Franne Sippel and Becky Kuch came up with the idea for Shrink Rap the Podcast during the COVID lockdown of 2020. Many people were struggling with isolation from loved ones and the disruption of their regular routines, and they were no exception.
They realized that if mental health professionals weren’t talking about their mental health, then who would?
“In episode zero, we mention how bad our mental health was during the pandemic,” Kuch said. “Every one of us here has spoken about our struggles. Therapists are not immune to these things either.”
Kuch had always been an avid listener of podcasts, so she was familiar with the concept. Sippel wasn’t sure about the idea at first. “Sometimes Becky gets excited about an idea and moves on from it, but she kept coming back to this one.”
The Shrinks were told to reach out to Brodie Mueller, who was in the process of setting up the Pheasant Canteen, his podcast recording studio. He has a master’s degree in social work, so mental health is a topic he is experienced in as well.
“A lot of other mental health podcasts sounded depressing, but we want people to be able to laugh”. – Becky Kuch
The Shrinks researched which topics would be best to discuss before they officially began recording the podcast. Each episode usually consists of a topic, an outline, sources and references, but Sippel and Kuch’s commentary is organic and happens as they record.
“It took off faster than we could have ever guessed,” Kuch said. “We’ve had a lot of support from all over. We have listeners in 112 countries. Every month we’re amazed to see someone from a new country listening.”
After four seasons and over one hundred episodes, the Shrinks admittedly didn’t expect it to last this long in the beginning. Now the show has had over 127,000 downloads, and growth has been steady ever since.
The Shrinks said that many podcasts don’t even make it to ten episodes. For the two of them, recording episodes has become second nature. They’re just two friends getting together in front of a microphone each week.
Their podcast isn’t a substitute for therapy, but many listeners may benefit from the information provided.
“It’s not therapy, but we do help people learn,” Sippel said. Their podcast offers information and tips on life skills all while destroying stigmas associated with mental health. It’s a perfect blend of entertaining and informative. Sippel said overall, they want people to walk away with something after listening to an episode.
Listeners of the podcast don’t necessarily have to listen to each episode. They can tune in to topics that may be relevant or interesting to them.
There is a little bit of planning that goes into a topic’s air date. The Shrinks have recorded episodes for Men’s Mental Health Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and LGBT Pride Month. Sometimes, when a topic becomes relevant again, they will rerun episodes as they see fit.
“We try our best to plan out our seasons ahead of time, but life happens, and sometimes things get added last minute,” Sippel said.
While every episode explores an important topic, some episodes ended up leaving a bigger impact on the Shrinks than others.
Sippel said that in addition to their co-parenting episode, their episode about transgender issues got a lot of listens. For Kuch, that was their episode on suicide.
“It’s something that has personally impacted me,” she said. “Jamie Jesse Milbrandt’s story on self-harm was also impactful. It was an honor to be a part of that.”
The Shrink Rap podcast has been leaving its mark on people from Aberdeen and beyond as well.
“There has been a lot of good feedback,” Sippel said. “People have suggested topics, there have been client referrals, and a lot of different ways people connect with us.” Sippel also noted that their coparenting episode has been court-ordered by a judge in Aberdeen.
“I have relatives up in Canada, and one of them had their doctor suggest our podcast to help with anxiety,” Kuch said. “There is a lot of support and love in this community. People say ‘it feels like I’m having coffee with you.’”
In June, the Shrinks were interviewed on South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s In the Moment radio show, and they have been keynote speakers for companies, organizations, and universities in the state as well. Overall, South Dakota is beginning to embrace conversations about mental health.
“We have noticed changes,” Kuch said. “Students 20 years ago wouldn’t talk this openly about their mental health struggles.”
“Men are also listening to the show,” Sippel said. “It’s starting to become something that’s talked about more.”
You can find Shrink Rap the Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. //