for their beautifully written and acted (but apparently little watched) series In Treatment.

Three therapists have begun contributing to a new feature at the In Treatment website. “Talk Therapy” is actually an episode recap and then extended analysis, beginning with Week 4.  You can add your comments to their articles as well. Here are some samples of their observations:

Sunil, by Randy Paulsen, MD

Sunil’s language is beautiful–“someone is pulling a hot thread through my heart”–but it is now being spoken in a new context, with new effects on him. With Paul he is telling this old story to someone who feels pain at hearing, who connects the story to dreams and distortions (his reactions to Julia), and Sunil thus hears his own story through Paul’s presence. This brings Sunil in contact with the actual buried pain that he felt long ago, perhaps a pain that, alone, he had been unable to bear until now. Even now, it is something hardly bearable. “My mind is like a bad neighborhood. I don’t go there alone,” writes Annie Lamott. Paul is Sunil’s companion in this visit to his bad neighborhood.

Smoking calms me.

Frances, by Rachel Seidel, MD

Though we are getting a few brief glimpses of what’s inside Frances’ mind in week 4, she remains mostly a figure obscured by smoke and fractured by mirrors for me. As she tells Paul, “all my connections are fiction, always have been,” adding later that, after performing, “I go home, the apartment’s dark, the fridge is empty.” I think these are important revelations about her self-experience and self-state…

Frances’ narrative about her mother seems to me, at least in part, to be another performance. While it is somewhat affecting and one feels the germ of some emotional truth in it, Frances brings out the smoke and mirrors again; she razzles and dazzles Paul and us with a story that tells of love, but love that is expressed partly in the form of a collusion with her mother to cover up the reality of illness and pain with face paint and theatricality, literally putting a good face on it.”

Is there any “there” there?

Paul, by Joseph Shay, PhD

Paul, Paul, Paul. Can’t help yourself, can you? Is it those boots?

This is a compelling episode in its entirety, and the segment that might be the most juicy is the one in which Paul discloses that he was fantasizing about Adele while having sex with Wendy–earlier that very day, the timing of which Adele has already gathered was not by accident….

Paul the offers this remarkable insight about himself: “I’m beginning to realize I’ve got this pattern. I seek out people who have themselves a passion for life and I feed off them instead. I allow them to feel for both of us.” Remember the session with Frances this week? Paul is expressing his version of “there is no there there.” We do have to wonder, since we viewers have known this about Paul for two seasons now, why Paul never explored this when with Gina?

Complicated Paul

Analysis like this adds to our understanding and our appreciation for this remarkable television experience. And it is definitely more fun than actual therapy. Kudos to HBO for bringing these expert eyes to focus on In Treatment.


  1. Hi. I’m one of those three shrinks.

    Thanks very much for mentioning this.

    Wait until you see what we have for this week!

    • Hi, Joe! I loved what you had to say about Paul, Week 4! And it was a great episode in its entirety, as you say, and not wonderful just because Gabriel turned on his sexy blue eyebeams at the end…

      Can’t wait for the new stuff. This is becoming a real roller coaster ride. :-)

      Thanks for visiting us here at Byrneholics.

  2. I adore this show. It’s rich in humor, too. I found the sneezing episode funny, and when Paul was trying to describe the ‘encounter’ between Jesse and the boy who beat him up in the bathroom. And Sunil has a great sense of humor, too. His whole monologue about how Julia had described the author’s new book. The drama – like human beings – is not one dimensional – although the pain is great, the stories are serious, there’s also a snippet here and there of humor. I love this show.

  3. Hi!
    This is another one of us 3 shrinks writing about each episode of season 3 of In Treatment (starting with week 4 and through week 7).
    So glad you’re enjoying our commentaries. I am also pleased to get to know your really elegant and well-written website. Thanks for including us!

    • Rachel, OMG! Another one. What a great Sunday I am having!

      We Three Shrinks. Sounds like a TV series. You should follow up on that. ;-)

      You folks are doing a fabulous job of analyzing these episodes. I learn/realize something new every time I read one. It is great that you are doing this.

      Thanks for visiting here and thanks for your kind words about this site. We love In Treatment, but we love Gabriel Byrne even more. Or something…


  4. Delightful, Stella! I think you have a great idea–maybe we could pitch it to the HBO producers: We Three Shrinks–catchy! In the meantime, stay tuned for more of our commentaries on after this weeks’s episodes air. And please do post your own thoughts as well.

