Some of those interactions are now more distanced. In a nod to the changes in therapy that the pandemic has wrought, this season shows Brooke meeting with Eladio by videoconference. That detail excited Dorian Traube, a professor of social work at the University of California who studies telemedicine.
“I love that they’re doing telehealth,” she said. “Because it’s realistic, right? It is what the vast majority of people who are getting care right now are using.”
The changes to the therapeutic model of “In Treatment” run deeper than available technology. By focusing on a Black clinician and guaranteeing a diverse client roster, this version of the series has a crusading aspect, a desire to reduce the stigma attached to mental health care that persists within some communities of color.
Allen felt that stigma growing up on Chicago’s South Side. If you needed therapy, the conventional wisdom ran, that meant you were crazy. “So I feel like if one person looks at this show and goes, ‘Oh, OK, you don’t have to be in a straitjacket to have therapy,’ then our job is done,” he said.
Brooke may have her own struggles, but she has an almost preternatural ability to understand her patients. Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble, a clinical psychologist who studies mental health disparities, is eager to see a depiction of a maximally effective Black clinician. She thinks it will have an encouraging effect on people of color seeking care. “If we can see it, we can believe it,” she said.
Ramos (“Hamilton,” “In the Heights,” “She’s Gotta Have It”) believes it. Two years ago, after experiencing what he described as “the lowest of low moments,” he began going to therapy twice a week. It helped, and continues to help. The show, which Ramos calls “a gift from God,” lets him show others what successful treatment, like the treatment he experienced, can look like.
“I hope when people watch it, they can feel, like, this comfort,” he said. “Hopefully people can have the courage to say, ‘Maybe I’ll look for a therapist and see what that’s about.’”