Nina Westbrook is a woman juggling many roles. She is a mother of three, wife to NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook, entrepreneur, licensed marriage and family therapist, and now, she’s adding podcast host to the fold.
She recently launched The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, a show dedicated to uncovering “the secrets of genuine human connection through candid conversations with a lineup of friends, leading experts, and a few of your favorite celebs,” according to the program’s website. Unlike other podcasts, which may focus on romantic relationships, Chronicles provides a more holistic approach.
“We’re talking about everything,” Westbrook tells ESSENCE. “It goes along with my scope as a licensed marriage and family therapist. What we do is help people identify how they work within a system; that could be a relationship with food, it could be a relationship with money, it could be friendships, parenting, it could mean romantic relationships, marriage. There are so many different relationships that we balance throughout our daily lives, so we’re tackling everything, depending on who’s coming on.”
Westbrook, 34, attended UCLA, where she played basketball. Off the court, she studied psychology and has been practicing professionally since she was 20 years old. She says her passion for therapy developed as a result of her own family dynamics.
“You have this feeling or this want to take care of people–whatever that means to you,” Westbrook explains. “For me, that meant, first of all, taking care of myself, being self-sufficient so that my parents could do the things that they needed to do and not feel that I was taking away from them taking care of the household.”
With her independence established, Westbrook became the family member and friend people came to for advice, a listening ear, or a reasonable sounding board.
“I’m so fascinated with the way that we think, our relationships and the way that we communicate with other people, our body language, all of the things that have to do with being a therapist,” she says. “So I just found something that I was already passionate about naturally and pursued that further and I love it.”
Before she started Chronicles, Westbrook worked as a therapist in school settings and community centers before opening a boutique, The Little Ark in Oklahoma, where she hosted a community of women and families. Later, she launched a digital wellness platform, Bene by Nina, and even developed a card game, Do Tell, meant to foster honest conversations. Westbrook’s personal and professional journey eventually led her to podcasting.
“I thrive and love communicating and connecting with people,” she says. “I felt like a podcast would be the next best thing to practicing and holding individual sessions, just because I get to have fun conversations with people and learn about them, the things that make them go and what works well for them in navigating different relationships in their lives. That’s been really fun for me.”
Chronicles features conversations with big names like Gabrielle Union, Kevin Hart, Sophia Roe and even her husband, Russell. The guest list has been carefully curated.
“I really sought after people who were going to be okay sharing their stories and getting beneath the surface with me,” she says.
She further cultivated open communication by allowing her guests to choose the topic they wanted to discuss.
“I have nothing but gratitude for all of my guests because they really were able to take circumstances and situations from their own lives and share helpful tips and tools,” she shares. “People will be able to see a little bit of themselves in each of our stories and episodes. And maybe they’ll be able to take away something that helps them to grow or inspires them.”
But more than the stories, listeners can also glean professional wisdom from the additional experts who will appear on the show.
“A lot of the information is more science-based,” she explains. “It’s not all a matter of opinion. And that’s what makes it different. With the information I’m able to share and with my guests, who are the leading experts in their fields, you’re going to get a lot of tips that are scientifically backed.”
The podcast, as Westbrook describes, is something like edutainment, with a mix of humor, honesty and information. There’s something for everyone, but it’s specifically designed for people who are looking to grow.
“Anyone who is looking to listen in to a meaningful conversation with genuine, open communication, this podcast is for them,” she says. “If you’re a parent looking to navigate the transition from having small children to teenagers; you could be a mom who just had kids and you’re trying to figure out your sex life and how to get that spark back in your relationship because you’re just not feeling it; you could be someone who is changing and growing out of friendships and trying to find new ones; if you’re starting a business. In every episode, there’s something that someone can pick out that they can run with.”
If nothing else, Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook will help people to realize they are not alone in their experiences.
“In our society today, so many of us are feeling so isolated,” she says. “Social media and the idea of being open and vulnerable can seem so scary. But when you sit down with a group of people, you start listening to things outside of the daily tasks. That’s when you get into the storytelling, you get beneath the surface and that is key to connecting with other people.”
She says connection is not to be taken lightly.
“None of us are meant to be alone,” Westbrook explains. “I think humans naturally thrive in groups and community. The more you can be vulnerable and share your stories, the more you’ll connect. Building that community and sharing those stories is totally tied into our mental health and wellness.”
The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook is available now on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.