Therapy with an Audience, An Interview with Doug Friedman, LCSW
An interview with Doug Friedman, LCSW, the host of Your Mental Breakdown, on why he chose to record therapy sessions for his podcast. Curt and Katie talk with Doug about the logistics and benefits of publicly providing therapy. We also look at how podcasting can decrease stigma and open up flexibility to learn as a therapist (rather than rigidly holding to a modality or to an expert status that doesn’t allow for mistakes).
It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.
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Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.
Interview with Doug Friedman, LCSW
Doug Friedman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Los Angeles. He has spent nearly 20 years working with adults, adolescents and families with issues ranging from depression and anxiety to substance abuse, bipolar disorder and PTSD. He has supervised programs in community mental health settings and he continues to provide clinical supervision to therapists in his private group practice, Clear Mind Full Heart. Doug is the creator and co-host of the mental health/entertainment podcast, Your Mental Breakdown.
Doug received a Masters in Social Work from The Catholic University of America and a BA in Study of Religion from UCLA. Before becoming a psychotherapist, Doug worked for a music management company that oversaw bands like Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Beastie Boys, and Bonnie Raitt. Doug is also the artist and songwriter behind all the music heard on the podcast, Your Mental Breakdown.
In this episode we talk about:
- Doug’s mission of normalizing therapy and decreasing mental health stigma
- The importance of learning as a therapist and exploring mistakes or alternatives
“Having that ability to self reflect as a therapist and as a person is a wonderful tool for growth.” — Doug Friedman, LCSW
- The experience of being a therapist on a public-facing podcast
- Why Doug doesn’t hold a modality sacred
- How therapy serves the client as a focus for treatment
- The logistics of setting up the podcast (laws, ethics, etc.)
- Navigating the relationship with the client on the podcast (dual relationships, confidentiality)
- The benefit of recording sessions and reviewing them later
- Exploration of opportunities and different choices that we can make in the room
- Cohost rapport and trust, inquiry, love, disagreement, calling out
- The comfort level in being recorded for a podcast: shifting from one on one to a public audience
- Creating a system to keep the work of making the podcast sustainable
- Being vulnerable and authentic as a value
“Being an expert doesn’t mean you know everything right there at your fingertips. It means you have the ability to find the thing that’s going to help the person.” — Doug Friedman, LCSW
- Being an expert does not mean having the right answer in the room, but knowing how to find the answer and seek additional advice
- How other clients respond to Doug’s podcast
- The possibility of the public persona and “fame”
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Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:
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Who we are:
Curt Widhalm, LMFT
Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at: http://www.curtwidhalm.com
Katie Vernoy, LMFT
Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at: http://www.katievernoy.com
A Quick Note:
Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.
Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.
Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:
Consultation services with Curt Widhalm or Katie Vernoy:
Connect with the Modern Therapist Community:
Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:
Voice Over by DW McCann https://www.facebook.com/McCannDW
Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano https://groomsymusic.com
Transcript for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast (Autogenerated):
Transcripts do not include advertisements just a reference to the advertising break (as such timing does not account for advertisements).
You’re listening to the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe, and practice as human beings. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm, and Katie Vernoy.
Curt Widhalm 0:15
Welcome back modern therapists, this is the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm, with Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast where we talk about all of the things that happen to and around therapists and their lives and showing up in the world and the ways that we are talking about mental health advocacy in a lot of different ways. And today, we are super fortunate to be joined by Doug Friedman, licensed clinical social worker, and one of the hosts of the Your Mental Breakdown podcast, which is this fabulous foray into what therapy sessions are actually like. And if you haven’t heard this podcast before, it’s actually real therapy sessions with real clients. It’s not made up. It’s not reenacted in any sort of way. And we are here to talk about all of the wonderful ways of showing up in this capacity. So thank you so much for joining us today, Doug.
Doug Friedman 1:15
You’re very welcome. Thank you guys for having me.
