You may be reading these words and questioning why such a title. If you have watched the phenom’ of the film Stutz an understanding may be arriving. I have been accused of giving the synopsis, plot twist and story of another Netflix show away before. I will try not to do so here.
Is a classically trained American Psychiatrist. I would class him as a prototypical psychotherapist. A person-centred compassionate, humour enthused doctor. Who has written his own rule book on the practice of the subtle art. Phil Stutz is amongst other things Jonah Hill’s therapist. The film I found extraordinary to watch. Mainly because of how open both men become with each other and with the film overall. We are able to watch transformation take place in as close and as intimate a setting as is possible. In a world surviving the apocalyptic effect of CoViD19 and an ongoing war in Ukraine this film is refreshing as it offers us hope.
The film treats us to a long session where Stutz and Hill engage in a pseudo psychotherapy appointment. Pseudo because some artistic licence is taken. Both men share what they have enjoyed about working with the other and on the film. There are moments of deep connection and wonderfully tricky ethical dilemmas that both men grapple with. At no point do either participant back away from the challenge of the project at hand. Both willfully engage with the task in front of them. Answering each other’s questions. Offering playful rebuttals and daring each other to think differently about what they both face.
The frank honesty and aim not to make the perfect film is the beauty of Stutz. The openness to let the messiness be present. A comparison between life and when a counsellor/psychotherapist is working with the mind, stands forward for me. A linear path to a solution or a breakthrough almost never happens in counselling work. The jewels are found amongst the rubbish. And we have to be willing to beachcomb through a lot of drift matter to find gems. We, counsellor and client, are sent into the miasma to overturn, root out and discover. Often we return with little. Sometimes when we do find something, the gem shines brighter for all of the effort.
What I enjoyed about is the simple way the film invites both men to view and work with change. I am mindful of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and the American Psychotherapy Association and what their thoughts are of Stutz. The film is brave bold and daring in what it offers viewers an insight to. The palpable enjoyment and risk are very present in what happens on set. Do these two organisations value the effort? Also of how the end product shows what working in an artistic person-centred way is like for both Stutz and Hill. I have mentioned the film to a few clients and supervisees. Most have either watched the film or since watched it, and shared that they appreciated the reflexive nature of both men. Stutz offers us a view of intimacy and vulnerability caught in colour and in monochrome. A testament to healing.
The threat with Stutz is that counselling and psychotherapy appears to be an opportunity to share the personal story of the therapist with the client. This may happen within the boundaries of supporting the client to gain an insight to their own story. With Stutz the sharing happens because Hill and Stutz, after a number of years of work – know each other. Enough to venture into spaces other counsellors do not approach. I have, when the need to personally disclose is present. Similar to an awareness of thin space. These moments are rare and demand of a counsellor to appreciate risk. The relationship between these two men is exceptional because of the presence of trust. Practicing the art of psychotherapy in an integrative client focused way is to base progression and development on the relationship that has been established between helper and helpee. Stutz offers us a wonderful perception of what is possible when psychotherapeutic work becomes transpersonal.
In my kit bag I generally use analogy to explore and interpret the information the client and I are working with. I can remember a counselling supervisor inviting me to trust what I saw. Amongst the sparks of my imagination, listening to a client defining their challenge. Determining what approach to take, or if any. Daring to offer these caught entrails in my work with clients. At times I can catch lightening. I like that Stutz uses drawings to expand on his findings. These mementos are like petit fours. Refreshing, joy filled, exploratory risk packets. With which clients can be both reminded and challenged. With my analogies clients can then either remember or forget the ideas meaning. The work I feel – is the takeaway sensation of something not easily describable. A felt sense of something having taken place, a look, a defining sentence. Like a hanging basket of potential. Determining a want for movement forward into the great big unknown. Courageously. The analogies and sketches offer client’s a philosophical understanding for living life with. Similar to the distillation of knowledge.
Similar to an archetypical character, flawed, vulnerable, resolved, struggling with their own trials and yet offering pages from their play book of how to make it to the next step along, on the journey of life. The film is a love song. Highlighting core themes of adulting, parenting and healing in a *neatish package. Perhaps the role of the psychotherapist sits across a few intersections of becoming. I recognise in Stutz and in my role as a counsellor that risk, reward and all manner of contrasts exist. Which is why the film does so well to explain how discussing topics with another, supports ideas to be transformational, ultimately. Talking leads to newer ideas – which leads to testing and then in time – realisation through action. Stutz offers both personal and professional development in a readily available manner. A link to a trailer is in last month’s blog Submarine.
Karen, an episode of Earhustle thoroughly gripped me as I drove home from Toronto. I wondered what support would have looked like had Karen been able to access it prior to the accident. What would Stutz’s drawings have helped Karen recognise about herself and how she could make use of life now in prison?
Dr. Andrew Huberman is a leader in the field of EMDR (Eye Movement De-sensitation Reprocessing) and this short video explains his understanding of why trauma gets trapped and how using EMDR can assist a client releasing embodied pain. Moving forward is a key theme in Stutz.
I trained in supervision under the wise direction of Robin Shohet’s teachings. The supervision trainer leant heavily on several core concepts from Shohet’s book ‘Supervision in the Helping Professions’. I enjoyed in the clip below how Stutz appears to embody the central theme of Shohet.
Lastly I am surprised by my arriving at the end with Kendrick and Stutz meeting. Hip hop lyricism is a form of psychotherapy. So, it is not out of the ordinary that Kendrick and Phil meet equally here on this page. Both drive change like fire.
Karen from Ear Hustle
How EMDR works by Dr. Andrew Huberman
Robin Shohet and the idea of clients healing the therapist
Father Time Kendrick Lamar ft Sampha
Image theme: Therapy
Cover Image photo by Peter Fogden on Unsplash
Not Everyone Can See photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Therapeutic Walk photo by Nicolai Dürbaum on Unsplash
Sign of Change photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash
Fire Therapy photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash
You should have spoiler alerts.
The Artist – the first time I put a name to my practice of psychotherapy.
Dilemma – But I do mean I love you, but I am not going to say it.
Beachcombing – Highlighting that what the surf offers up can be treasure filled.
Cassandra Wilson – Waters of March I couldn’t resist. Time after time the words continue offering re-interpretation. A play on a play.