As you may have realized, the term “talk therapy” is a casual way to say “psychotherapy.” The beauty of talk therapy is that you can often get as much from listening as from speaking, which is where these podcasts can help. They are essentially self-help podcasts because you are helping yourself just by listening to them, but they also give you access to experts that you probably wouldn’t find yourself chatting with in your typical therapy session. Some of these offer themselves as mental health or psychology podcasts, but others qualify as therapy podcasts simply by fulfilling the criteria that they make us feel better. These podcasts can help you feel supported in between appointments with your therapist or the next available 12-step or group therapy meeting.
1. Unlocking Us with Brene Brown
Unlocking Us is a podcast that began on March 20, 2020, and is about getting to the parts of us that we lock away to appear strong to others, to look like we have it all together. In truth, though, we make the most powerful connections when we allow ourselves to be seen honestly, letting the challenges of life reveal the emotions that are brought up and how we choose to face them.
The Host: Brené Brown has been studying us, meaning we humans, for long enough to have written five New York Times bestselling books, but she may be best known for her TED Talk that went viral—The Power of Vulnerability has had over 45 million views to date. Unlocking Us, her podcast that began March 20, 2020, utilizes her years of academic experience as a researcher and professor along with her ability to practice what she teaches—sharing results of her studies while being personally courageous, vulnerable and empathetic.
The Guests: Within the first 6 episodes, Brené welcomes Tarana Burke, the creator behind the #MeToo movement, grief expert David Kessler, Bestselling author Glennon Doyle, and Musician Alicia Keys.
Why you have to listen: Because she focuses on the feelings that we keep trying to avoid, and helps us face them. When we feel insecure doing something for the first time, suffering, anxiety, and how to bring more heart to the challenges of dealing with them all.
Listen to Unlocking Us with Brené Brown
Must Listen Episodes:
2. Is This Adulting?
The term “adulting” seems to have made its first appearance in the Twitterverse in 2008, and might have previously been described as “being a grown-up.” The podcast Is This Adulting? was born when two college friends realized a few years after graduating that they were struggling with their mental health. In helping each other, they also chose to help remove the stigma around mental illness and created a community to support listeners around the podcast.
The Hosts: Steven and Chris are not experts; they are people who have experienced and are experiencing lives affected by mental health challenges. While Steven faced anxiety and depression from a young age, Chris never understood how to support him in his struggles until he experienced panic attacks. They have found ways to laugh as they work through their issues.
The Guests: Almost exclusively other podcasters, from shows covering all different genres. Several guests visit from the Multitude podcast collective, as well as hosts of Wine and Crime, Good Morning from Hell, These Are Their Stories and Trends Like These, and The Bright Sessions, a fictional therapy podcast.
Why you have to listen: They chat about relatable issues like imposter syndrome, self-harm, suicide, and anxiety. But beyond that, their website at best-friends.com offers community connection so that listeners can help each other. It goes beyond listening to reaching out and supporting each other. They also do a regular Mental Health Check-In every week.
Listen to Is This Adulting?
Must listen episodes:
3. Emotional Badass
“Where Moxie Meets Mindful” is the tagline for the podcast Emotional Badass. Hosted by a licensed psychotherapist, it offers an “emotional education” and covers what feels like a fresh approach to trauma, narcissists and manipulation, bullying, betrayal and how to use self-care and mindfulness to heal. Over one million downloads in more than 100 countries indicate that it resonates throughout human experience. Episodes are short, around 15 minutes, which makes it easier to digest potentially sensitive issues.
The Host: Nikki Eisenhauer, M.ED. LPC, LCDC is the host, and the letters after her name tell us she has a Masters in Education, is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, but she is also a survivor of abuse. She focuses on highly sensitive people and the feelings that come up in daily life and how to manage them.
The Guests: Episodes with guests are a bit longer, and include people like someone recovering from porn addiction, or business owners with helpful services like sensory deprivation tanks, fitness for pregnant moms, or instructors for yoga, rolfing, or nutrition.
Why you have to listen: The approach is more specific than blanket concepts like “anxiety” or “depression”, so if you already have some awareness of where your issues are rooted, this offers more targeted support. Hyper-vigilance, Betrayal, Inner Child, all point you to the focus you need to become empowered to face tough emotions.