Katie Vernoy 1:17
Before I let you introduce yourself, I just have to say you reached out to me, I was like, Oh, my gosh, blast from the past, we, we were like ships crossing in the night at a mental health organization that it will remain nameless. But it was something where both of us have now broken out of the public mental health sphere, and are both having podcasts. And so it’s so good to see you again, Doug, and I’m going to ask you the question I asked all of our guests, Who are you? And what are you putting out into the world?
Doug Friedman 1:45
Well, well, that who are you that’s that’s the deep one that will take me back to my philosophy classes in college. I’ll just go with what I’m putting out in the world. I’m the therapy podcast, for me is one that I got very passionate about, because I am passionate about therapy. I think all of us are. You’d have to be to go into this line of work and just personal growth. And there’s something about the stigma of what it is to be in therapy or be a therapist, that has always bothered me, because personal growth is something I think we can all be committed to and can be a wonderful thing. The idea that therapy is only when something’s wrong, is inaccurate. And I think what’s out there in social media are a lot of sound bites, and a lot of you know, self help things that are packaged wonderfully, but it’s doesn’t really give you a feel for what therapy is. So I really wanted to put out what therapy is at least with me with a client. So, you get to follow along through his sessions. And it’s so far first season was six months of therapy with one person. So you really get to follow along for the arc of it and see what it’s like and see what therapists sound like my co-host is also a therapist, and the two of us have known each other forever. So you get to hear what therapists sound like outside of the office, which I think is something people wonder about and never really know, and sometimes don’t even want to know.
Katie Vernoy 3:12
Curt Widhalm 3:14
Oh, and I think that, on that note, as far as what what therapists should be or what therapists think that people should think about them kind of leads to the question that we have moved up early in the episodes in for a learning point is What a therapist often get wrong? As you’ve been around in the field for a while, that…
Doug Friedman 3:37
Curt Widhalm 3:37
If we can share some of the mistakes that we’ve done or seen that can help other people from making some of those same mistakes. What do therapists get wrong?
Doug Friedman 3:47
It’s a great question. And I think the answer is in your question. If you can look at that, and ask that, then you’re not getting anything wrong. It’s about learning from constantly evolving. If you can do that, as a therapist, I think you’re ahead of the game. That that’s, that’s getting it right. When I see therapists hold a modality or a theory so rigidly and they can’t bring either their personality or themselves to it. And they can only use that structure and nothing else. That to me is fairly limiting. It can still be effective, especially if you’re following an evidence based practice where there is a certain model you have 16 weeks and you follow it this way. It’s fine. You know, it works. But I think as a as a therapist, your question was, what do therapists get wrong? Not what is wrong with a modality. And I think it’s the inability to look at yourself and self reflect and grow as a therapist. If you can do that. It’s not about making mistake, it’s about learning.
Katie Vernoy 4:48
That’s, I think that’s that’s so powerful because I think oftentimes, when people move into an area of I’m, I’m an expert or I should be an expert. And we’re, you know, masters or above professionals, typically, I guess there’s different requirements in different countries. But generally we’re, we’re well educated and certified and licensed and those types of things. And I think there’s, to me, kind of this, I’m gonna use the cliche, the imposter syndrome that can come up where people then feel like they have to be perfect. And they can’t question themselves. They can’t, they can’t go to a place of what have I been doing wrong, whether it’s a fear of liability, or even just a fear of not being good enough, right? And so the the way you answered this question just leads me to like, well, of course, you would answer that way, because you’re willing to put it all out in front of everyone, and being a therapist, with a big audience, you know. And so, I when you were talking about kind of decreasing stigma and identifying you my words, not yours, but like in identifying how therapy is actually done and how therapists talk about therapy. It’s a beautiful concept, but in reality, it means you’re out swinging in the wind.
