On Wednesday’s telecast of the “Today” show, Billy Bush talked about seeing the same psychotherapist for the past 30 years, since he was 14 years old. Considering his success, the shrink clearly has had a positive impact on his patient. But Bush’s long-term therapy does beg a question: How long is too long to see the same shrink?
According to Laura Osinoff, executive director of the National Institute for the Psychotherapies in Manhattan, “On average, you can expect to spend one to three years [in therapy] if you are having, for example, relationship problems. [Therapists] don’t try to change the person, but help them to embrace who they are.” Within the first six months, she says, you should begin to see some improvement on the issue that brought you to therapy in the first place.
That said, Osinoff — who has some patients she’s been seeing for over 20 years — points out that therapy is a difficult thing to do successfully within a rigid timeline. After all, it’s not like completing a course of antibiotics. “Certain people seek therapy but, because of their form of mental illness, they are unable to take any of it in,” says Osinoff.