Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed forensic psychologist Dr Naomi Murphy about her podcast, Locked Up Living.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m Dr Naomi Murphy, a Consultant Clinical and Forensic Psychologist and Honorary Professor of Psychology at Nottingham Trent University. I’ve spent most of my career working with people in contact with the criminal justice system including within a high secure prison for men for over 17 years but also have a small private practice working with high fliers in business and banking to support them in peak performance.
How and why did you start podcasting?
Lockdown meant I had a lot more time on my hands that I wanted to fill constructively. I was also really aware of how living and working in prisons impacts on the physical and emotional well-being of prisoners and staff and how some of the most innovative and psychologically healthy projects end up being terminated and wanted to explore these themes. I happened to discuss these with a very distant colleague I encountered. What started as an idea for a potential take over of an edition of a journal as guest editors was shaped up into a podcast after we discussed it with a journalist friend of his. We started publishing a weekly podcast in January 2021.
What is your current podcast called, and how did you come up with the name?
It’s called Locked Up Living: we wanted a name that captured our desire to promote ideas that support nourishment and growth within spaces that are more closely associated with loss of hope, fear and decay.
What platforms can we find Locked Up Living on?
We publish on Podbean but are on all major platforms including Apple, Spotify and Google
What is Locked Up Living about?
It’s an exploration of how you move beyond existing to flourishing within a harsh institution. We have had many guests who’ve studied or worked within total institutions (and primarily prisons) but also try to learn from other areas such as leadership within the NHS, corruption within a charity. So we are interested in promoting ideas and work that support growth, well-being and resilience but increasing understanding of things that serve as a barrier to this. We’re very interested in how people and institutions stay or evolve to be at their most healthy as well as what leads to their destruction.
I’m interested in platforming progressive ideas that might struggle to get a voice against a prevailing conservative culture whereas my co-host is very interested in documenting past innovations that didn’t endure because of that same culture even when they may have been considered successful by any other standards.
Do you host Locked Up Living alone, or have guest hosts/partners?
I co-host with David Jones, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist (since 1980) who has a social worker background and is also a social researcher since completing an MSc in SR methods 15 years ago. He has many years experience of working in therapeutic communities within both hospital and prison settings. He is also expert advisor on therapeutic communities in prisons to the Community of Communities (part of Royal College of Psychiatry)
We didn’t really know each other when we started and we have quite different skills, networks and experience but similar values, interests and aims. Getting to work closely with someone new has been a really nice element of the work.
Do you edit Locked Up Living or have someone who does it for you?
We edit ourselves – in all honesty, David does most of this as has mastered the editing technology more easily than I did and enjoys the process more. I focus more heavily on finding and prepping guests.
Do you script Locked Up Living, or just chat as you go?
We always prepare questions in advance. People working within the forensic field are quite worried about saying something that brings them into conflict with the system which can be quite punitive so they like to know we are not going to ask them anything that’s too contentious although they will often advocate passionately for something that challenges the status quo. Also we have had several guests who aren’t used to sharing their thoughts and ideas in such a public way so it helps reduce their anxiety. Of course, in reality, we do go off script and follow other ideas that occur to us during the course of the conversation but by then people are more relaxed and our guests generally really know their stuff.
How has Locked Up Living changed or developed since you began?
Well we had a steep learning curve in terms of our technical skills.
We learned to ensure we balance out each other’s voices so that we both have a presence during each conversation. I think it helps that our voices are both so distinct from each other. But we’ve also got more used to each other’s style and learned when it will be ok to interrupt and when its likely to really hack the other off because their on a roll.
We’ve become bolder about who we will approach for interview – we no longer need to rely on those we already know but have managed to attract some really well-known authors. We’ve changed our vocabulary to be more respectful of people who have previously spent time in prison (using people in prison rather than prisoners for instance) which we know has also impacted on our listeners who have tweeted about changing their own language as a consequence.
We often refer back to previous conversations with new guests and so have established a conversation about emotional literacy that is growing.
Because we are both steeped in the Criminal Justice System in terms of our experience, we’ve been able to draw on this and think about gaps in our own knowledge and follow our own interests alot. However, we are also mindful of making points that new people starting out in the CJS might not often encounter in order to help challenge a very harsh culture.
What are you biggest challenges with Locked Up Living?
Being effective in terms of having an impact and making a difference by contributing to the conversation about how we think about criminal justice especially in a way that promotes social justice and equality; synthesising the project to produce something meaningful and coherent; ensuring we attract new listeners whilst also not alienating the ones who have been following us thus far. We are really proud that we’ve had 7k downloads already but really want to grow this as that will help make a difference.
What are your favourite podcasts to listen to?
Its really hard to choose our favourites as we have been so lucky to have met so many lovely generous spirited people over the last 9 months. There is a great conversation about prison food conducted with Leslie Soble and Roy Waterman, Gerard Drennan on Restorative Justice, Lucy Baldwin discussing mothers in prison – there have been so many really brilliant uplifting conversations though – too many to really choose and I’d probably give you 3 different ones on other days.
I wasn’t sure if you were asking about others we listen to? David doesn’t really listen to podcasts. I love Huberman Lab; Science of Psychotherapy; Ben Greenfield Fitness and Freethinking with Laura Dodsworth.
How and where do you promote Locked Up Living?
We are on Twitter as @LockedUpLiving, Instagram as @lockedupliving and also post to Facebook and LinkedIn. We do have a website although haven’t done enough with this yet – Lockeduplives.com
Do you earn money from podcasting, or is it a hobby?
We do it as a hobby and don’t earn anything so we don’t pay for any editing or technical skills and do it all ourselves to keep costs low.
What’s something you never expected about podcasting? What have you learned that surprised you?
I’ve been blown away by how willing people are to appear as guests and how often they seem to really appreciate and enjoy the opportunity to talk about their work.
I am a self-conscious introvert – I’ve been surprised how easily I’ve been able to adapt to hearing my own voice and how much I’ve come to enjoy these conversations and not cringe when I listen back.
What is the first piece of advice you would give to anyone inspired to start podcasting?
Plan them but then just go for it; know your subject area – it makes finding and appealing to guests very easy; choose guests that you are genuinely interested in so even if no-one else wants to listen, you will have had a conversation that you enjoyed and will be able to stay motivated – this year has been one terrific CPD venture for me – I’d have gained even if we had no listeners….
Record a few before you publish to keep the pressure off and ensure you can take a break when you need.
And, finally, are your proud of what you’re accomplishing with your podcast? Is it worth the effort?
Absolutely – this is one of the best things I’ve engaged in during my working life. I’ve had so many stimulating conversations with so many brilliant people that remind me repeatedly how nice people are. It’s kept me motivated to read (prep for guests) so nourished my brain and kept my learning fresh. It’s also opened new avenues and opportunities to me – that’s not why I started it but it keeps the project intrinsically motivating.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
N. Murphy & D. McVey (2010) “Treating Personality Disorder: Creating robust services for clients with complex mental health needs”
I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Edited two books and numerous chapters and journal papers.
Working with Dangerous people:
I can be contacted at email@example.com