Doug Friedman 6:14
Katie Vernoy 6:15
So how did you come up with this idea? Because it sounds so vulnerable to be an a therapist, who is a human with with flaws and imperfections, and even the way that you do it is like you and Meredith, start breaking it down and talking about it. And she’s like, Oh, I would have done a different, you know, whatever it is, like, it seems to me that there’s a huge vulnerability and a willingness to look at yourself. How did you do that? How did you come up with that?
Doug Friedman 6:44
I’d love to take full credit for that. Maybe it’s part of my journey, I was raised by a therapist, Mom. I don’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. But it’s something where I have a performance arts background, I was a musician and an actor. So being on display, when you’re somebody else, as an actor was fine. When it was me as a musician, it was very personal and vulnerable. And to me, therapy is almost an extension of that. I’m not necessarily performing. But to a degree, where we’re in the room with the client. I think being a little bit eclectic, and creative in the moment is wonderful. It’s what, it’s what keeps me going as a therapist. And to use that and show people that you can use that, not just holding a modality or theory, sacred is what I wanted to put out and show people. And to be clear, you’re hearing me with one client right now. We’re hoping to bring in other clients and give people different tastes because I sound different with different clients. I don’t necessarily use a whole different modality. It’s the same conversational style that I think you guys, at least from your podcast you seem to have. I would assume that your work is similar. And that’s what resonates with people. So for me at the core of this podcast is, is it serving the client? And what I love is talking to some of my friends that happen to be therapists. And they’ll say, Yeah, I heard you, you leading him this way, instead of letting him find this. It worked. But I would have done this. I love that. I love hearing that from from people. I don’t think it’s anything I did wrong. To go back to what you were asking Curt, I think it’s something that I can learn from, and recognize, and it happens to work for this client, and it works fairly well. So putting that on display. Honestly, I think we should all do that. I don’t know that it would be that compelling for people to listen to. I think if we just sort of open it up. I’ve heard stories from clients, I wonder if you guys have too where they come in and go, Gosh, my last therapist wasn’t like this at all. They were like this. And I thought I was doing it wrong. And it bothers me so much. And I just the idea that there are so many different therapists out there. What I’m putting out there is therapy with me and this client, not this is how therapy should be done. Right?
Katie Vernoy 9:04
Curt Widhalm 9:05
Is the resident law and ethics, co host on our podcast, I know that there’s a lot of questions that come up with how are you managing this relationship? And I know that you’ve you’ve used the pseudonym Andrew with the the client that you’ve been working with on your show, right? How do you handle the issues around the confidentiality, the extra dual relationships that having your audience preview into his life not get in the way of the therapy and the productive goals that you’re working on with him?
Doug Friedman 9:41
Yeah, it’s not as hard as you think. Or maybe it is, I don’t know. The confidentiality part was fairly easy if you think of a getting a release for a client to do video or audio. You know…
Curt Widhalm 9:54
I imagine that that release is just kind of like I’m going to share this with everybody against everything for everywhere.
Doug Friedman 10:01
And you’re right. Right. And there’s nothing you can do about it, which is not true. There is something he can do about it. And I’ve told him this. I nearly say it every week, every week before we start the session, we’ll chitchat for a minute. And I’ll say, Are you cool if I record? You still want to do this? If at any point, he says, No, it’s over. And that’s, that’s something that to me, again, it’s about the client, right? But before I even sat down to record and do the podcast, I called NASW, and the CAMFT’s legal and ethics departments and talked to them about it. And they were pretty open about well, you can record it for educational purposes. And as long as the client is consenting, and knows what’s happening, there’s no issue there. You’re okay. So, I was just very open with the client and screening for the client, which is a question some of our listeners had, like, how did you find this client? I had a few clients that were interested in recording and being podcast, one of whom was fairly well known. And I said, No, because the confidentiality would not be there, it wouldn’t be in place. And it would be a different kind of show if it was me doing therapy with, you know, I don’t know George Clooney.
