Howard Stern Goes to This Old-Fashioned Psychotherapy, Throws Shade on Other Types
Howard Stern, the well-known radio-show host, is a huge proponent of psychotherapy. But whenever the topic comes up during an interview, he makes is more clear that he is a bit of a therapy snob. There is only one type of therapy that he considers worthwhile.
Modern psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is typically provided by a psychotherapist who is trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy and other modern, research-backed therapeutic techniques. Therapists come in all shapes and forms, must be licensed in their state, and can have a Master’s degree, a doctorate (Ph.D. or Psy.D.), or a medical degree (MD or DO). Therapists work on the hard stuff in life, including the treatment of mental illness (unlike life coaches) and serious mental health issues.
There are many types of psychotherapy. Some therapists practice specific types of therapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Some take a client-centered approach, and tailor their therapy focus based on the client’s needs. Most therapists don’t adhere to one approach dogmatically, but include techniques and theories from multiple areas.
One of the original forms of psychotherapy is called psychoanalysis. Forms of psychoanalysis were practiced by Freud and Jung. In psychoanalysis, the patient is seen by a psychoanalyst who is usually initially trained as a psychiatrist, but has gone through additional intense schooling to specialize in psychoanalysis. Patients are typically seen 2 to 4 times per week for years on end.
While once very popular, psychoanalysis is seen by many therapists and mental health professionals as old-fashioned and out-of-touch with modern treatment methods of mental illness and mental health concerns. Insurance doesn’t pay for such frequent treatment, and most people don’t have a schedule that is conducive to seeing a professional multiple times a week. It’s no surprise it’s seen by many as therapy for the rich.
Howard Stern has been vocal in his support of psychoanalysis, and has been in it for more than 30 years. While at one time he was seeing his analyst up to 4 times a week, he appears to be down to 3 times a week nowadays.
And while he is supportive of anyone in psychotherapy, sometimes that support seems lukewarm or conditional. In many interviews throughout the years, he asks the celebrity or singer whether they’re in psychotherapy. If they are only seeing their therapist once a week — the most common frequency for clients in therapy! — he usually dismisses their efforts.
He also downplays any therapist that isn’t a psychiatrist. In America, it is increasingly rare for psychiatrists to offer psychotherapy to their patients — unless, of course, they practice psychoanalysis.
Throwing Shade on Modern, Regular Psychotherapy
Nowhere was this behavior more evident than in his recent interview on November 9, 2021 with model, actress, and author Emily Ratajkowski. She was being interviewed in support of a new book. As the conversation turned to talking about her relationship with her father, Stern brought up whether she was in psychotherapy.
Howard Stern: You’ve done therapy, so I’m sure you’ve thought about all this stuff. How much therapy have you done by the way?
Emily Ratajkowski: Enough.
Stern: Enough? A lot? I go in…
Ratajkowski: I’ve been in it for the past 4 years? Yeah. 3 years?
Stern: A couple of times a week?
Ratajkowski: I like therapy. Once a week. I really like therapy.
Stern: Once a week? So it’s not psychotherapy? It’s something a little more broad.
Ratajkowski: It’s talk therapy. Yeah.
Once a week is the norm for modern psychotherapy. It is frustrating to see an otherwise big proponent of therapy to suggest that if (a) you’re not seeing a psychiatrist and (b) you’re not going at least 3 times per week, you’re not in “real” psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy is a great treatment option to consider if you need help to overcome a difficulty in life, or need help with a mental health problem. While I respect Howard Stern’s decades-long support of people being in psychotherapy, I do wish he would stop denigrating forms of psychotherapy that most people go to.