Ever feel like therapy is just too private? Now you can go to a "shrink party" and get your head examined in front of all of your friends. Kind of like a Botox party, but more fucked up.
Carol Sarler of the Daily Mail explains that said parties are women-only gatherings where "the hosts provide the wine, the nibbles and a psychologist, while your contribution is a bunch of your personal problems to be shared with the group." Sarler goes on to critique the supposed tradition of the female overshare with Liz-Jonesian disdain — but we're still stuck on the idea of going to a therapy party with your friends. Isn't part of the point of therapy that it's confidential?
I'm not a particular fan of Sarler's stiff-upper-lip philosophy: "the old, but smart, Irish expression that you'd feel better if you'd cheer up." I've been known to pour out my heart to friends and listen to them do so in return, and though experts these days warn us about co-rumination, I generally find that these talks make me feel better. But! If I'm going to a therapist it probably means I have problems I don't want to burden or freak out my friends with, and I certainly don't want them there in the room when I let out all my demons.
In addition to the weird privacy issues involved, shrink parties just seem like another step in the weird commodification of therapy. It reminds me of the shrinks who "don't treat" stars but who cheerfully give opinions on them in Us Weekly — mental health advice is now something you can buy at the supermarket and, apparently, get with your glass of wine at a party. One sad thing about this is that actual one-on-one therapy is so prohibitively expensive for so many people in this country that self-help books, tabloids, the ubiquitous Dr. Drew, and now shrink parties (should they make the jump across the pond) might be the best they can do. Another sad thing: as bullshit forms of therapy become more prevalent, they may well spread the already too popular notion that all therapy is bullshit, that health insurance shouldn't cover it, and that people with mental health problems should just take vitamins and go for a walk or something. That notion is incredibly damaging for people with real psychiatric issues. So let's keep therapy private and keep parties the way they're supposed to be — fun.