Katie Vernoy 11:13
Doug Friedman 11:14
And who was not the one I’m talking about. Then it’s a different show entirely. And there is no confidentiality because people know exactly who that is. So anything that has come up with the client that would identify him, we take out in editing, anything that he’s not comfortable with, he would take out. We did one episode early on, where he talked about his tattoos and what they mean to him. And we cut that out of the actual session that we had. Then later, he said, You know, I actually liked that. I’m cool with that being out there. So we did a kind of a bonus clip of just talking about his his tattoos. So it’s really guided by him and what he wants to do and what he’s comfortable with. Right?
Katie Vernoy 12:00
Does he listen to the podcast?
Doug Friedman 12:03
He did at first. And I think his his big fear in the beginning was that his mom would hear the podcast. And he’s got a history with Mom, there’s some family issues, and they were fairly unresolved. So having it be broadcast for him, was very scary. He was nervous, he realized there’s no way his mom is going to find the podcast, there’s no way. It just would not happen unless he told her, and he hasn’t. So even his friends don’t know that it’s happening. He’s told one friend, because he was proud of it, and wanted the friend to hear it. And that was pretty cool for him. And he’s heard I, I’d say a handful of the first few sessions, just as it was novelty. And then he wasn’t that interested in going back through it because he was living his own life and doing his own thing. But he’ll ask me about certain things in terms of the chronology where we are in the podcast, where we are in real life, he gets to look back, and we can relive some certain things. For example, season one ended right before his brother’s wedding. And what he had to work through around that for him, was pretty intense at the time. Now, when he and I are talking, it’s nearly a year passed when the wedding took place. So he can look back and go, Wow, you guys are just putting that one out. Man, I remember what I was like then. And it was this and that Oh, my God, I’ve grown so much. Which, again, is why I think everybody could benefit from having their sessions recorded, or at least in some way, being able to reflect and look back.
Curt Widhalm 13:35
Another aspect that I really like in my approach to learning as a therapist, is this deliberate practice and going back and reviewing your sessions and replaying them rehashing them out. How have you changed as a therapist in your work with Drew? And how have you grown and made adjustments based on what you’re hearing? Because there’s sessions that I hear, there’s sessions that of myself there sessions that I hear from my supervisees that I’m playing with them, that they’re like, Man, I hate the way that I sound. And those are often points, growing points for us, but how have you changed?
Doug Friedman 14:13
Oh, man. I guess I can answer that by saying I haven’t at all and I have tremendously, I think what I was answering you before in saying having that ability to self reflect as a therapist and as a person is a wonderful tool for growth. So I apply that to listening to myself. I think back to when we were in school and we had to do that. I never know if it’s called a one way mirror or a two way mirror but where everybody’s watching you.
Curt Widhalm 14:42
The mirror thing. Yeah.
Doug Friedman 14:43
Right. where everybody’s watching you and listening to you and it’s the most uncomfortable experience. And any new therapist, that therapist in school knows it is so nerve racking and horrible. And the It was no different for me as a performer. Sure, that’s fine. But in the therapy room, it was so uncomfortable. I mean, I was afraid to move, I was afraid to reach for a glass of water and take a drink. I mean, I didn’t want to send any of the wrong messages to anybody. And I think back to how I’ve been over the years as a therapist, and one of the things that’s been constantly evolving is how much more experience I have, an dhow much more comfort I have, in myself as a as a therapist and in the room. I think listening to sessions is a little different for me, because I’m, I’m listening with an editor’s ear. So I’m listening for other things. And I’ve gone past the idea of, I don’t like the sound of my own voice. As a musician that had to get over that pretty quickly, and you’re just listening in a different way. But I will definitely hear things and Meredith will call me out on it like, oh, you said this, I wouldn’t have said that. Like you said, his integrity is good. What do you mean, good? Why are you putting a judgment on it? Like, oh, well, okay. And she goes back to the DBT. I think more of using words like effective and ineffective. And I’ll go oh, that’s, that’s great. Okay. I don’t necessarily hear it myself in a session and go, man, why did I say that? But I have had the experience of wondering why it went a certain direction, and then I will make reference to the direction I could have gone in later in that recording. And I think Oh, good. Good. Phew. Phew. I got through that. Okay, all right. I’m not as bad as I thought. I’m not as bad. And that impostor syndrome, even for me creeps up sometimes do. For sure.
