If there’s one person Prince Harry won’t break up with, it’s his therapist.
In his new memoir Spear, the Duke of Sussex portrays his handler as one of the few people who are truly in his corner.
Harry wrote that his therapist was the first person he called after a verbal fight with his older brother, Prince William, turned physical. (William stormed into Harry’s Kensington Palace home and called Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle, “difficult,” “rude,” and “abrasive,” according to the younger prince.)
Instead of Markle, it was the therapist who the Duke of Sussex reached out to: “Thank God she answered. I apologized for the intrusion, and told her I didn’t know who I was contacting,” he writes. “I told her I had a fight with Willie, he knocked me to the floor. I looked down and told her my shirt was ripped, my necklace was broken.”
Interestingly enough, Prince William – the one who gets the lion’s share of Harry’s ire in Spear – was one of the family members who initially recommended Harry try the treatment. Years later, Harry says that William had changed his tune and once feared his younger brother might be “brainwashed” by therapy.
With the high-profile treatment seemingly playing out in the life of the Duke of Sussex, 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,” which is certainly no exaggeration: the fight between him and William may be one of the most explosive details, but Harry makes his grievances about almost everyone in the family.
He calls William his “beloved brother” and at the same time his “sworn enemy”, intending to ensure that the succession arrangement was deeply felt by his brother.
He accuses his stepmother, Camilla Parker Bowles (now the Queen Consort) of leaking stories about him and William and turning his room at Clarence House into her wardrobe once he left. (“I tried not to care. But the first time I saw her, I especially cared,” the 38-year-old Duke of Sussex wrote.)
He says his father, King Charles III, carried a “pitiful” teddy bear with him as an adult and implored his children to make peace at their grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral in 2021 (“Please, boys, don’t make an end to my years of misery,” Charles said.)
Sister-in-law Catherine, Princess of Wales, has largely been portrayed as cold and wary of Markle: the future queen made Markle cry days before the 2018 Sussex wedding (Harry shared texts to prove it) and “somber” when the “suits” the actor asked to borrow some Lip gloss on occasion. (The Duke of Sussex said of the request that it was “an American thing”).
Why tell all the truth even in the smallest detail possible? Ultimately, Harry says, this is in the interest 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 shoulder he and Markle have received from the rest of the royal family, Harry has said time and again that he hopes for a reconciliation.
“The ball is very much in their court,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview earlier this month.
He said: “Meghan and I kept saying we would publicly apologize for whatever we did wrong, but every time we ask that question, no one tells us the details or anything.” “There needs to be a constructive conversation, one that can happen in private and not be leaked.”
But is Harry’s months-long global journey in revelation really conducive to compromise and peace?
To answer that question, we took the plunge and asked for some treatment tips. Here’s what family therapists think about Harry’s experience with therapy and how his public revelations about his family align with his desire for reconciliation.
What therapists think about Harry’s treatment
Going to counseling 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, especially EDMR, a type of therapy that involves making eye movements along with remembering a traumatic event. or memory.
He said the therapy helped him process the grief and anger he felt after the loss of his mother, Princess Diana, and strengthened his relationship with Markle. (He resumed therapy at his wife’s urging after becoming “unwaveringly angry” with her during a “tough” fight, he writes.)
“The therapy has prepared me to be able to endure anything,” he said. “I knew that if I didn’t go through therapy and fix myself, I was going to lose this woman I could see myself spending the rest of my life with.”
Becky Whetstone, marriage and family therapist and host of the “Call Your Mother” YouTube channel, believes the counseling has served Harry well.
“I’ve seen his interviews and listened to his book, and the way Harry talks about his life is thoughtful and obviously addressed in healthy ways,” she told HuffPost.
Although Harry’s endless confessions have angered the palace and some of the public, Whetstone sees nothing wrong with his behavior.
“I don’t see Harry settling the score, but as he tells his version of his story, for better or worse, take it or leave it,” she said. “I think when the family is down, the only way to change the system is to change it, to do something different maybe radically.”
The resulting crisis, Wheatstone added, “might push the family to confront its problems.” “As a therapist, Harry’s story resonates with me. It’s believable.”
Sarah Spencer Northey, a family and marriage therapist in Washington, D.C., said the Sussexes leaving the royal family made some sense if they were in therapy.
“I think therapy should not be in the service of helping people adjust to a life they find oppressive,” she told HuffPost. “It was a huge step away from the system Harry was raised in and a healing one given how much damage the system had caused on a deeply personal level.”
Is reconciliation with the royal family possible?
Northey said that if family members are still supporting and enabling systems that harm you, there’s not much you can do in terms of a full reconciliation.
Rona Raskin, family therapist and advice columnist, is also not sure if a family rapprochement is possible, given the public nature of Harry’s complaints.
“This scenario is very difficult to undo,” she said. “There are crowds of people who support Harry’s point of view, who are on his side, and other crowds who boo him on the other side. It is now a complex problem that a committee of millions is looking to solve.”
Unlike other therapists interviewed for this article, Raskin has questions about the Duke of Sussex’s therapist and whether he is overly dependent on her counseling.
“A therapist is not an attache or a nanny – you shouldn’t have one on speed dial to get constant advice every time a problem arises,” she said. “The therapist’s job is to get the client to get rid of it.”
If the counselor does his or her job, therapy helps clients discover strengths and patterns as well as learn about new coping skills for any new drama that lies ahead.
“The therapist’s first job is to provide security,” she said. “I don’t think there is any safety for anyone in this royal laundry broadcast.”
San Diego marriage and family therapist Jennifer Chappelle March believes it is possible for the royal family to make things right, but that Harry and Meghan must be flexible in their expectations of reconciliation.
“There are different forms of reconciliation,” she said. “An ideal reconciliation occurs when the injured party can clearly state their experience of pain, and that pain is heard, validated, and actionable repair undertaken.”
Sometimes, though, “reconciliation means accepting that true reform is not possible and therefore you can love from a distance.”
Whatever the case, it’s understandable why audiences are so deeply invested in the complex family drama of the British royal family and Harry’s current campaign to tell the truth. (Since its release on Tuesday, Spear has become the fastest-selling non-fiction book of all time.)
“Many aspects of Spear can be relatable to many people,” said Meg Arroll, psychologist and author of Small Traumas. “There is an element of sibling rivalry (physical altercation with a brother), betrayal and trauma with multiple family members, and moral damage. (guilt about his silence over his father’s affair) and undermining as the lesser member of the family.”
Arroll also understands why some find “tell it all” unproductive and a little “woe to me” coming from Prince.
“I think what people find difficult is the sense that the Harry franchise should somehow negate these emotional wounds, but that’s not the case, and it’s not a compassionate position,” she said. “He is a human, after all.”