    • This is a MOST delightful idea Stella and Rachel!! I am signing up right now to watch We Three Shrinks!!

      While you are doing the pitch to HBO, Rachel, please also pitch more seasons of In Treatment. Whatever they need to give to Gabriel Byrne to do more seasons, they need to “just ante up and do it”……..

      Finding IT totally by accident in 2008 (and of course, Gabriel Byrne/Paul Weston) was the best thing that could have happened to me. IT was just what I needed when I needed it – HBO should keep the show going as a public service!!! And it goes without saying that IT is only IT with Gabriel Byrne. As Paris Barclay said in a show promo, “I don’t think it’s any secret that there’s no In Treatment without Gabriel Byrne. He’s the, the sort of molten core of the entire show.” Yes, indeed!

      I will definitely watch and support We Three Shrinks along with In Treatment – so go to HBO and do that PITCH!

      ‘Nuf said………..

      Kris (USA)

  5. Joe and Rachel – thanks for posting on the Byrneholics home page. Perhaps Randy will also check in…… Stella will be ecstatic if he does as well she should be. Byrneholics is a fantastic site and it is due to Stella’s dilligence to keep it updated -it is a class act.

    I am enjoying your comments on the HBO site and I applaud HBO for being so active on their In Treatment site during the season. It is always exciting to hear from real therapists about IT and know they are watching the favorite show and fictional therapist of all Byrneholics forum members.

    Looking forward to Week 5 shows and your reviews…… Thanks again!!

    Kris (USA)

  6. Randy Paulsen

    Hi Stella and fellow ByrneHolics,

    I have appreciated your comments. Your site is very well done. I’m looking forward to watching tonight’s episodes and to hearing people’s thoughts about our three commentaries. It’s been a pleasure working with Joe and Rachel, and it’s also a pleasure to visit the site of genuine Gabriel Byrne fans. We’re hoping some folks will also post comments on the therapy site. One good conversation begets another.

    • Randy! Now we have all 3 of you here! As observed, I am ecstatic. :-)

      Yes indeedy: one good conversation begets another. I encourage everyone to visit the HBO website and join in. Leave a comment at Talk Therapy. The episodes this week are just waiting for your thoughts (I watched them all tonight ON DEMAND and I’m still reeling from so much amazing writing and acting and so much Gabriel Byrne! With pancakes! Oops. Sorry. Narrowly averted a spoiler there).

      Thanks to The Three Shrinks for their work on illuminating In Treatment for us.

    • hi Randy and fellow shrinks !
      I just read a few of your articles on the Talk Therapy pages over at HBO. very interesting ! thanks a lot for giving sort of “expert” view on the show. I’m really glad to see that professionals find it as compelling as we do !

  7. If Gabriel ever visits here tell him I love him, so much , he’s hot

  8. Cythandra

    I just need to know if they make a pill for this?

  9. I, too, am a huge “In Treatment” and Gabriel Byrne fan.

    I LOVE the way “Paul Weston” is so empathetic and wise with his patients, yet can’t get a grip on his own tangled life problems. I was in therapy years ago, and was interested in what I heard one shrink claim about another I had seen in my teens. Wonder why some people become psychiatrists? By the way, is Paul a psychiatrist or a psychologist??

  10. HI, once more, Stella.
    I’m visiting your site again. You have done a really remarkable job in designing this site and keeping it alive and well, so congratulations to you!
    I hope Gabriel Byrne looks in on it once in a while to see how popular he is with so many. Clearly, he’s popular with us. I think his acting in In Treatment is stellar.
    Today and tomorrow offer the final episodes of Season 3, and I can tell you from having screened them, they are superb.
    We three shrinks have now written our final pieces in the Talk Therapy section of HBO, and they’ll appear probably tomorrow morning for Frances and Sunil, and Wednesday morning for Jesse and Adele.
    Thanks to all of your fans who have come to the HBO site to see what we have to say! If there’s a season 4–which we all hope for–perhaps we’ll meet again.
    Warmly, Joe

    • Joe,

      Thank you so much for your kind words about Byrneholics. With my co-conspirators (heh heh) Lara and Aragarna, I work hard to keep things up to date and organized and I’m happy that you are enjoying it. If you ever see Mr. Byrne, be sure to tell him about us, ok? ;-)

      On a personal note, which I don’t usually do here on the main site: I’ve had no chance at all to participate in the Talk Therapy conversations at the HBO site due to a death in my family. I’ve managed to watch most of the episodes of Season 3, but I can hardly process them–they hit too many nerves close to home, this time around.

