If there’s one person Prince Harry won’t sever ties with, it’s his therapist.
In his tell-all new memoir, ‘Spare’, the Duke of Sussex describes his therapist as one of the few people truly in his corner.
Harry writes that his therapist was the first person he called after a verbal argument with his older brother Prince William turned physical. (William had broken into Harry’s house at Kensington Palace and called Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle, “difficult”, “rude” and “abrasive”, according to the young prince.)
Instead of Markle, it was the therapist the Duke of Sussex contacted: ‘Thank goodness she answered. I apologized for the intrusion, told her I didn’t know who else to call’ “I told him I had a fight with Willy, he threw me to the ground. I looked down and told him my shirt was torn, my collar was broken.”
Interestingly, Prince William ― the person who receives the lion’s share of Harry’s wrath in “Spare” ― was the family member who originally recommended Harry try therapy. Years later, Harry says William has changed his mind and once feared his younger brother was being ‘brainwashed’ by the therapy.
Given the importance therapy seems to play in the Duke of Sussex’s life, it’s easy to wonder if his sessions fueled his need to share his ‘truth’ about the Royal Family.
According to his description, the book is written with “raw, unflinching honesty”, and that’s certainly no exaggeration: the fight between him and William is perhaps one of the most explosive details, but Harry expresses his grievances about almost everyone in the family. .
He calls William his “beloved brother” and simultaneously his “sworn enemy”, determined to ensure that the order of succession is deeply felt by his brother growing up.
He accuses his stepmother, Camilla Parker Bowles (now the Queen Consort) of leaking stories about him and William and of turning his bedroom at Clarence House into his closet as soon as he moved out. (“I tried not to care. But especially the first time I saw it, I cared,” the 38-year-old Duke of Sussex wrote.)
His father, King Charles III, he says, carried a “pitiful” teddy bear with him as an adult and begged his sons to reconcile at their grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral in 2021 (“ Please, boys, don’t make my final years a misery,” Charles reportedly said.)
Sister-in-law Catherine, Princess of Wales is widely portrayed as cold and suspicious of Markle: The future queen made Markle cry days before the Sussexes’ 2018 wedding (Harry shares texts to prove it) and ‘grimaced’ when the “Suits” actor asked to borrow lip gloss at an event. (It was an “American thing,” the Duke of Sussex says of the request.)
Why tell the whole truth, even in the smallest possible details? Harry says it’s ultimately in the interests of peace and holding people “accountable”.
“I don’t think we can ever have peace with my family unless the truth is out there,” the Duke of Sussex told ABC’s Michael Strahan.
Despite the cold reception he and Markle received from the rest of the royal family, Harry has repeatedly said he hopes for a reconciliation.
“The ball is really in their court,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview earlier this month.
“Meghan and I have continued to say that we will openly apologize for anything that we have done wrong, but every time we ask that question no one tells us the details or anything,” he said. declared. “There has to be a constructive conversation, a conversation that can take place in private and that is not leaked.”
But is Harry’s months-long world reveal tour really conducive to compromise and peace?
To answer this question, we followed the prince’s example and asked for therapeutic advice. Here’s what family therapists think about Harry’s experience with therapy and how his very public revelations about his family align with his desire for reconciliation.
What therapists think of Harry’s therapy
Going to council has clearly been a haven for Harry since he and Markle stepped down from their roles as senior members of the Royal Family in January 2020.
In 2021, the Duke of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey that he had been in therapy for about five years and spoke positively about his experience, in particular about EDMR, a type of therapy that involves making lateral eye movements while recalling a traumatic incident. or memory.
The therapy helped him deal with the grief and anger he felt over the loss of his mother, Princess Diana, he said, and strengthened his relationship with Markle. (He started therapy again at his wife’s request after he got “angry” with her in a “cruel” fight, he wrote.)
“The therapy equipped me to be able to take on anything,” he said. “I knew that if I didn’t go to therapy and make it right, I was going to lose this woman I saw myself spending the rest of my life with.”
Becky Whetstone, a marriage and family therapist and host of the ‘Call Your Mother’ YouTube channel, thinks the advice has served Harry well.
“I’ve seen his interviews and listen to his book, and the way Harry talks about his life is thoughtful and obviously handled in a healthy way,” she told HuffPost.
Although Harry’s seemingly endless admissions have annoyed both the palace and some of the public, Whetstone doesn’t particularly see anything wrong with his behavior.
“I don’t see Harry as a settling of scores but as him telling his side of his story, for better or for worse, take it or leave it,” she said. “I believe when a family is dysfunctional, the only way to change the system is to shake it up, do something different that is maybe radical.”
The resulting crisis “can motivate a family to deal with their issues,” Whetstone added. “As a therapist, Harry’s story resonates with me. It’s believable.
Sarah Spencer Northey, a marriage and family therapist in Washington, DC, said the Sussexes’ departure from the royal family made a lot of sense if they were in therapy.
“I believe that therapy should never be used to help people adjust to a life they find oppressive,” she told HuffPost. “It was a big step away from the system Harry was raised in and a therapeutic move given the damage the system has done on a deep and personal level.”
Is a reconciliation of the royal family possible?
If family members are still supporting and activating the systems that harm you, there’s not much more you can do in terms of full reconciliation, Northey said.
Rhona Raskin, a family therapist and advice columnist, is also unsure whether a family reunification is possible, given the public nature of Harry’s complaints.
“That scenario is very difficult to undo,” she said. “There are crowds of people supporting Harry’s point of view, taking his side, and other crowds booing him on the other side. It is now a complex problem waiting to be solved by a committee of millions.
Unlike the other therapists interviewed in this article, Raskin has questions about the Duke of Sussex’s therapist and whether he relies too much on his advice.
“A therapist is not a prop or a nanny – you shouldn’t have one on a speed dial for ongoing counseling whenever there’s a problem,” she said. “A therapist’s job is to get the client to let go of them.”
If the counselor has done their job, therapy helps clients discover their strengths and patterns and recognize new coping skills in the face of any new drama that awaits them.
“The therapist’s first job is to provide safety,” she said. “I don’t think there is any safety for anyone in this royal laundry broadcast.”
Jennifer Chappell Marsh, a marriage and family therapist in San Diego, thinks it’s possible for the royals to fix things, but that Harry and Meghan need to be flexible with their reconciliation expectations.
“There are different forms of reconciliation,” she said. “The ideal reconciliation occurs when an aggrieved party can clearly name their pain experience, have that pain heard, validated, and workable repair undertaken.”
Sometimes, however, “reconciliation means accepting that true healing is not possible and that in return you can love from a distance.”
Whichever way it plays out, it’s understandable that audiences are so deeply invested in the knotty family drama of the British royal family and Harry’s ongoing truth campaign. (Since its release on Tuesday, “Spare” has become the best-selling nonfiction book of all time.)
“Many aspects of ‘Spare’ are relatable to many people,” said Meg Arroll, psychologist and author of “Tiny Traumas.” “There’s the element of sibling rivalry (the physical altercation with a brother), the betrayal and trauma with various family members, the moral hurt (guilt around his silence on his father’s affair) and being undermined as an inferior member of the family.”
Arroll also understands why some find the reveal unproductive and a little “woe betide me,” coming from a prince.
“I think what people find difficult is the feeling that Harry’s privilege should somehow undo those emotional wounds, but that’s not the case, nor a compassionate attitude to have,” he said. she declared. “He is human, after all.”