Down Town at Downton Abbey

Like millions of others I’ve been gripped at 9pm on a Sunday evening by the goings on at Downton Abbey.  Set in Newbury at Highclere Castle, the setting is superb.  Apparently the last episode of series two took the best ever viewings, at 10.7 million, for a drama on TV in the last decade.

So what is it that causes so many of us to sit, glass of red in one hand and cheese and onion flavoured crisps  in the other, goggled eyed at our television sets? For me it’s about the luxurious grandeur of a stately home, the attention to detail with the costumes and the differences in character of the cast, both upstairs and down. But most of all, it’s about relationships: relationships between lovers who seem to bumble from one disaster to the next.

There’s the ongoing saga of Mary and Matthew, why can’t they just get it together? Then there’s Lord and Lady Grantham, just how did he become mixed up with the maid, Jane? What of Sybil and the chauffeur- will love triumph over class difference? And then there’s Mr Bates and Anna- the couple we have longed to see finally tie the knot only for the groom to be snatched away days after his wedding by police.

As a relationship therapist what do I make of this? Surprisingly or not, my work involves helping people just like Mary and Matthew, Lord and Lady Grantham, Sybil and the chauffeur and Mr and Mrs Bates. It also means working with people like Edith who seem to have little success in finding love. Many of the issues clients talk to me about are connected with attachment and connection, misunderstandings around communication and current and past hurts which seem to get in the way of their relationship. The way I work with people varies enormously, there is no magic formula to finding answers, and only a willingness to commit to working together will yield results.

I’d relish the opportunity to work at Downton Abbey; I’d be delighted to see Edith find true love, to help Mary and Matthew sort out their complex situation and to see Lord and Lady Grantham back on track in their marriage, as well of course, to see Bates and Anna reunited. And yet, I can only do so much, the choices always belong to the clients. Whilst I can help people understand themselves, each other and their relationship in more depth, what they do with that understanding is up to them. My role is to facilitate change, not make decisions for my clients. So with this in mind, whilst Mary and Mathew might gain greater insight into why they have such a complicated relationship, the choice to pursue it remains with them.  Or in their case, the script writers!

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3 Responses to Down Town at Downton Abbey

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