Curt Widhalm 16:36
We almost need a meta episode where we have Meredith listened to this episode.
Doug Friedman 16:45
What’s what’s ironic, is that, okay, so my mom’s a therapist, my wife was a therapist, my best friends are therapists. I, Katie might remember this from when we work together in the clinic. I hated talking clinically. I hated going to any sort of trainings, I don’t read therapy books, I don’t like it. And for some reason, it’s just crept into this is how I think and this is what I talk about, and it is what I absorb and discuss all the time. It’s wild.
Katie Vernoy 17:15
That’s so funny. Yeah. It’s interesting that you’re talking about hating the mirror thing. And you’ve basically created that as your podcast.
Doug Friedman 17:27
Totally. We go, you lean into the fear. That’s the one thing I’ve learned: lean into it.
Katie Vernoy 17:33
So we’ve mentioned, Meredith, who is your co host, and and you told her, you’ve known her for 30 years.
Doug Friedman 17:40
Katie Vernoy 17:41
How did this get started? And how is it? What’s it like working with someone that you’ve known that long, in that way?
Doug Friedman 17:49
Yeah. And, you know, I guess if we’re technical, it’s probably closer to 35 years, but we’ll go with 30.
Katie Vernoy 17:56
All right, all right.
Curt Widhalm 17:58
I have a feeling that Katie’s asking this just to preview what our relationships gonna be like.
Doug Friedman 18:05
How did you guys meet? How did you guys start?
Katie Vernoy 18:07
But it’s not 30 years.
Doug Friedman 18:10
Feels like it.
Katie Vernoy 18:11
Yes, yes, it does.
Doug Friedman 18:15
You know, I think it’s something that I think you guys experienced it the rapport that you have with somebody that you know, well, and that you trust, and that is at the core. I think we mentioned on a recent episode that the podcast idea was one that my wife and I had had, and she had passed away. But we had tried to come up with different incarnations of a podcast. And it was based on the fact that we could talk therapy, we had witty banter, and we could call each other out on things coming from a place of love. And it wasn’t from a place of harsh criticism, you know, and, and it was inquiry. And, oddly, my sister said, why don’t you do it with Meredith. Because she knows Meredith as well. And I just kind of went, No. Meredith it can be unfiltered, sometimes impulsive, abrasive, and very thoughtful. She’s one of the smartest people I know. But at the core of it is a love that we have for one another. And she can be that way with me. She can literally say to me, like you said this to Drew, what the fuck was that?
Curt Widhalm 19:22
It’s the internet. You can cuss.
Doug Friedman 19:24
Okay. Now you get the little explicit E on your podcast.
Curt Widhalm 19:29
Katie Vernoy 19:30
Doug Friedman 19:32
Yeah. Meredith will love that the only time I cursed was when I was channeling her. Right. And it’s something that when she when a colleague says that to me that I don’t know very well. If they said that. Why did you do that? I would instantly like get defensive or like it would take me a moment to lean into, Oh, we’re just having a discussion about this. But with Meredith and our history, and the way we are, I know where she’s coming from and it’s okay and we can clash and we can disagree on things. We happen to agree on a lot, which isn’t the greatest for making a compelling podcast. But I think we disagree on enough that it keeps it going. I don’t know for you guys if you guys have clashed and if you clash, and it’s okay because you have a relationship.
