With Monday's premiere of Bravo's latest reality show, L.A. Shrinks, America got to meet three California-based therapists who seem to have just as much personal baggage as their patients. Of course the wacky blondes will be lots of fun, but we were most interested in Dr. Greg and his openness about his "monogamish" relationship with Kevin, his partner of 23 years.
Curious what it means applying the Bravo reality treatment to a personal, introspective, therapeutic process (I mean, this is NOT a million-dollar listing), I spoke to him about why he decided to be on the show, what he hopes the impact will be, and that soon-to-be-infamous farting segment from the first episode.
Out: I was really impressed that you spoke so openly about your relationship and the fact that it's "open" to some extent. It seems we'll see many intense relationship situations between the two of you.
I didn't really want or plan to be that open about my life, but the producers asked me questions and I wasn't secretive about it. I do think it's important for heterosexual couples to see that there are many different ways to make a relationship work and there's not just one way it should look. It's not like we're wildly behaving in a particular way. I'm open about it with my patients if they ask, or it's something that will relate to an issue they want to discuss. I think it can make people feel less alone. Of course, it is a longtime relationship and it's constant work, which is something you must value in any relationship.
I'm calling you from New York City, where we have a very entrenched culture of talk therapy, do you think there's a fundamental difference between East Coast vs. West Coast therapy?
I studed in the Upper East Side in New York, so I know what it's like. Therapists have more in common than differences. I think patients have different issues in different regions: people in the Bible Belt may worry about family and religion; New York is about jobs and stress; and in L.A. it's wealthy, beauty, and youth. But ultimately we're all human beings.
And how did you get these patients, it seems strange that they would want to "perform" their problems on-camera.
Bravo and the producers found them. It would be unethical to involve patients from my own practice in a television show. So they are new patients for me.
Now, what about that scene when you explain how sometimes a therapist may want to fart but can't leave the room and so has to be uncomfortable. Don't you think your friends are going to never let you live that down?
I didn't even remember saying it. We filmed that in our home, and it was like 101 degrees, with no air conditioning. We started talking about what it's like being a therapist and that people don't think we have real needs. If you're stomach is upset, the only time you have to do any personal things are in-between patients.
But don't you think some of your colleagues and peers are going to hate the way therapists are portrayed on the show? And what about your patients?
I think it's an American culture thing: people think they can do it all alone. But it's a basic human need to seek help from other people. Therapists are a judgmental batch. I hate to say it, but those bitches will be talking about us behind our backs, as well as our fronts. I am worried about how my patients will react. I've already lost some when I told them the show was coming up and they didn't want a therapist who was on TV. My reputation may change, but I tell my friends and patients to live "full throttle lives," so I hope if they see that I'm willing to go out on a limb, to put it out there, I will be a model for others.
Watch a clip of Dr. Greg and Kevin below: