Claudia Winkleman has launched a new podcast with her good friend and clinical psychologist Professor Tanya Byron. The first episode of How Did We Get Here? deals with estranged parents. Here’s why it is such an important listen to anyone who has a difficult family.
Being estranged from a parent can be incredibly difficult, especially as you grow older. Take it from someone who has personal experience of it. But it’s also a pretty common situation for many families. There are around 1.8 million single parent familes in the UK, and around 90% of these single parents are women. Being in a single-parent family doubles the likelihood of child mental illness and they are more likely to grow up living in poverty.
That’s why the first episode of Claudia Winkleman’s new podcast, How Did We Get Here?, is a fascinating, comforting and essential listen for anyone who grew up with an estranged parent.
In the new podcast, Winkleman introduces guests to her good friend and clinical psychologist Professor Tanya Byron. The “client” sits with Byron as they talk through a specific family difficulty. Winkleman listens in a separate room, and later chats to them about what has been said. It gives an insight into what takes place in a therapy room, using personal stories that many people will relate to.
In the first episode, Jack is a 22-year-old graduate and author who no longer speaks with his dad. He reflects on the relationship they have had since his parents’ separation when he was six years old. When he met his dad twice a month, he would always have an anxious feeling. Jack recalls the abandonment and rejection issues. At one point he says: “My whole life, I’ve never felt worthy.”
Let’s just pause a second so that anyone who relates can go and grab a tissue.
Byron then goes into a therapy session with Jack. “This is one issue in your life where trying to reframe it with positive thinking is just not working for you,” she starts, before Jack continues to explain what he’s going through. “Even though your dad isn’t present in your life, he has a massive presence doesn’t he?” she adds.
Winkleman then pauses the session to catch up with Byron and asks her to break down what’s happened so far. Using her warm wit, Winkelman also reveals that her mascara is running down her face from crying, joking: “Well that’s not unusual”.
One particularly intersting point is when Byron explains systematic theory and how it applies to the thinking of grownup children with estranged parents in relationships. She says: “’I’m going to correct in my script what went wrong with my childhood’. But actually, unwittingly, because of these blueprints that are set down we actually can act out repetitive scripts. So it’s about understanding how we can repeat things even though we desperately want them to be different.”
The episode jumps back into the session, where Byron starts to talk to Jack about acceptance, attachment theories, relationships with lovers and friends, and processing what’s happened. She then dissects what Jack has said, offering an explanation of what was really going on. Jack is stunned with her accuracy and insight, and so is the listener.
Winkleman then has a debrief with Byron about the session, giving suggestions about how Jack can go forward. She also gives tips for listeners who are going through something similar.
The episode ends with Jack reading out a letter to his father.
It’s absolutely fascinating. It’s very emotional. And it’s incredibly powerful. Even if you don’t relate to the issue at hand, it’s still so interesting to listen to the other side of therapy.
Listen to How Did We Get Here? epsiode one
12 episodes will be released weekly from Tuesday 7 January, available on Apple, Spotify, Acast and all podcast providers.