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Prince Harry speaks in the ‘Therapy Speech’, so how would a therapist decode what he is really saying?
After years as a senior therapist (I did 15 before I retired), you tend to be able to spot what we call the “therapy talk” from a mile away. It tends to happen to people who have had a lot of sessions, for a very long time. They might have started all with stiff upper lips, but after enough work they end up talking like us. Judging by his latest podcast appearance, in which he spoke with American actor Dax Shepard, Prince Harry is a prime example. Some of the words and phrases he uses – the emphasis on ‘awareness’, compassion and’ lived experience ‘, how he is now’ comfortable being able to chat [his] struggle “is” to listen [his] body “and learned to” pick [his] head out of sand – could be lifted straight from one of my therapists’ rooms. I guess he’s had integrative psychotherapy, which is an eclectic style, and a fair amount of psychodynamic therapy, which will often revisit childhood experiences, will ask clients to look into their upbringing and consider if it is trauma or a lack of attention on the part of primary care providers. affected them. “For me, it’s always so fascinating to hear about someone’s struggles and then be able to track down what’s wrong with you, but what happened to you? Harry said at one point. It’s psychodynamic therapy in a nutshell. This approach is especially evident when he spoke of consciously trying to “parent” his son, Archie, in a way different from his own upbringing. He spoke of “breaking the cycle” of “pain or suffering” inherited from his father, Prince Charles, who had his own struggles as a boy. When Harry said he was “going to make me break this cycle so as not to pass it on” he mirrors the common psychodynamic method of getting clients to avoid what we call the “repetition compulsion”: repeat the traumas they themselves have endured. Humans are naturally inclined to repeat the trauma, but by consciously saying, “I recognize this, this is a pattern, and I want to get rid of it,” we can end the cycle. Obviously, Harry is actively involved in this process. Prince Harry is the product of his environment and his experiences. He was once in the royal family, in Eton, in the military, in the tabloids, but now he’s in Los Angeles, independent, and with Meghan, who certainly seems emotionally enlightened. That, along with a healthy dose of therapy that may well continue, seems to have changed him profoundly. As told to Guy Kelly Sheri Jacobson is the founder of Harley Therapy