This month’s Staff Favorites will feature a collection of blogs and podcasts that we follow that have inspired or transformed us in some way. Some of these podcasts are specific to therapy and mental health, while others are simply about being human and living in the world. As always, we look forward to hearing what your favorites are in the comments section below!
The first time I heard On Being, I was driving home from college and thought I had just stumbled, radio dial first, into an interesting conversation about Kabbalah. I did not know I would carry that conversation and a hundred other ones with me over the next ten years, that I would host listening events, that I would travel to the California Redwoods to share these conversations with other listeners.
What stuck with me about that first listen was not the content, though I often recall details, but Krista Tippett’s presence as an interviewer. She is less an interviewer than “a conversation partner” (in her own words). Each conversation she hosts–with spiritual leaders, poets, trauma experts, therapists, astrophysicists, whale song researchers, and drag queen rabbis–is a masterclass in deep listening, crafting generous questions, and expansive, specific humanness.
A person who worked on the podcast once told me that Krista will read everything she can find by a guest in order to fall into their world, to meet them in conversation in their language. This is evident each week and all the more mesmerizing is the preservation of her own curiosity, personality, and history. Each episode is an hour and too short. There is no wrong or right place to start with this podcast; each conversation unfolds a world of wisdom, humor, and connection in real time. I become more myself with every listen–both through the wisdom of the guests and the witness of enlivening conversation.
What began as a simple podcast interviewing religious thinkers has grown into a vast exploration of what it means to be human, a book of wisdom, an expansive online archive, a project for enhancing civil virtue, gatherings across the country, and a national “pursuit [of] deep thinking, social courage, moral imagination and joy, to renew inner life, outer life, and life together.”
Other People’s Problems is a podcast that lets listeners in on Dr. Hillary McBride’s sessions as she and her clients manage to heal and transform their client’s experience. She cues you in on how she is understanding her clients as a way of getting the listener to pay attention to process. Dr. McBride is a trauma informed and body-based clinician specializing in body-shame, trauma, and anxiety. She is an incredible, warm, and brilliant clinician.
I was first introduced to her by her work in co-hosting The Liturgists podcast which is a podcast that is also about shame and other topics taken into the lens of science, faith, and art. The point of Hillary’s podcast is to help folks understand that a lot of the clinical topics and struggles she sees in her clients are not unlike what most folks experience. There is a normalizing factor that puts a listeners’ heart at ease as they imagine that other people’s problems are not unlike their own. It fosters collectivity and resonance across the pool of listeners.
This podcast, Sentenced to Life, has been excruciating, provocative, and profound to listen to. It is run by a clinical psychologist and trauma activist here in Chicago. The two found each other in a ketamine clinic two years ago, as a last effort to treat their complex traumas and subsequent suicidality. Both hosts are survivors of child sex abuse and share their experiences of connection and integration through ketamine treatment. Each week they host experts in the field or update us on how they move through their own healing.
To be real, this is the first podcast I have ever listened to in it’s entirety. The first few episodes shook something loose in me, and I have been hooked ever since. It has been so transformative for me to witness mental health professionals drop their façade and get real about their own struggles. Many of us seek out these careers because of our own relationships with mental illness, trauma, or more and this podcast isn’t afraid to speak to that truth.
CONTENT ADVISORY Be warned, this podcast is filled with content that most of us would rather turn away from, and that will be extremely triggering for many. Listen at your own discretion and with all the self-care you can access.