Yes, "Dr. Paul Weston" is back in the second season of "IN TREATMENT," ON HBO.

I love this show, for the obvious reason, of course, that it's about the inner workings of therapy, but moreso, because the therapy practiced here is by a passionate and conflicted therapist, portrayed superbly by Gabriel Byrne. The show is very well-done in every aspect, really, finely acted, unusually penetrating content, raw and honest in its look into the very private and perhaps too secretive world of psychotherapy. But thanks to this series, the secret's out.

Byrne plays "Paul" - a 53-year old psychologist, recently divorced, father of two - somewhat close to the vest, but not so close that you can't see his heart. In fact, sometimes that heart is right out on his sleeve. He makes mistakes, goes out on a limb, and is given to emotional outbursts. And although he seems to subscribe to mainstream medical thinking at times, he never seems to prescribe medication for anyone, but rather rolls up his sleeves and digs into his patients' inner lives. I love that. Paul is a genuine healer, wounds and all.

On the flip side, and to be fair, I find Paul to be a bit "inexperienced" for a 53-year old shrink, in that he is too easily thrown by the maneuvers, feelings and transferences of his patients. It implies to me that he hasn't had enough therapy himself, and/or that he is not getting enough now, though in one of last night's episodes, he asks his supervisor, "Gina," coyly played by Dianne Wiest, if she will see him for treatment. Good. He needs it!

A powerful moment for me last night, in the last episode of the evening (there are two on Sunday evening, three on Monday), came when Paul expressed his emotional fatigue and feelings of isolation in his work. I really related to that. A therapist who really joins with his patients in a truly collaborative way is absorbing a lot of tumultuous energy that has to be felt and moved through continuously. That requires that the therapist be an open channel, which requires that the therapist be ever-vigilant and self-aware when it comes to his or her own issues and emotional weak spots, which requires that the therapist be a willing participant in the ongoing deconstructing of his or her ego. And it's why therapists need a lot of time off!

I guess that's what I love about this profession, even though I also hate many aspects of "The Profession," that in order to be good at one's work as a therapist, one has to do what is good for one's health and happiness in all aspects of life. You can't be facilitating the healing of others if you're not healing yourself. Otherwise, you're just analyzing, and any shrink can do that.

So, carry on, Paul. You are doing your calling justice. Just one suggestion, now that you're going to be in treatment - work on the guilt. It's a killer.

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