“Necessary Roughness”: The Shrink Who’s Also a Client

Dani is feeling a little lost after everything that has happened, and a lot has happened, and so she decides to go to one of her old professors, Dr. Al Gunner. That’s right, the shrink is getting shrinked! Allison Nichols, Examiner, “‘Necessary Roughness’ Sends Dani To Therapy”

Why did the above recent report catch my attention, you might wonder? Was it because of Necessary Roughness, the name of a TV show I only vaguely recognized—and which only makes me think of violence that’s probably not at all in fact necessary?

Or was it this: “…(T)he shrink is getting shrinked!” As this is basically the premise of my novel Minding Therapy. And who knew a show called Necessary Roughness could have anything to do with shrinkage to begin with?

According to IMDB, here’s what Necessary Roughness, which premiered on the USA station in 2011, is actually about:

A Long Island psychotherapist whose personal life unravels when she finds her husband cheating. Diving fully into her work, Dr. Dani Santino soon finds herself as the most sought-after therapist for high-profile clients. Athletes, entertainers, politicians and others living in the spotlight clamor for her unique brand of tough love therapy during their moments of crisis. Although her career is reenergized, it wreaks havoc on her life as a newly minted single mom of two teenagers.

The new therapist, Dr. Gunner, is played by Peter MacNicol. TV Guide calls him “Dani’s eccentric Downton Abbey-loving mentor and shrink” who’s “(b)rash, forward and aggressive…”

About Dani The New York Times has said, “It’s a credit to Ms. Thorne that her portrayal of a sassy Italian-American therapist could, but doesn’t, echo Lorraine Bracco’s performance as Dr. Jennifer Melfi on ‘The Sopranos.’”

Before falling into treating such high-profile clients as pro football players, her specialization was “behavioral management, hypnotherapy, smoking cessation and weight loss programs,” according to an article last year by Marc SiegelLos Angeles Times.

The show’s website proudly shows off its therapy theme with at least a couple relevant features—under the heading of “Games.” One is on therapy jargon and another “helps” you figure out what kind of therapy is right for you. (Not to be taken too seriously, they do note.)

I take a peek at “Jargon,” and the very first entry-with-definition is news to me. “Additive responses” are “therapists’ verbal responses that help a client understand a situation, such as ‘and that frustrates you.'” I’ll just add, this frustrates me. Shouldn’t I already know all the lingo?

Others I didn’t know:

  • door in the face technique: a counseling technique in which a therapist asks a client to do a seemingly impossible task, followed by a request to perform a more reasonable task.
  • foreclosure: when a person develops an identity by accepting the ideas and opinions of others, rather than through personal exploration.
  • low facilitative responses: minimally helpful therapist responses, which can include advising, interpreting and reassuring.
  • minimal encouragers: brief supportive statements that convey attention and understanding (e.g., “I see,” “I hear you,” “Okay,” and “Hmm”).


Next, what kind of therapy is right for me? After fielding some difficult-to-understand-much-less-answer questions, the type of therapy prescribed for me actually seems reasonable—I’d even say rational: Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.

Their description: “A type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Dr. Dani’s preferred form of treatment), REBT isn’t just about talking; it’s about learning how to address irrational thought and dysfunctional behavior.”

For real, REBT, created by Albert Ellis, has been around since the 1950’s. As it’s already integrated somewhat into my own therapy style, I really can’t argue with the game’s conclusion.

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