I am a HUGE fan of podcasts, both in my personal life and in my professional life. As a therapist, I will sometimes “prescribe” podcasts between appointments as a way to build on the work that we are doing in session. Podcasts can be a great jumping off point when discussing themes of self-care, family life, and relationships. Podcasts can spark questions, reveal different points of view, and build understanding. Podcasting is also a platform that has amplified new and diverse voices, which offers comfort when our own realities are echoed by the experiences of others.
Below, you’ll find a sampling of some of my favorite podcast shows and some specific episodes I use with clients to spark reflection on emotional wellness and making meaning out of life.
I can’t recommend Death, Sex & Money highly enough.“A podcast hosted by Anna Sale about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.” Here’s one example of just how amazing this show is.
Terrible, Thanks for Asking is so good that I would recommend listening to every episode from the beginning. “this is a funny/sad/uncomfortable podcast about talking honestly about our pain, our awkwardness, and our humanness, which is not an actual word.”
Popaganda’s self-care episode takes an intersectional approach to emotional wellness: “Hardcore activists still need to sleep enough, eat enough, and stretch every once in a while. On this episode, we explore the gender and race dynamics of taking care of our minds and bodies and share self-care tips.”
Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast is hosted by New York Time’s best-selling author who shares self-care thoughts, practical tips, and interviews with influential thinkers “about test-driving ideas from contemporary science and ancient wisdom about building good habits and a happier life.”
Another Round’s Living in America episode looks at the “importance of self-care, especially for black people, in an era of what seems like a constant barrage of news stories about black deaths.”
Parenting is an especially rich category in the podcasting world.
The Longest Shortest Time (LST)— “The parenting show for everyone” — is so high quality, that I have recommended almost all of their episodes at some point or another. The episodes on early parenting from the first year are especially good if you go back to the archives. One of my favorite podcast episodes of all-time (parenting or otherwise) is LST’s “Peeping Mom”, which gives such a beautiful window into that vulnerable, early period of motherhood. Another incredibly powerful and practical episode is the one on recovering from birth trauma.
Slate’s Mom and Dad are Fighting is currently in transition as they bring on new hosts to the show, but the archives are chock full of discussions on parenting themes and interviews with parenting experts.
Some of my favorite parenting podcast moments are actually snippets, rather than whole parenting episodes. One examples is the conversation that the Slate’s Double X podcast hosts have with author Peggy Orenstein in this episode about her book, Girls and Sex, and strategies for talking to young girls about sexuality and consent. (Minutes: 3:30–19:30 for this specific segment).
Meanwhile, Dear Sugar is brave enough to confront parenting regret in a compassionate, understanding, and responsive way.
And Death, Sex, and Money tells the story of a powerful example of the parenting trauma of mistaken identity.
New York Magazine’s Sex Lives Podcast is “A weekly podcast about sex, lust, dating, technology, coupling, porn, fetish and freakiness. But mostly sex. With New York Magazine’s sex columnist Maureen O’Connor.”
Death, Sex, and Money does a great job depicting the many mixed emotions and experiences that people often have with porn.
The Longest Shortest Time’s brief series “The Parents Guide to Doing It” is SO good. Guests speakers and sex experts, Dan Savage and Jane Marie, get into the nitty-gritty of getting back into the swing of things in spite of all the challenges that new parents face when trying to stimulate a healthy sex life.
Emotional Health Science
Science Vs Antidepressants is a succinct episode on what the research says about anti-depressants, from a podcast that strives to “ find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.”
The Hidden Brain podcast “reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.”
Invisibilia podcast “is about the invisible forces that control human behavior — ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.” So many great episodes to choose from, but this one on fear has always stuck with me.
“Podcast therapy” can be an excellent way to extend the therapy process into our very own earbuds. This, of course, isn’t a definitive list of podcast episodes, but rather the start of a conversation. I love the idea of others contributing to this list to create a rich resource of podcasts that help facilitate reflection on wellness and emotional health.
Tell me: What are your favorite podcasts that make you feel good, inspired, and connected to the experiences of others?
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Anna Lindberg Cedar, MPA, LCSW #64284 is a Bay Area psychotherapist who specializes in burnout prevention. She is an expert practitioner of Dialectical Behavior Therapy — a counseling style that combines Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other change-based skills with mindfulness and other acceptance-based strategies. Find out more: www.annacedar.com .