Curt Widhalm 20:18
I think Team Curt is still winning. But…
Katie Vernoy 20:20
No, Team Katie is definitely winning. I’ve got way more people on the Team Katie. True. Well, though, I think that we actually, purposely have made sure that we fully identify our our perspectives, because early on, we were agreeing a lot, and it was super boring. And I was like, why am I agreeing with you? Like some of it, I do. But like, I’m just kind of like, playing small or like he was agreeing with me and wouldn’t call me out on stuff or like, Wait a second. So…
Doug Friedman 20:50
Katie Vernoy 20:51
So, there’s been there have been some episodes that were that we needed to have a timeout, and then come back and talk to each other afterwards.
Doug Friedman 20:58
Yep. Yeah. And we’ve gotten some feedback from listeners kind of going, Why does Meredith always agree with Doug? And Meredith answered that one, when we did a mailbag episode, she went, Cause he’s amazing. Like, no, call me out. After that, for the next two weeks, she made it a point to like, find things she could disagree with. Which I thought was interesting. What’s more interesting to me is when we have people on the show, we’ve done two roundtable episodes with two other therapists. And we have different approaches. So having people from a different approach talk and sort of look at a break down or look at like, an issue that that had come up is really interesting to me. In fact, some of the most interesting discussions we’ve had are when we cut the the roundtable episode when we’re done recording, and just the four of us are talking and we just…
Katie Vernoy 21:47
Doug Friedman 21:48
You know, and I, every time think, Man, I should have just kept recording, because this is really cool. This is where you get to hear difference of opinion and difference of things. And people are more comfortable when the red light is off. And the mic is not recording and they can speak more freely, right?
Katie Vernoy 22:03
Yeah. Yeah, I think we’ve had some of those where we keep talking after the record, we’ve both stopped recording. And I’m like, Oh, this would have been so juicy to put right into that podcast episode. So…
Doug Friedman 22:14
Let me ask you guys something because it’s something that I take for granted that I went to a performing arts high school I was I’ve been, you know, acting and playing music and had mics in front of me for 30-35 years. Meredith had never had a microphone in front of her before we started. And she just wasn’t comfortable with this. I wonder for you guys, what it’s been like, because I mean, we are podcasting. It’s something that’s happening much more prominently now for a lot of people. But being a therapist, we’re used to just talking in a room with somebody or if you’re lecturing or leading a group supervision. But for you guys, how is the transition to having a mic in front of you and talking, being recorded? And doing this this way?
Curt Widhalm 22:58
Well, Katie was an actor in training.
Katie Vernoy 23:02
Yeah, I was a theater major. Theater psychology double major. So for me, it was not a big deal. But but I haven’t asked this question of Curt, how was it for you?
Curt Widhalm 23:13
So I grew up doing a lot of public speaking. And this started when I was really young, like 8, 9, 10 years old, I was giving speeches to the Montana legislature funding the 4-H program. And so I grew up with microphones and live audiences and large audiences. When I was in high school, I think was my first like, speech in front of a thousand person audience. So…
Doug Friedman 23:41
Katie Vernoy 23:41
Curt Widhalm 23:42
I have always been comfortable in front of people and re-finding myself. So it almost kind of the the reverse way, podcasting was almost kind of a, we’re talking to lots of people, but there’s only one person that we’re talking to…
Katie Vernoy 23:58
Curt Widhalm 23:58
Or two people if we have guests. That that was a little bit harder of the transition for me.
Doug Friedman 24:03
Katie Vernoy 24:04
Well, and like what you were saying, Doug, I think the the issue for me was I had done mostly acting. I did some singing as well and especially in high school in college, I did less. But it’s, it’s really easy if you’re playing a role. And you have lines.
Doug Friedman 24:22
Katie Vernoy 24:23
But I, but when I actually when I was at the clinic, and I ended up kind of running a lot of meetings and doing stuff as a director at the at the end, I had to learn how to speak in front of a large group of people a lot. So so I had finally gotten over kind of fear around public speaking. I guess that’s one of the good things the clinic gave me. But yeah, so I think it was it feels like it’s been fairly natural. I think the the question I have related to you and Meredith and kind of having that transition, you know, with the recording and creating that content, it seems like there are a number of different places where there could be challenges. You’ve got the client session and the client could balk or have so much identifying information, it becomes almost unusable. You’ve got, you know, the breakdown. And you and Meredith talking, there’s the editing, there’s, you know, kind of sorting through like, it seems to me like, it just feels harder than what Curt and I are doing so.
