On day one I had no idea what to expect. All of the other TV work I have done has been on an actual set. The expert is never scripted so that was the same but the unpredictability of being with a family in crisis while being filmed required a totally different skill set…and produced an intense experience because it was all real.
On the morning of day one we shot my reaction to footage of the family. None of this footage is in the final edit. The crew was shooting the family for three days before I even got to the location. So in this clip I am bright eyed and totally clueless as to what I am walking into…
Day 1 Recap
Before we get to the house and see the family they shoot me driving down the road and entering the house. This footage is not in the final edit. The house is enormous and I am apprehensive to meet the family because the footage I have seen is them at their very worst.
They are nice and seem relieved that I have arrived. (Only increasing the pressure I am feeling.) We are filming them interacting the way they normally would, which is loud and angry. We film for many hours and I can immediately see that the tension between the husband, Scott and his mother in law, Susan is all stemming from unresolved issues between mother and daughter, Kristin.
They each have their own dysfunctional way of communicating but I sense that the daughter, Kristin will be the hardest to handle because she is the most defended. Her story is that it is all her mother hating her husband and she is in the middle. She is pulling all of the strings and is 8 months pregnant. She is not going to like my assessment.
At the end of 12 hours of filming, observing and talking I am exhausted. I stay up late writing my therapeutic notes in layman’s terms, viable course of action and thoughts of illustrative interventions. I wonder if what I am trying to accomplish is even possible. I write my nightly crew email of intention and inspiration for the next days shoot, meditate and fall into bed. I sleep like crap.
The heat is killing me. At lunch, I sit in the van with the AC blasting on me and meditate while the crew eats. Today, mid meditation the producer knocked on the window to tell me what a good job I was doing…and that the family was responding much faster than they anticipated, creating a story arc issue. She said not to change what I was doing, we would be adjusting according to the family.
Now I am confused and not sure how to un impact the story line arc thing and still do what I do. I decide to trust her, the process and what I know and stay the course.
By this point in the process I have spent many hours with the family together and separately. All of their histories are tragic and yet their resiliency and desire to do it better for their unborn baby, creates hope. I am totally invested in their healing. I can not and do not think about story arcs or anything other than the limited time I have left with them and what still needs to happen. I am doing my job, they can figure out the rest in the edit.
I am already looking up local therapists for follow up care. One thing I know for sure is that although we have done amazing work in a short time, most won’t stick without an on going therapeutic relationship.
I also realize that the most important day of filming is tomorrow and I am emotionally and physically exhausted. I forgot how arduous family work is and remember why I stopped doing it in my private practice…
Final Day of Shooting – Yay!
According to the producer, the last day of shooting is the most important, either the magic will happens and it all comes together or it won’t and it all falls apart.
(Thanks for that tidbit of anxiety provoking inspiration!)
The final location, a pre school classroom, was a symbolic reminder to keep the focus on their shared love for Corbin. The hope was to inspire heart driven words and responses instead of ego driven reactions from the past. Kristin was going to reveal her decision to either cut Susan off or allow her to be a part of Corbin’s life. I did not know what she had decided but was hoping Susan would get the opportunity to create a healthy bond with Corbin, continuing to heal her relationship with Kristin in the process.
I heard through the crew grapevine that after they left the house, Susan had a breakdown. I was thrilled to learn that Scott was the one who comforted her. This is transformation.
TV therapy bootcamp has taken its toll on me as well. I miss the comfort of my husband, my bed, Zumba and my life. Fear-based questions with no answers are looping in my mind. Will I ask the right questions? Can I motivate change without manipulating the outcome? Will the right and perfect words come?
This is no longer about a show. These are real people who have put their trust in me.
This lead to my own little breakdown right before the family is scheduled to arrive on set. I called Vic from the bathroom and the second I heard his voice, burst into tears. He starts shooting questions, ”Ter, are you CRYING?? What is wrong? Did something terrible happen?? Why aren’t you saying anything??”
Um…cuz I am crying!
Vic reassured me, I pulled it together, reapplied my make up and walked onto the set.
Cameras rolled and everything flowed with ease and grace. At the end of two hours of intense work, there was not a dry eye on the set. The magic we witnessed had nothing to do with cameras or perfect words.
Transformation can happen in the most unlikely circumstance if love and motivation are present.
WARNING Don’t try this at home! In real life an hour a week is the way to go.