Listen to Emotional Badass
Must listen episodes:
4. Beyond Your Past Radio
Many people facing mental health challenges today are survivors of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), trauma or abuse. Sometimes the trauma can’t be recalled until we experience the reactions to it, in the form of emotional or mental anguish of some sort. Beyond Your Past Radio came about as an extension of the blog Surviving My Past.net, and offers hope and tools to move forward despite the influence of past traumas.
The Hosts: Matthew Pappas, CLC, MPNLP and Joanne Cipressi, CHt, CNLP are both trained in Neuro-linguistic programming, with Matthew also being certified as a Life Coach and Joanne certified in hypnosis. Matthew is the founder of Surviving My Past.net and shares his journey of taking control his life and emotions. Joanne has experienced abuse and betrayal and shares her experience of the healing that is possible for everyone.
The Guests: Authors and coaches, healthcare professionals and people who have been there, share strategies to help listeners and each other, as they continue to heal and take further steps to live from a sense of inner strength.
Listen to Beyond Your Past Radio
Must listen episodes:
5. The One You Feed
You’ve probably heard the tale ascribed to a Native American elder about the two wolves that struggle for dominance within us. If you haven’t, you can read it at the website for the podcast named after the moral of that story, The One You Feed. With a focus on wisdom, much like the type from the elder mentioned above, the offerings of guidance have a poetic quality as well as being advice that can be followed by anyone. It has been included on “best of” lists from Oprah, Huffington Post, and iTunes, and has been downloaded over 13 million times.
The over 300 episodes can be viewed by sub-topics: Anxiety & Depression, Addiction & Recovery, Habits & Behavior Change, Meditation & Mindfulness. It’s the type of insight all of us can use in our lives, because everyone experiences struggle and doubt, but not everyone has a wise mentor at hand. Now we do.
The Host: Eric Zimmer draws from his experience with great life difficulties like addiction and homelessness and shares what he’s learned as he built a life for himself. With 20 years as a behavior coach to draw from, and as a published author himself, he speaks with fellow experts about their search for meaning and fulfillment in life.
The Guests: They range from PhDs to poets like Mark Nepo, religious and spiritual teachers like Rev. Richard Rohr or Rabbi Rami Shapiro, entrepreneurs like Russel Simmons to musicians and reporters. Seeing so many names with prominence in their fields assures us that even names we don’t recognize have something of excellence to offer.
Why you have to listen: The tagline is “Practical wisdom for a better life”, and one listener called the podcast the “best antidote to feeling bad I’ve ever heard.” Beyond the hundreds of discussions that can only enrich our experience of the challenges and joys of life from creative and real-world perspectives, there are mini-episodes of 5–15-minute guidance, a recommended reading list and opportunities to connect and delve deeper available on the website.
Listen to The One You Feed
Must listen episodes:
6. Unf*ck your Brain
Sometimes people respond better to strong, sailor-style, no-nonsense language that really gets their attention. The host of Unf*ck Your Brain is an emphatic feminist with a justice degree who wants to help women overcome the thinking that holds them back. You can tell that this is the sort of talk you’ll get on this self-help podcast that focuses on how we’re conditioned by society and the self-talk that results and continues on a loop.
The Host: Kara Loewentheil, J.D. and Master Certified Coach, wants you to know that she isn’t just sharing positive thinking or spiritual tips because before she became a Life Coach, she was a women’s rights lawyer. She’s, therefore, using good arguments for cognitive science and feminist theory to help you see past the social structures and beliefs that we were taught.
The Guests: Only rarely does she talk to anyone but you, the listener. Sometimes she will answer questions from listeners, but she is the only expert on her podcast.
Why you need to listen: Her straight talk also makes things understandable so you can undertake the “thought work” immediately. Sometimes just hearing familiar concepts reframed offers new insights that just click. She may use tough talk, which may not work for everyone, but she’s funny and speaks from her own experience.
Listen to Unf*ck Your Brain
Must Listen Episodes:
While there several mental health podcasts with comedians and everyday people sharing their struggles with emotional and mental health issues in a variety of ways, this list offers the most relatable guidance from those with a level of expertise to guide your self-help journey. Talk therapy podcasts should not be a replacement for psychotherapy, but a tool, a resource for your personal growth and healing.
Discover More Great Audio…