Doug Friedman 25:29
Very, very poorly in the beginning. I was overwhelmed with how much I was doing. And it was sickening how many times I would listen to an episode, which consisted of the intro that Meredith and I do, the session and the outro that we do. And trying to edit it going through, going through it with a transcript, like listening to it, having the transcript it was, it was brutal. I listened to an episode maybe three or four times before it actually got done. And that was way too much. So I put together a team, we have an audio engineer, you know, she’s had to go through NDAs and confidentiality as well. And the client was comfortable with that. Going back to the law and ethics issue.
Katie Vernoy 26:15
Doug Friedman 26:15
You know, now we’ve got a pretty good flow and a pretty good rhythm. It’s, it’s interesting now to me that I’ll hear an episode right before Meredith, and I record, and it’s from six months or a year ago. So it’s really interesting to then hear what I was doing back in that time. And I go through it, and Meredith and I, you know, we’ll do our intro and do the outro and the breakdown, and then it’s in the hands of an audio engineer. So I don’t have anything to do with that part. I’ll give it one more listen through to make sure any identifiers were taken out. But I do that in one pass before that. So there’s, there is a lot of work, it takes a lot of work. And it’s something that I’m very passionate about, I would have to be because there is no money in it. It is actually costing me money. At some point, maybe will people have said like, where’s the merch? I want the t-shirt? Like, okay, yeah, we’ll probably put that out, too. But it’s, it becomes a machine. And it’s when it’s well oiled is wonderful. When it’s squeaky, it’s tough, and you just want to get out of the machine and not have anything to do with it. So it’s, it’s been a passion project and very difficult. I don’t recommend doing necessarily a podcast this way to anybody. But I would say if you are interested in putting something out there, absolutely do it and find a way that works for you. I will say too that part of doing this podcast this way, one of the things that I thought of that was an inspiration for it was Esther Perel’s podcast, which I think is fantastic. It is heavily heavily produced. It is one session one time with a client and she cuts it and edits it and talks and intersperses her own talking throughout the the episode. I wanted to do something that was more authentic, that was just playing to not necessarily my strength, but playing through what I already do, which is sessions with a client. So it really was just finding the right client, being able to do with him. And then everything else was very difficult in the beginning, just to find the flow and the rhythm and it’s become easier. I would not say it’s easy. But it’s it’s very rewarding when I hear the feedback that we’re getting.
Curt Widhalm 28:31
One of the ways that you go about your podcast, you talked about kind of the professional evaluation of you. But as compared to Katie and my relationship, where when we talk about ourselves on the practice, when we talk about ourselves on the podcast, it tends to be about our practices, or it tends to be about how we represent ourselves professionally in the community. Your Podcast also tends to look a little bit more at you as a person too. And some of the ways that your personal life is inter-weaved in and out. How has that been for you over the duration of your show? Of potentially having people see both his professional side of you as well as the personal side of you in a way that Katie and I really don’t do here.
Doug Friedman 29:19
Yeah, that’s something where I guess I’m pretty open and vulnerable as it is. So I’m okay and comfortable with that. Some people would not be. And I think that’s sort of breaking down what it is to be a therapist. I don’t like therapists that just kind of are that wall where you don’t know anything about them.
