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Dr. Orna Guralnik On Showtime's 'Couples Therapy: The COVID Special': 'We Put The Intimacy, Dignity, Struggle Of Human Life On Screen'

(CBS Local)-- On Sunday, December 13, Dr. Orna Guralnik is back on Showtime for a brand new iteration of "Couples Therapy." After a successful first season in 2019, the clinical psychologist returns with "Couples Therapy: The COVID Special" where Dr. Guralnik works with couples old and new on their marriages through Zoom.


Just like everyone else, Dr. Guralnik had to change the way she worked and interacted with her patients and she learned many new things about herself and her patients by doing Zoom therapy sessions with them at home.

"The special was not the plan. We started filming season two, which was a very interesting beginning of intensive work with the couples," said Dr. Guralnik, in an interview with CBS Local's DJ Sixsmith. "A few weeks into filming life was normal and suddenly the pandemic hit. Suddenly, it was lockdown and we had to change everything. We changed what we were doing with the show. We went back to a few couples we worked with in season one and went to a few new couples and that's how it came about."

While every couple worked through their own set of issues, the participants in the Showtime special had the added layer of having no escape from these conversations because they were going on at home on Zoom.

"There have been a bunch of pretty intense challenges. One thing is actually the challenge of the pandemic. People are losing jobs or jobs are changing and there is a lot anxiety and uncertainty to living," said Dr. Guralnik. "Things like where is the money coming from and are we going to be able to live in the same place. People have moved a lot and people have died. The proximity to death has been very challenging and evoked very different responses in different people. This has brought up a new source of tension with couples."

Dr. Guralnik also says that people respond differently when they are anxious. Some people need space and others need extra love and attention. One of the other interesting wrinkles to doing this special virtually was for participants to see Dr. Guralnik's home, kids and pets and for her to see how her couples live.

"Because of the lockdown, couples are forced into this no exit situation," said Dr. Guralnik. "Typically when things get tough, people like to take a break. They like to avoid whatever is causing them discomfort. The one thing couples like to do is have a big fight so they can walk away or go to work or avoid situations of discomfort. This lockdown has forced a certain kind of no exit, which turns on the heat and create artificial stressors by being together all the time. It can also be a positive thing because you are called to be present and figure it out. There's no more postponing it or dropping it. You have to deal."

Watch all of DJ Sixsmith's interviews from "The Sit-Down" series here.

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