by Jim McFarlin
Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., "The Love Doctor"
Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., the Oakland University professor of sociology who has emerged as one of the nation's most in-demand relationship experts, is hosting her first TV special, Secrets from The Love Doctor, for PBS. The 90-minute affair airs on WTVS (Channel 56) Sunday (Sept. 8 ) from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Oakland University is underwriting the program locally.
The show then will air in national syndication through American Public Television (APT) beginning Nov. 30.
A regular guest on FOX2 and local radio, Orbuch recently was seen nationally on Katie and has been featured on The Today Show and in the Huffington Post, the New York Times and TIME magazine. She's the author of five books, the latest being 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great, all based upon data gleaned from her groundbreaking study of 373 Wayne County couples for 27 years, following them from the year they applied for their marriage licenses until today. The massive project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is conducted at the U of M Institute for Social Research in Ann Arbor.
And Orbuch makes no bones about her desire to translate that research into a regular, nationally broadcast series. If Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura can do it, why not Dr. Terri – or rather, "The Love Doctor," a catchy handle suggested to her by a shrewd metro Detroit PR executive and a nickname she subsequently had registered.
Taped at the WTVS studios earlier this year, the PBS special focuses on "what makes a happy, healthy relationship over time," Orbuch said in a recent interview, "and the secrets to a fulfilling, exciting and passionate – yes, passionate – relationship. You can have a passionate long-term relationship as well.
"And the other thing I talk about in the PBS special that I think is important is why a happy, healthy relationship is vital to your physical, psychological and emotional growth, absolutely."
Unlike the standard public TV format, in which a subject matter expert is surrounded by an audience that peppers the host with questions, in Secrets from The Love Doctor "it's basically me driving the train, in three parts, but I ask the audience questions," Orbuch said. "They have clickers. That's the difference. I ask, they click, then we find out the results and I incorporate that into what I say. And there are graphics and exercises that I've developed to help you. So it's giving findings, then telling you how to incorporate them into your own relationships."
The special itself is 60 minutes long. "But we taped 20 extra minutes of bonus material, so if you watch the program and you pledge, you get a DVD as a gift called Gender Secrets from The Love Doctor, all about the real differences between men and women," she explains. "As social psychologists, we have found that men and women are similar in many ways. But when it comes to relationships, what I have found is that men and women are completely different."
She's going to explain all that in 20 minutes? "I have to leave you wanting more," Orbuch says, laughing. "I don't want this to be my last program."