Howard Stern, the ubiquitous satellite radio talk-show host, is a big proponent of psychotherapy. He has noted how he’s been in psychotherapy three times a week for the past few decades, much like Woody Allen. But what kind of psychotherapy is Howard Stern in? And why does it seem endless?
This type of intensive, long-term psychotherapy is almost always psychoanalysis — a specific type of psychotherapy that focuses on how a person’s unconscious conflicts impact a person’s everyday functioning. People who undergo psychoanalysis almost always meet with their analyst 2 to 3 times a week, every week, for years on end. Howard Stern has said he sees his analyst 3 times a week, but sometimes feels like he would like to cut down to twice a week.
Psychoanalysis is considered a specific form of psychodynamically-oriented psychotherapy and is far more popular in European countries than the U.S. And it’s no wonder — it’s the form of treatment invented by Sigmund Freud himself. Contrary to popular belief, there’s been a fair amount of empirical research conducted on psychodynamic therapy demonstrating its general effectiveness (see, for example, Shedler, 2010). Psychoanalysis is indeed a valid, effective form of therapy.
But at three times (or more) a week, who can afford such intensive therapy (other than celebrities like Howard Stern or Woody Allen)? And why would you bother if other forms of less intensive psychotherapy can be just as effective?