On The Couch
Saturday's Mail, agony aunt Virginia Ironside triggered a fierce debate
when she condemned therapy as a fraud. She wrote that having spent £54,000
on different therapist over many years, almost nothing had alleviated her
depression. So is she right that the thousands of Britons who spend millions
on counselling every year are wasting their money? Here, four celebrities
who have been through therapy give their own trenchant opinions on both
sides of the debate.
Toyah Willcox, 47, has had a long-distance marriage with guitarist Robert
Fripp, 59, for 19 years. His playboy past drove her to a therapist, but
it failed to help. In their unusual relationship, she lives in a 17th-century
manor house in Worcestershire while he is based thousands of miles away
in the US. They have no children. She is currently rehearsing to appear
in a pantomime in Milton Keynes.
to the same conclusion as Virginia Ironside after seeking help for the
deep-rooted jealousy I experienced about my husband's past.
I met Robert, I had only had two serious relationships, whereas he was
a bachelor who had famously been quoted as saying he'd slept with seven
women a day when he was touring in the seventies.
we announced our marriage and I moved in with him, I found his phone never
stopped ringing, even in the middle of the night, with old girlfriends
calling him up. They typically asked if he fancied one last fling, or whether
he was doing the right thing getting married.
Robert loved me and was finally, at the age of 40, ready to settle down,
but I got so upset about it I ended up in tears.
Robert how I felt and he reassured me and suggested I talk through my anxieties
with a psychotherapist he recommended.
thinking it would help curb my feelings of distrust for Robert, which were
making me aggressive towards him. The therapist, a man at least a decade
older than me, only asked for a small voluntary payment of £15.
let me talk about my concerns, but then suggested it was unnatural for
a woman to be so possessive of her man. He even tried to make me belive
that should my husband stray, I would be to blame.
was a very successful, respected therapist and had I been a more vulnerable
or fragile person, I might have listened to him. Instead, after my second
session, I just felt belligerent. The therapist again tried to tell me
that my instincts were wrong, and even had the audacity to ask me what
was wrong with infidelity.
became very clear he condoned extra-marital relationships, and I actually
felt I was being primed to be a stay-at-home wife who should turn a blind
eye to any infidelities. The therapist was following his own agenda, not
mine, and his behaviour was remarkably dangerous. I don't like to think
what might happen if he gets hold of a weaker character.
I stopped our sessions there and then. Later, I doscovered he'd had an
affair with at least one of his female patients, so my instincts had been
and I did survive because we spent a few days seeing an American relationship
counsellor together, who talked common sense and made us realise that we
both had to acknowledge each other's history and move on together, which
we have done very happily.
kind of positive help can be useful. It's the counselling which makes you
feel worse about yourself which is so damaging.
to Alec kelly