As a clinical quality improvement consultant, I find myself spending a significant amount of time in the car traveling to provider sites. Sometimes it has been up to 9-10 hours per day. This leaves a lot of time to either be with my thoughts, or I can spend some of that time learning new ideas or hearing about other people’s lives, experiences, and perceptions. My Apple Podcast library has evolved throughout the years, and I would like to share a few of my favorites.
Mental Illness Happy Hour
One of the first podcasts that I listened to because of my curiosity as a therapist was Mental Illness Happy Hour. I would listen to Paul Gilmartin interview guests about their experiences with mental health, trauma, and substance use on my way to Beaver County to work as the drug and alcohol specialist for the assertive community treatment team.
The opening of the podcast states, “It’s like a waiting room that doesn’t suck.” Paul has a self-deprecating humor and is so honest and authentic regarding his own experiences with mental health. His interviewing skills elicit raw disclosures from the guests. There have been a couple of episodes that have stuck with me for many years:
- #272 Ex-CHP Officer Kevin Briggs – In this episode, Paul interviews an ex-highway patrolman who worked on the Golden Gate Bridge. Officer Kevin explores how his understanding, perceptions, and empathy changed while working this beat.
- #245 Pedophile Ring Survivor Anneke Lucas – I think the title speaks for itself. To hear the journey of this woman from being sold by her mother to wealthy men to teaching yoga to prison inmates was both heart wrenching and an honor to listen to.
I cannot say what led me to get away from listening to these remarkable stories. Maybe it was the tears shed, maybe I needed something lighter at the time, but upon writing this, I think I will resubscribe. The newest episode is an interview with a substance use counselor who has worked in LA’s Skid Row. What could be more interesting than that?
Crackdown is a podcast coming out of Vancouver, Canada hosted by a fella named Garth Mullins. He is an active leader within the harm reduction and safe supply movement in British Columbia. He works or has worked at an overdose prevention center. He continues to use opiates on occasion while being prescribed methadone stating he should not be denied the ability to experience euphoria just because he got wired to heroin. Garth and his guests provide one with an uninhibited perspective of persons who use drugs. It reminds me to ask the question, “what do drugs do for you?”
Naturally Noncompliant is somewhat like Crackdown but comes out of the United States and is centered around the experiences of individuals who are or have been in treatment at Opioid Treatment Programs. It currently has three episodes, so it wouldn’t be difficult to catch up. I will say when I listen to these podcasts, there is a looming fear that someday a voice I have heard and empathized with will be lost.
Scope of Practice
Scope of Practice is hosted by The Connecticut Certification Board. The show brings on professionals in the field of addiction who are challenging the status quo of substance use disorder treatment and calling for systems, providers, and clinicians to do better.
The episode that aired on April 19, 2023, Raising the Bar for Group Therapy with Andrew Bordt, M.Ed. from the Institute for the Advancement of Group Therapy, made me think about group therapy differently. If an individual is not engaged in the material and discussion, then it is a waste of the individual’s time. How do we shift from the typical round robin group format to getting group members engaging with one another around important topics and material and leave the group facilitate to their job of facilitation? Andrew provides some awesome ideas I have utilized in my consulting work.
Listening to podcasts can open you up to a whole new world. We get mired in our experiences as individuals and clinicians and forget there are other theoretical frameworks, ways of conceptualizing behaviors, diagnoses, etc. Also, it assists me in honing my interviewing skills. It reminds me that these skills are not unique to counseling but truly a part of communication between human beings.
Other podcasts that may be of interest:
Christie Nebel, MBA, LPC is the Director of Clinical Quality Improvement at IRETA. Christie earned her MA in Community Counseling from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and a MBA from Chatham University. She earned her undergraduate Psychology degree from Clarion University. Christie has worked in many different capacities within the behavioral health field. Her career started as a drug and alcohol outpatient counselor, and she transitioned to providing therapeutic support to individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders through community treatment team services. She has also worked in a managed care organization and assisted in the creation of a medication-assisted treatment program within a family health center. Working at IRETA provides Christie with the continued opportunity to positively impact peoples’ lives that have been negatively affected by addiction.