Reviewed by Diane McDonald
Accessed on https://betweenuspodcast.com
Podcasts can be a great way to learn new information in the field of psychotherapy. Episodes are short enough that they can be listened to in the car, at the gym, or when faced with an unexpected client cancellation, making better use of that time than possibly sitting with the mild irritation! A number of new podcasts have been springing up online lately, giving us a wide variety of content to choose from.
For me, working as a therapist can feel a bit isolating. Listening to other therapists speak candidly about their work provides some companionship and increases my sense of belonging to the wider community of psychotherapists in the world today. The first episode of this podcast (Reyes, 2016) dives right into this theme of alienation, with the interviewee outlining how he chose a career in therapy because of a sense of alienation in his own life and his need to be ‘in relationship’. Questions such as ‘What makes a therapist?’ and ‘Does the mind of a therapist have a particular shape or feel to it?’ are at the forefront for presenter and psychotherapist John Totten. Based in Seattle, this podcast aims to explore therapists’ unconscious and conscious motivations for choosing this particular career, with Totten also seeking to find out ‘What happens in therapy?’, and ‘How does it work?’.
The use of both music and excerpts from movies sets an intriguing atmosphere throughout each of the twenty episodes. Stories of psychotherapy are presented by practitioners and clients alike, with the best episodes focusing on the theme of integration. In episode two, Doug Hansen (therapist, supervisor and professor) speaks with brutal honesty of periods in his personal life which both aided and hindered his ability to sit with clients (2016). His spiritual understanding of deep human experiencing is incredibly moving to listen to. Hansen notes that therapy can be ‘a gamble’. The gamble is this: ‘Will my therapist’s mind be something that is more flexible and integrated than my own?’, and concludes that ‘sometimes people pick therapists whose minds are not more integrated than the patients and then the therapy goes nowhere and people waste time and money’. Food for thought indeed.
Other episodes feature creatives – directors, filmakers, musicians – speaking from their perspective as clients. While certainly interesting to include, I found myself disengaged at times during the clients’ stories – maybe it felt somewhat like a busman’s holiday! However, I would highly recommend tuning into the interview with Robert Stolorow (2017). Perhaps best known for his academic collaborations with George Atwood on the role of intersubjectivity within our field, over the years psychotherapist Robert Stolorow has added to our understanding of how to fully integrate trauma. In episode 10 of this podcast, Stolorow talks of the impact trauma has had on his own life in the wake of his wife’s sudden death. According to Stolorow, trauma shatters the ‘absolutisms of everyday life’. Traumatised individuals enter into a world of estrangement and isolation where life can lose its significance. We learn from this episode that the goal of therapy is to integrate the traumatic experience more, so that there is less dissociation or other defences at play. The role of the therapist is to ‘say the unsayable’ and to lean in to the client’s traumatic experience, which can feel counterintuitive for the therapist who wishes to soothe the client in the face of extreme pain.
Contrary to presenter John Totten’s concern that each episode might turn into an hour-long infomercial for therapy, what it offered me is a space to reflect on myself as a therapist in a very meaningful way. My hope in reviewing it is to inspire my colleagues to access the digestible and entertaining treasure troves of information that are currently available in this format.
Diane McDonald MIACP, is also a pre-accredited associate member of IAHIP. She holds a Masters degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy and a Diploma in Marriage and Relationship Counselling. She currently works in private practice with both couples and individuals in Lucan village, Co. Dublin (www.dianemcdonald.ie). Diane can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hanson, D. (2016). Episode 02: Origin stories with Doug Hansen. Retrieved 10 January 2018 from https://betweenuspodcast.com/2016/10/05/episode-02-origin-stories-with-doug-hansen/
Reyes, R. (2016). Episode 01: Alienation with Ro Reyes. Retrieved on 10 January 2018 from https://betweenuspodcast.com/2016/09/23/episode-01-alienation-with-ro-reyes/
Stolorow, R. (2017). Episode 10: Finitude with Dr. Robert Stolorow. Retrieved 10 January 2018 from https://betweenuspodcast.com/2017/01/25/episode-10-finitude-with-dr-robert-stolorow/
Totten, J., & Neely, M. (2016). Between us. Retrieved on 15 January 2018 from https://betweenuspodcast.com/