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Reality Series “Ryan and Tatum: The O’Neals” Could Inspire Others to Seek Help for Troubled Relationships

Tatum and Ryan O'Neal. Photo courtesy of OWN.

The Oprah Winfrey Network reality  series “Ryan and Tatum: The O’Neals” (Sundays, 10 p.m. Eastern)  follows the troubled relationship between actor Ryan O’Neal and his daughter Tatum.

Although the two won the hearts of America with their portrayal of two Depression era grifters in the 1973 film “Paper Moon,” they had been estranged for the past 25 years.

Ryan is trying to deal with anger and grief from the death of his long-time partner actress Farrah Fawcett from cancer. And Tatum has difficulty with her father’s volatile temper, his casual attitude toward her sobriety, and feelings she was abandoned when Ryan began a relationship with Fawcett.

Television is filled with reality shows about celebrities and their drug or alcohol addiction, depression, family dramas or other problems. These programs include “Celebrity Rehab” on VH1 and “Braxton Family Values” on We TV.

So we asked National Association of Social Workers member Tina Greenbaum, MSW, LCSW, to comment on the impact of “Ryan and Tatum: The O’Neals” and whether that TV show could benefit others. Greenbaum is a New York City holistic psychotherapist who provides couples and relationship counseling and helps clients deal with stress,  addictions, eating disorders and other challenges.

Here is the interview:

Tina Greenbaum

Q: Do you think allowing the public to see celebrities work through relationship issues such as the O’Neals will encourage more people to seek the help of mental health professionals such as social workers? Or is the program exploitive and merely giving the public a look at a potential emotional trainwreck?

GREENBAUM: I think that seeing anyone work through their relationship issues is a good thing. The beauty of seeing real people go through real issues is that we can all identify in some way or another. There are only so many themes in the human condition – with an infinite variety of how they get played out. The fact that the Tatums are celebrities and they have such human feelings could definitely bring more people in to seek help.

Q: Do you think Tatum O’Neal is justified in seeking to repair her relationship with her father? Or would have been better for her to simply live her life and try not so hard to have a relationship with him?

GREENBAUM: I applaud anyone who makes the effort to repair a relationship. I think there also has to be the wisdom to know whether it’s worth the effort to continue effort. It takes two people willing to grow to create change. Unfinished business leaves a mark on us. If we are lucky enough to be able to repair a relationship, it’s definitely worth the effort.

Q: Do you think the fact the O’Neals are celebrities makes it harder for them to get the help they need?

GREENBAUM: I wouldn’t necessarily make that judgment, as we are all different; But celebrity status can certainly add complicating factors to one’s life. It takes a big person to recognize they need help. If the ego is inflated, it may be necessary for someone to hit bottom before the reality sets in that they need help.

Q: In your work as a social worker have you seen cases such as the O’Neals?

GREENBAUM: I’ve been in private practice for nearly 30 years. I have seen a lot. They demonstrated the issues that all of us deal with at some level or another.

To learn more about how social workers help clients improve their relationships visit NASW’s “Help Starts Here” Relationships Web page by clicking here.

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1 Comment

  1. Tatum is living in the past. She cannot keep going back n moaning about what is lost etc etc. It is getting annoying. Let bygones be bygones. Farrah is gone. May she RIP. There should be no competition now.

    Besides Ryan is ready to reconcile. Altho’ he is clueless, she has to let him in, put her past resentful feelings aside and move forward so that they can both heal from now on.

    Life is too short to hold grudges and he is afterall your father for crying out loud.

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