Chelsea Handler Gets Real About Therapy and Its Impact On Her Life

Chelsea Handler got her start in the stand-up comedy scene after moving to Los Angeles from New Jersey at the age of 19. It was her role in the 2002 hidden camera show, Girls Behaving Badly that propelled her into her career as a late-night TV host. She hosted and executive produced her celebrity gossip show, Chelsea Lately, on E! for seven years and later originated a few other shows and TV documentaries.

She is also a writer with regular magazine columns and six books under her belt. In her latest book, Life Will Be the Death of Me… and you too! and the articles and interviews that followed, she opens up about how and why she started therapy, and how it has affected her whole life.

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Chelsea Handler was not a fan of therapy or meditation

Handler has always been tough, some even call her fearless. She described herself before therapy as having “bulldozed” her way through life and her career. This prevented her from looking behind her at the good or bad she left in her wake. Her way of dealing with the troubles of life was to muster her way through with brute strength and never ever let another person see her cry.

In a piece for Vogue Australia, she wrote: “I planned to make it through my therapy sessions without talking about my childhood and certainly without crying in front of anyone. What I soon came to learn, though, was that the accidental death of my brother, when I was nine years old and he was 22, was at the root of my anger.”

Set on not talking about her childhood or her brother, she spent the first two months of therapy talking about people she was never even directly involved with.

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Sometimes when I have no pants on, I get chilly.

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Chelsea Handler, in a strange way, has Trump to thank for her transformation

Handler finally sought therapy when her rage after the 2016 election became too much. She even got to the point of confronting random strangers in airports that were watching Fox News. Knowing she couldn’t go on with so much anger, she sought out a psychiatrist who had been a guest on her show.

At first, she said she took it “week by week” and was waiting for him to give her tools to deal with her lack of patience and her outrage from the election. She spent two months of therapy talking almost exclusively about the Trumps and had no intention of switching over to personal matters.

It wasn’t until she was handed the simple gift of an orange her psychiatrist brought from his own tree, that she finally broke down. After that shift, she began working on her own issues. She was able to sort through her anger about her brother’s death, and her disgust at her father’s reaction that caused her to not want to cry like him.

She ended her writing piece for Vogue Australia with the line: “I am healthier now, and for that I have the election of Donald Trump to thank.”

How does Chelsea Handler feel now that she’s gone through therapy?

Chelsea Handler in a turtleneck sweater, smiling off camera
Chelsea Handler| Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Now, Handler says she’s more open, present, and gentle since working through her issues in therapy. She no longer rolls her eyes at buzzwords like “gratitude,” “universe,” and “kale.”

She goes on to say: “Now I understand what people are talking about. I also understand that allowing yourself to be vulnerable is what real strength is – that now I have cleaned out the biggest injury of my life I can be of better service to others.”

She has currently scaled back her therapy sessions to only once or twice a month. She is intent on learning to navigate her emotions and her life without the guidance of a professional.