Lately I’ve had several search terms leading to my site that have inquired “would experiential therapy work for the Kardashians?” My first thought was: I thought that’s what Kim’s sex tape did.
This referral presumably led to my site because I referenced the Kardashians in a recent post on the Olympics. When I saw the search term, which reappeared over the course of a few days, I began to wonder: who is sitting around hand-wringing about the state of the Kardashians’ mental health? Or is it the Kardashians themselves who are considering bringing a therapist on to the show to help Kris and Bruce with their marital “problems” which may or may not be real?
Experiential therapy is different from traditional therapy in that it emphasizes actions in the here-and-now over insight-driven talk therapy. Experiential therapy encompasses just about any action-oriented experience: equine therapy, group games, family sculpting, even an intervention as simple as asking family members in a therapy session to change seating arrangements.
Wilderness camps, such as the one my son went to, are almost entirely experiential therapy, as kids learn to build competency from living in the wilderness: lighting a fire, cooking their own meals, setting up camp, hiking, etc.
Personally, I think it would be a riot to send the Kardashians to wilderness camp. Imagine them all, awoken at 3 a.m. by burly escorts who haul them onto a plane — where they must sit in coach! — and plop them down in an endless, sun-baked terrain of sage brush and juniper?
Think of Kim et al sans Juicy Couture, forced to wear khakis and Hanes t-shirts, their pedicures ruined by dust and grime!
The melt-downs when they discover that, no, they may not bring their personal chef and must instead mix malt-o-meal and water in a plastic bag, and no, we do not break for mid-afternoon mojitos!
The tantrums when they learn that they will be sleeping in hammocks instead of their 600-thread-count Frette sheets!
When Kim sobs and cannot take another step after discovering a blister!
When Kourtney’s nefarious babydaddy Scott goes AWOL through the sage brush only to be carted back by field staff!
When Kris throws a hissy-fit because she wants to change therapists, only to be told she can’t, and gets so riled up she must be restrained on the ground!
When the whole lot of them engage in a sit-down strike because they can shower only once a week and to further rub salt in the wound, must suffer bad hair days because they were not allowed to bring their flat-irons!
Now that I’ve explored this scenario, I think it’s pretty fabulous. It could be a whole new direction for the show, sort of like when the Bradys went to Hawaii.
But would experiential therapy “work” for the Kardashians, and what would they look like if it did? Do we really want to see Kardashians who have individuated, instead of mushed together in one giant ego mass? Or Kardashians who shop at Ross because of an epiphany that they rely too heavily on externals for their self-esteem? Or Kardashians who listen respectfully, use “I statements,” and seek to understand before being understood?
I don’t think so.
Atticus — my cerebral, bookish husband — got me hooked on Keeping Up with the Kardashians. His take on the Kardashians is far more sentimental than mine. He’s convinced the real reason people watch the show is because the women have healthy attachments to each other — although not so much the men. He thinks that no amount of butt x-rays and cleavage would compel people to tune in to the K-women year after year if they were merely dysfunctional. He actually said, and I quote: “they’re sort of the female equivalent of My Three Sons.”
While I think that’s a stretch, and maybe Atticus enjoys Kim’s backside more than I realize, he’s worked with troubled families for 20 years, and his perspective is usually spot-on. He believes that the Kardashians genuinely care about each other and support each other, despite the sniping and bad boundaries and incessant preening. He thinks Kris is an appealing matriarch, even when trout-lipped from an “allergic reaction”, as opposed to Dina Eastwood, who comes across as a histrionic train wreck in the nearly unwatchable Mrs. Eastwood & Company.
So while I think a stint in Wilderness Camp could be a momentary, entertaining departure from the standard Kardashian Kapers, I doubt that any therapy is going to change the family. Besides, I like the Kardashians just the way they are: over-dressed, over-the-top, overwrought.
But if you’re ever looking for a Wilderness consultant, E! Entertainment — ahem — look no further.