“Content therapy.” It’s a term we made up, but if you work in content marketing, it’s something you’ve probably done.

There’s always an element of emotion in creative work. When you’re helping people work through big ideas, the conversation feels personal. We think of “content therapy” as the messy, emotional process of digging up those big ideas.

On this episode of Margins, Mary Ellen and I turn the tables on ourselves for our own content therapy session. We unpack just what content therapy means, how we can set boundaries with creative clients, and how we can take care of ourselves to be the best possible creative sounding boards.

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Embrace the ‘Touchy-Feely Crap’

Gloria West is a senior consultant and executive coach at Success Labs.

Her work often involves helping people build soft skills — what a client once dubbed “the touchy-feely crap.” But while we often think of soft skills as traits that are inherent, Gloria disagrees. “We think about people being born a certain way. And maybe they are,” she says. “But that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to be better at the ‘touchy-feely crap.’ ”

Gloria says she attempts to show her clients that soft skills can be actionable. “It’s about what you do,” she says. An example she uses is training people to become better listeners. If you are impatient and tend to interrupt people, you can attempt to be quiet for the first five minutes of a conversation. Or, you can force yourself to put your phone away during important conversations so you don’t get distracted. Either way, developing that listening skill — or any other — boils down to taking action:

“Whatever it is that’s getting in your way of being a good listener, remove that and do something different.”

Define Your Boundaries

Racheal Hebert is a therapist, licensed clinical social worker and the CEO of Baton Rouge-based nonprofit Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response.

Racheal juggles quite a few professional roles. With the lines blurring between our personal and professional lives more than ever, she has learned that it’s essential to develop boundaries between those two lives. “For me, healthy boundaries means developing a sense of self that is separate from my work,” Racheal says.

Just as Rachael has multiple jobs, marketers often play different roles with each client. Sometimes we have to be a reporter, and sometimes we have to be a content therapist. Sometimes we just have to be there for a client to vent. Or, you may bounce between being a creative “maker” and a people-focused “manager.” To better transition between between roles, Rachael recommends finding rituals that can help you get into a new headspace. Maybe it’s just taking a break or going for a walk. It can also just be finding a few seconds for yourself:

“It can be as simple as taking a couple of deep breaths.”

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

This episode marks the end of our first season of Margins by Managing Editor. You can listen to the full season here. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please share with your friends and co-workers and leave us a rating or review in iTunes!

We’ll be back in the fall of 2019.