While we’re proud that mental health awareness has been on a rise the past couple of years, we must first unlearn the misconceptions we were taught through the media. Movies and series are considered to be one of the most common mediums that affect society’s perspective and knowledge; therefore, we must look further into their sources to make sure we’re getting the correct information. Therapy is conducted by licensed mental health professionals that are obliged to abide by the ethical principles and a code of conduct.
Here are 4 Egyptian movies misrepresenting therapy/ therapists:
1. Hob El Banat (2004)
With no doubt, Hob El Banat was every millennial Egyptian girl’s favorite rom-com growing up. To this day we have all its scenes memorized by heart and use them as a reference to crack jokes and puns. But what we have overlooked is how unethical therapy was represented in the movie. Dr. Moheeb was the sweet therapist next door that Ghada, Nada and Rouka confided in. Their relationship then evolves to a personal one, and the cherry on top was the romantic ending where Dr. Moheeb and Rouka developed a romantic relationship, which is extremely unethical.
2. Keda Reda (2007)
A movie that kept us all on the edge of our seats, with mind-blowing plot twists and the perfect blend of drama, romance and comedy. Reda and Nadia were both patients of Dr. Sulieman who showed them great empathy and support; but little did they know that he, a devil in disguise, was taking advantage of both of them and conned them into stealing their money; which isn’t only unethical, but also a crime.
3. Asef Ala Al Ez'aag (2008)
Starring the comedy mogul, Ahmed Helmy, Hassan lost his father and was in the denial stage that escalated to developing symptoms of schizophrenia: having visual hallucinations of his late father and a lover. And since Egyptian mamas know best, his mom hired an “undercover therapist” to disguise as a family friend to diagnose and treat her son. Which is once again, unethical!
4. 60 De'ee'a (2021)
We’ve seen how a lot of series have been taking the mysterious/thriller turn the past couple of years as a result of the genre’s popularity rise. The plot roams around how Yasmine is out seeking revenge on her husband, Dr. Adham, who happens to be a therapist. Although 60 De’ee’a was on top of the watching list of many and we can’t deny how its scenes got us all worked up, we’ve watched enough series/movies portraying therapists as psychopaths. On top of that, Dr. Adham, the said therapist, was sought out revenge from his wife after she figured out about his sexual assault attempts on several women, including one victim that ended her life because of him. Besides the fact that his actions defy all human morality, it definitely doesn’t align with the code of conduct every therapist is obliged to abide by.
Our ideas surrounding therapy shouldn’t be based solely on what we see in the media and it's important to be aware of the myths and facts. The movies and series we’ve discussed misrepresented therapy in regards to three main aspects:
A. Therapeutic Relationship
Movies often portray therapists as engaging in close or even romantic relationships with their clients. This is considered unethical in the official code of conduct. Therapists do form a relationship with clients that is built on having good rapport, open communication, feeling supported, being nonjudgmental, and trusting that the therapist will maintain confidentiality. This relationship, however, cannot cross certain boundaries that could affect the therapy process.
B. Informed Consent
In movies, such as Asef Al Ezaag (2008), therapists are portrayed as hiding their profession and conducting therapeutic processes with a client without their knowledge or consent. Meanwhile, the code of conduct requires therapists to be fully transparent with their clients regarding several aspects such as the nature and anticipated course of therapy, fees required, involvement of third parties if applicable, and the limits of confidentiality. Therapists should also provide the client with the opportunity to ask any questions regarding the therapy process or questions about the therapist’s credentials.
C. Beneficence and Nonmaleficence
At times, movies should therapists as being evil or having bad intentions in regard to their clients. Therapists, however, are required to help the people they work with while avoiding any harm that could be caused. They should also be keen on protecting the welfare and rights of those they interact with.
A Word from O7 Therapy
If we all share one trait, it would be the guilty pleasure of binge watching our favorite movies; but it wouldn’t harm us to have a deeper perspective and select where we acquire our knowledge from.
Especially since therapy in movies is widely misrepresented and follows a certain stereotype that doesn’t accurately show how it works in real life. It's important to be aware of your rights as a client and the nature of the therapy process as these are not usually discussed in the media.