      So, I really hope that HBO keeps your stuff up on the website for more comments later on. Please let them know more people will visit and speak their piece, but perhaps not right at the moment!

      THANK YOU all, you Three Shrinks, for adding so much to our understanding of and appreciation for this wonderful series. Kudos to you!!

      Best to you. Stella

      • Hi, Stella.
        I just wanted to say that I’m very sorry for your loss. While the impact of a death in a family impacts different people differently, I can hear in your words how difficult it has been. My thoughts are with you.

  11. Nora from Norway

    Thank you very much to Joe and the other shrinks that have written in the Talk Therapy section of HBO. I have read every word you have written with big wideopen eyes and big interest. It is so much to learn about life and human behavior from In Treatment and from your comments about it.

    If Santa Claus would fulfill only one wish for Christmas it had to be that there would be more seasons of In Treatment from HBO.

    Now I am really looking forward to see what happens in the four last eposodes of IT3

  12. Cythandra

    Hi Joe, I just watched the last four this morning and they were very, very powerful. Sunil episode really threw me. I have to ask, for pure curiosity, do patients ever yell at you, like they have in the show or is that just done for the show?

    I personally would love a Season 4.


  13. Oh, yes, they yell at me. Not so much in recent years but most therapists who’ve been around the block for many years have had this happen. It’s not frequent but the show is more-or-less realistic on that front. I will add, however, that, across the three seasons, Paul Weston had a larger than usual number of people want to either yell at him or walk out on him beginning with the first session.
    Thanks for writing.

    • Aragarna

      hello Joe !
      thanks a lot for your comments and your work on HBO. I’m waiting anxiously to see this last week. season 4 is possible you think ? well, if you can, please, tell HBO and Gabriel that we ALL want it and we will ALL be there next year. we can make an online petition if needed ;-)
      hope to read you next year then…

      • Thanks so much, Aragarna! We certainly will pass along your wishes to HBO. We wish the same!
        Our comments about the final episodes for Frances and Sunil are now up btw.
        Just click on the Sunil or Frances pictures at:
        We hope you enjoy them. The three of us have typically had different takes because the show is so beautifully written, it allows for multiple interpretations.
        And then, of course, there’s the superb acting by our hero, Gabriel Byrne, as well as the actors.
        Nice to correspond with you.

        • Joe, we are going to make you an honorary Byrneholic here in a minute! “Our hero” indeed. ;-)

          Looking forward to reading your last set of comments. If you are allowed to do so, and have the interest, you can always write more about In Treatment here. Just send me your stuff and I’ll post it for you. You could have a second career! :-)

          Thanks again for sharing with us.


  14. Randy Paulsen

    Hi Stella et al,
    I’d just like to echo Joe’s condolences and his comments. It is very gratifying to hear that people from as far away as Norway (my ancestral home) are appreciating the show and our humble comments. Keep up the good work. It’s important to keep up conversations that help us all learn from our human experience.


  15. Hi Joe:

    This is a phenomenal show and thanks to the three ‘talk therapists’ for adding a rich dimension to it this year.

    Please pass along my wishes for a Season 4, too. I’d like to see Paul come out of this like most of his patients – healthier and happier.

    Just curious – Have you met any of the cast and/or crew?

    • Hi, acool.

      No, we haven’t met anybody. We’re just lonely shrinks sitting at our computers writing commentary… ;-)

      (Actually, I know the psychiatric advisor from years ago.)

      Thanks for your comments on the HBO site as well.

      We’re very glad you think we’ve added a nice dimension to the show.

  16. Now I have seen all the episodes and read all the comments.
    It is heavy stuff going on in so many lives. It is so much to think about, and not so easy to write about. I really hope we will have more In Treatment. I need to know what will happen with Dr Paul Weston in the future, and I want to learn more about life and humans throught In Treatment.
    Thank you to everybody that have worked with In Treatment in some way. And Gabriel: he is just fantastic as Dr. Paul Weston!

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