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Podcasts Tackling Sensitive Subjects

Podcast hosts are rarely mental health professionals

10:53 AM GMT+1 on June 5, 2023

Greg James, host of the Radio 1 Breakfast Show, Tailenders and The Fast and the Curious, wrote an interesting piece in iNews last week, all about the potential risks of opening up too much about your personal life in podcast interviews.

“I’ve found myself listening to quite a few podcasts recently that make me feel like I’m listening to a deeply private therapy session,” he wrote. “But instead of a trained professional asking the questions, it’s the man from Dragon’s Den nodding and saying “wow”. I’ve shouted out loud at such exchanges. ‘WHO IS THIS FOR?!’ ‘WHY ARE YOU SAYING THIS!?’’

“Mental health professionals train for years to be worthy of your confessions, and they know how to handle them, whereas an audience of strangers probably doesn’t. So treat your dark thoughts with the respect they deserve.”

He makes an interesting point. Some podcasts are great at approaching sensitive subjects. On the Marie Curie Couch, for instance, feature trained bereavement experts asking celebrity guests asking all the right questions, so they can approach loss in the right way. I have also found solace from hearing guests open up about difficult subjects.

When I lost a close friend late last year, I took a lot from listening to the Rev Richard Coles on How Do You Cope?… with Elis and John talking about the loss of his partner, and how grief can knock you out of step with the rest of the world.

But where is the line of revealing too much? Podcasts are unlike any other medium, in which listening through your ears provides a form of intimacy between the guest and the listener. Podcast production is also usually small too, so if you’re a guest you may not be thinking about the number of people who would end up listening. I guess the line of revealing too much comes down to whether the guest later goes on to regret it.

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