Katie Vernoy 29:37
Doug Friedman 29:37
And they stick to something like I said before, rigidly. Like, I think the nature of our podcast. Yeah. Meredith and I are giving you a sense of our personalities. And it’s part of what we wanted to do and show that therapists are people too. The idea that they’re the experts, you know, Katie, you mentioned that earlier and I think when I think of us as experts and what I’ve told my my interns that I’ve had before in the past is that clients are coming to you knowing that you’re an expert. Knowing that if you don’t know the answer, you have the tools to find the answer. You’ll either pick up a book, consult with somebody else, find an answer and come back to them with a direction to go to. The mistake that I think going back to Curt’s earlier question some therapists make is that they have to have the right answer in the room at the right time. That’s not true. Being an expert doesn’t mean you know everything right there at your fingertips, it means you have the ability to find the thing that’s going to help the person and it might not be in the room in that moment. But over the course of treatment, it’s going to be there. I don’t know if that answers the question about putting myself on display, but we’ll go with it.
Katie Vernoy 30:42
Well, it kind of leads to another question I have, because I know, obviously, there’s Drew, who is having his therapy as a podcast. Clearly there are other clients who may be also listening. And I always I’m always curious about kind of, if my clients are listening, I know I’ve been on other people’s podcasts. And I’ve had like, Oh, I heard you on this other podcast. I was like, oh, okay. But thinking about that, and kind of how clients are getting this window, not only into what Curt was talking about kind of your personal life, I recently listened to your This is Us episode. And there’s a lot of personal information there. But they’re also hearing you work with someone else, like have you had any clients have a response to that? Because it’d be like, Well, you don’t do that with me, or you know, those kinds of things. Like do you have any of that?
Doug Friedman 31:39
Yep. Fantastic question. I love that one. And that’s one that I thought of, in fact, in the same way that Drew was nervous about having his mom, listen, I was almost nervous with, you know, the dozen or so 20 clients that I have, like, what are they going to think? What are they going to say? Because I have a relationship with them. I’ve had one client say, I don’t think I can listen to it. I mean, I want you for myself. It’s almost that idea of I don’t want to know that you have any other clients, but me which were the hour or 50 minutes that I’m talking to you, nobody else exists. So, I understand that. I do have several clients that have found the podcast, I don’t necessarily promote it to my clients at all. If they find it, or they ask about it, great. The ones that listen, they love it, they love that it reinforces they feel like they’re getting a bonus, you know, therapy session every week, and they hear objectively how someone else is going through something and working on something that maybe we’ve worked on. But they have a subjective experience for themselves. They can look at it objectively with someone else. So they, they love it. They’ll they know some of the stories that I’ve told, Drew, they know, some of the analogies that I use, and they like it because it reinforces it. You know, especially for some clients, you know, like to take notes during a session, right? They like to like write things down and remember things. This is a way that current clients of mine can get that without having to actually write notes and do the work.
Curt Widhalm 33:05
What’s been the most surprising part of your process so far?
Doug Friedman 33:09
I would say actually it has nothing to do with therapy. But a couple of friends that I have in LA that I met our dogs became friends and we hike together and they’re they’re from Minnesota, and being in LA. They were at a dinner party and they were talking about podcast and somebody had mentioned our podcast and they said oh we know that guy like he’s he’s a friend of ours, we hike with him. And then the next week when we got together it’s a husband and wife and their dog and the wife said wow, you’re like the most famous person we’ve met in LA. I’m not famous. Remotely famous. I grew up in LA around famous people. I know famous. I am not that at all. But for them it was something like Oh, there’s this public persona that you have that’s that’s different. So that to me surprised me because I never thought that I honestly didn’t think that many people would be listening. Grateful that they are but the thought that it might be mentioned at a dinner party somewhere is very surprising and ridiculous and wonderful.
Curt Widhalm 34:20
Our guest today is Doug Friedman. Where can people find out more about you your practice and your show?
Doug Friedman 34:29
I am everywhere. On the web, you can find me. The the podcast is called Your Mental Breakdown. So we’re at yourmentalbreakdown.com We’re on all the social medias if you put that in, you’ll find it. My private practice is called Clear Mind Full Heart. You can find that on the web, clearmindfullheart.com.
Curt Widhalm 34:52
We will include links to all of that in our show notes. You can find those at mtsgpodcast.com. And until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy and Doug Friedman.
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