The Buzzkill Of Therapy Buzzwords
It is everywhere you do not want it to be! And no, I am not referring to microplastics. I am talking about therapy speak. Narcissists, gas-lighting, and boundaries – oh my!
Pop culture is my vice. My guilty pleasure. I know that celebrity gossip is petty. Still, I excel at catching up on the latest hot celebrity news story. I’ve been watching the Kardashian / Jenner clan script reality for longer than I’ve known my spouse. Their show has kept me sane through two of my spouse’s deployments. So when the sisters had a falling out this season and sat down for an intimate (read with the production crew and multiple camera angles) chat to work through their differences, it was glaringly obvious which one of them knows themself and does the work in therapy and which one knows social media buzzwords. Then Jonah Hill’s ex-girlfriend, Sarah Brady, shared text messages exchanged during their relationship, and I felt the proverbial rug being yanked out from under me.
I watched and thoroughly enjoyed Hill’s Netflix Documentary entitled ‘Stutz,’ which stars Hill and his therapist and friend, Phil Stutz.
I even recommended the documentary and discussed it with my therapist. They loved it! So how could a man so invested in therapy and mental health advocacy be accused of getting it wrong? Did his therapist know that Jonah thought you could use the word “boundaries” to control others?
I love that Hollywood has brought awareness to mental health.
Many are advocates for mental health, but in a society that views celebrities as experts, there is a danger in using therapy speak when you do not quite get the concept yourself. Furthermore, the language used in treatment to help grasp an idea is now a part of our everyday vernacular. Those who use it the most to appear the most self-realized often do more harm than good.
Instagram and TikTok have havens for self-realization, making it easy to scroll past something that resonates with you and think, “This is healing.” Therapy is just like everything else, it takes some good old-fashioned work to get through it, and honesty prevails in this workspace. Let’s be honest: therapy can be expensive, and only some have access to a licensed therapist. These social media posts make people feel less alone in their mental health struggles, which is positive. However, these posts are not meant to help you self-diagnose or diagnose someone else. Through this content, therapy speak has become casualized and even weaponized-enabling people to project assumptions about conditions or coping mechanisms that you only slightly understand onto others. How often have you spoken to a friend who cut off another friend because they were “toxic”? We’ve all done it and witnessed it. And often, without a complete understanding of navigating interpersonal relationship repair and mental health issues, we’ve become toxic too.
I thoroughly enjoy some of the content I see on social media platforms. Some of the posts by Dr. Nicole LePera and Dr. Annie Wright have led to some beautiful breakthroughs in my therapy sessions. But, I have a professional in my corner to help redirect me if a concept I share is too far off track. I also trust my therapist to tell me when I am being a problem (cue TSwift, “Anti-Hero”).
Words hold power.
Therapy is about finding the right words to help you be heard and hear those around you. There is no one size fits all approach, no matter what that reel with millions of views tells you.