Dr. Jenn Berman knows Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis in a way that most people don’t. As the host of VH1’s hit show Couples Therapy, Dr. Berman recently did inpatient couples therapy with Francis and his girlfriend, Abbey Wilson.
Like the rest of America, Dr. Berman found out last week that Francis was sentenced to at least 270 days in county jail with three years of probation, in addition to mandatory psychological counseling and completion of an anger management course. But did she see this coming?
“We saw on Season 3 that Joe can get very aggressive. He clearly struggled to keep his cool,” Dr. Berman told Hollywood Take. "But Joe is not the only cast member who struggled with anger management issues this season. A lot of men in this world struggle with anger.”
The incident that prompted Francis’ arrest occurred before the current season of Couples Therapy started filming. Last May, Francis was convicted of assaulting three women at his home in 2011, with charges including assault, false imprisonment and dissuading a witness from reporting a crime.
“Joe has a lot of work to do on anger issues and impulse control,” Dr. Berman conceded, emphasizing that another big problem in his relationship with Wilson, who struggled with an eating disorder, was his desire to control situations and people.
And Dr. Berman saw Francis’ anger issues first-hand when he harshly accused her and VH1 of scripting Couples Therapy. "The show is not scripted," Dr. Berman told Hollywood Take in an earlier conversation. "It saddens me that he would say something like that after all the good work he’s done on the show. It’s hard to see yourself in that light. But I hope he can learn from this rather than attack everyone."
Francis’ temper was also evident in his verbal disputes with nearly every cast member of Couples Therapy. He called Real World: Las Vegas alum Dustin Zito “white trash,” poured water on his girlfriend and fellow Real World alum Heather Marter, and nearly came to blows with rapper Flavor Flav.
Nevertheless, Dr. Berman said, counseling can often provide better results than jail time. “With the proper intensive, long-term care, patients can definitely prevent violence and stop acting out. It is important to address the underlying issues [that are leading to violence]," she said. "I think therapy and anger management classes are more effective than jail when treating this issue. Sometimes, if people have time to sit and think about what they did, it can help. But sometimes they will just get angrier."
It also remains to be seen how a jail sentence will affect his relationship with Wilson, who has struggled with an eating disorder for most of her life. Yet Francis often seemed unsympathetic to Wilson's issues during his time on Couples Therapy. He was shown being verbally abusive toward Wilson on their opening day in the house, telling her to “quit being a f*cking b*tch.” Despite this, Wilson tweeted that their work with Dr. Berman on Couples Therapy has made their relationship stronger.
“Abbey recently tweeted that they are more in love than ever,” Dr. Berman said. “The more she had a voice this season the more she was able to deal with issues that were plaguing her.”