Two men in a recording studio make a podcast.Podcasts have risen in popularity in recent years. According to statistics from April 2019, more than 700,000 podcasts exist, and the majority of these are active (still being updated with new episodes).

If you’re less familiar with podcasts, consider this newer form of digital media an on-demand approach to radio broadcasting. Audio episodes can be downloaded to your smartphone or other device for later listening at your convenience. Most people (69%) listen to podcasts with their smartphones. Only 31% of people listen to podcasts with a computer.

More than half of all Americans say they’ve listened to a podcast at some point. About 22% of Americans listen to podcasts each week.

Podcasts generally have a theme, and episodes may be loosely or closely connected. While podcasts can cover nearly any topic imaginable, they’re generally intended to inform, in an entertaining or inspirational way.

Why Make a Podcast?

Psychology and therapy podcasts can help provide insight into the often complex topics of mental health and the brain. You might also use a podcast to share your unique expertise or clinical experience with other mental health professionals.

A therapy podcast can’t replace mental health treatment. But many people who can’t access therapy services may utilize podcasts as a source of anonymous, free support. Podcasts can share self-help strategies and connect listeners by letting them know they aren’t alone in their struggles. Specific coping tips to address symptoms in the moment could benefit those who don’t yet have a therapist and may also help fill in gaps between weekly counseling appointments.

A podcast can also help increase awareness of counseling’s benefits and the numerous issues it could help address. For example, if you specialize in grief counseling, you might reach someone who wasn’t aware therapy could help them work through grief. Talking about physical symptoms that can indicate anxiety may help someone realize they could be dealing with anxiety instead of a medical condition.

Writing Content for Your Therapy Podcast

Whether you decide to target your podcast primarily to people experiencing mental health issues, other professionals who work in the psychology field, or both, you’ll want to develop a loose outline for episodes. Do you plan to connect your episodes with a loose theme, such as bipolar or children’s mental health? Maybe you want a narrower focus for your podcast, such as ways to help challenging clients succeed in therapy.

Sticking to your area of experience can help your podcast succeed. If you regularly work with people experiencing relationship issues, you may consider devoting an episode or two of your podcast to common issues partners who live together face. Similarly, if you have experience working with parents, parenting challenges and their effects on mental health may be a good topic for your podcast. 

When deciding on a topic, choose one that both interests you and lends itself well to multiple episodes. For example, a podcast on trauma might address a different facet of trauma in each episode: signs and symptoms, presentation, effects on life, treatments, and so on. It may help to review active mental health podcasts before you begin to make sure yours offers a somewhat new perspective. GoodTherapy’s list of mental health podcasts isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start. The American Psychological Association’s website also lists a number of podcasts.

Ethical Podcasting

Go beyond HIPAA requirements and follow common sense guidelines as well. Above all, try to keep your message empathic and supportive. Reinforce the idea that no one is beyond help. Also avoid sharing information about people you’re currently working with. Even details that seem minor or vague could violate confidentiality.

When sharing anecdotes about former clients, consider how they might feel if they happened to be listening to the podcast. Sure, you’d change their name, but some identifying information (such as the issue they dealt with) may be necessary for the anecdote. Could they recognize themselves from your story? Could your words cause harm? A good practice is altering details enough so the person involved wouldn’t easily recognize themselves in the story—unless they’ve given you permission to share.  

Remember, your podcast has the potential to reach people all over the world. Take care to avoid judgmental language or stereotypes. It may seem tempting to attract listeners with a discussion of mental health issues among public figures, but it’s wise to avoid this—even if you don’t intend to speculate about their diagnosis. Simply mentioning the public figure’s apparent “symptoms” and linking them to a few possible conditions can still be problematic, since you don’t have their full history.

This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about celebrities who’ve willingly shared their mental health diagnosis. Many people draw hope from knowing that an admired, famous, or renowned individual lives with the same condition and has still achieved success. This may also strengthen the knowledge that they aren’t alone.

Producing Your Therapy Podcast

Once you’ve decided on your topic and chosen a descriptive name for your podcast, you can begin recording and producing your podcast.

Here are some things you’ll want to consider when making a podcast:

Length and Scheduling

The length of your podcast is important, but don’t spend too much time worrying about whether an episode is too long or too short. A good goal for an episode is 20 to 40 minutes, but your podcast might run longer or shorter. Keep in mind where people might be listening: during a workout, on their daily commute, or while doing chores at home.

When writing content, stick to what’s informative and helpful for your listeners. Don’t pad with filler or unnecessary tangents.

Release episodes consistently to keep your listeners engaged. Develop a schedule you can follow, whether that’s once a week or twice a month. Consistency is key. In that vein, try to release your episodes at the same time and day of the week.

Format

Will you be speaking on the podcast alone? Do you intend to interview colleagues or other professionals in the field as guest speakers on your podcast? Will your podcast have a clear beginning, middle, and end? These are all things you’ll want to consider when writing content. Each episode doesn’t necessarily have to follow a predictable format, but it can help your listeners know what to expect from each podcast.

Knowing your audience can help you develop your speaking style in a natural way. Are you speaking as a professional to other professionals? As a compassionate care provider to people experiencing mental health issues? The answer can affect which vocabulary you use, the formality of your tone, and so on.

Technical Setup

Creating a podcast doesn’t require advanced tech skills. In fact, it’s possible to start with just your computer or smartphone. For better quality content, consider investing in a separate microphone, such as a headset microphone. You can use free software programs like GarageBand and Audacity, to record, edit, and mix your audio tracks. It may be possible to record and edit quality content without downloading any new software, depending on which built-in programs are on your computer.

You will need a quiet space to record, but this doesn’t have to be a soundproof studio. A quiet room in your house or therapy office will work well. Choose a time when you’re unlikely to be interrupted. Record and listen to a test track to make sure background noises don’t creep in. Also check that your voice comes through clearly, without distracting pops, echoes, or other feedback.

Connecting Your Podcast to Your Therapy Website

If you use Therapy Website Builder, you can easily link to your podcast from your customized site. Your website will be able to link to any directory in which your podcast appears (Itunes, Spotify, etc.). Your account’s Google Analytics portal can also give you an idea of how many people are finding your podcast through your website.

Therapy Website Builder is currently available only to GoodTherapy members.

References:

  1. 2019 podcast stats & facts (New research from Apr 2019). (2019, April 11). Retrieved from https://www.podcastinsights.com/podcast-statistics
  2. APA podcasts. (n.d.). Retrieved from  https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/education/podcasts
  3. Pullen, J. P. (2014, November 26). You asked: What are podcasts? Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/3608287/podcasts-serial-what-are
  4. Starting your podcast: A guide for students. (2018, November 15). NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2018/11/15/662070097/starting-your-podcast-a-guide-for-students
  5. Winn, R. (2019, May 7). Best podcast recording software (For Mac and PC) 2019. Retrieved from https://www.podcastinsights.com/best-podcast-recording-software