Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Top Ten Most Hated Therapy Phrases

And they are, in no particular order,

1. Not to discount your emotions or anything, but…
2. Is what we’re talking about triggering you?
3. Let’s just call a spade a spade.
4. Are you feeling unsafe right now?
5. Your body language is telling me you’re uncomfortable.
6. Why do you hate saying the word ‘vagina?’ (Well, durrr. Who likes hard I’s?)
7. Are you engaging in negative behaviors?
8. I feel like I’m being verbally attacked.
9. You just need to listen to your body.
10. I don’t think some of your thoughts have been properly integrated.

Yikers. You know you’ve been in therapy for awhile when you begin to loathe every therapeutic term out there, which I have bolded. In Real Life, wouldn’t we say something like this?

1. I don’t want to make you feel bad, but…
2. Do you not like what I’m saying?
3. Let’s be straight.
4. Dude, are you okay?
5. Are you uncomfortable?
6. Just call it Virginia. Or in my case, Buuurginia.
7. Are you restricting/purging/self-harming/becoming attracted to your dog again?
8. Shutup you’re making me mad.
9. Are you hungry or tired or what?
10. I think you have the emotional tolerance of an 8 year old.

Gah! Last night Big B was a little stressed, and I literally said #1 to him. The therapeutic #1, not the regular people #1, and OMG it stressed me out. What am I becoming? If I ever use such phrases in Blog Land, feel free to slap me. Well, rhetorically, at least.

Which is your least favorite? OR, Heaven help you, favorite?


Pattie Cordova said...


Let's just call a spade a spade because your body language is telling me you're uncomfortable. The words you're saying as you're reading this comment is making me feel like I'm being verbally attacked. Please rephrase them because I don't think some of your thoughts have been properly integrated. Not that I'm discounting your emotions or anything...


brie said...

ahaha pattie you had me cackling! thanks so much for the comment. ;)

HAFC said...

Okay, so I actually own that money bank thing with the girl with fire on it. I always put my change in it...I must have several dollars in there of coins! I loooooved it, b/c it so reminded me of myself (in a "dark" way).

Anyway, I too loath those therapeutic'd think after all these years, they'd learn to just say normal things, like what you listed below. These blech phrases seem to be engrained in their heads I think.

My #1 least favorite phrase is "Okay, Heather, I hear you, but a spade's a spade, you can't ignore the obvious."

My #2 is: "I feel as if we're in a slump, what do you think we can do to get out of it?"

My #3 is: "Combat those negative thoughts and do thought stopping!"

My #4 is: "I don't feel like you're ready for _____ yet."

My #5 is: "I'm concerned about your safety right now. I'd like you to sign a contract that you won't engage in self-injury."

My #6 is: "I think we need to make a contract about this issue."

I don't think they realize how much they sound like robots from some therapy cult where some unknown force hardwired their brains and mouths to say these things on a daily/weekly basis.

Last year at work, I was just sitting and taking some notes, when a first grade girl came up to me, sat down, and very seriously said, "So, Heather, tell me about your childhood."

Then, this year, a first grade boy said, "Uh, Heather? You're looking kinda aggravated (I think he meant frustrated). Do you need to talk about your feelings on the 'Peace Mat' and get it off your chest? I'm a very good listener."

It's so funny when they do things like that! I secretly laugh to myself in the bathroom later on! They just seem like mini-adult-therapists, and it's a bit disconcerting, to say the least, but also very precious.

Sarah said...

I no joke had a therapist say to me on session 1, "so tell me about your wound."

I was like, "what?"

She said, "your wound. There is always some deep hurt that has been inflicted on a person to drive their negative behaviors. You've been to therapy before, so I know you've figured it out."

I just calmly stated "I really tend to believe more in biological causes for AN." Implying: MORON.

Laura said...

I have to admit, I like it when Dr Phil asks someone, "And how's that working for you?"

Sarah said...

Mine that urks me is "I get this feeling at times you avoid talking about what's going on with you, possibly protecting it."

wtf? sometimes I honestly have nothing to say, but it looks to my therapist as though Im harboring emotions. Fun fun.

brie said...

Ooh! I'm so DELIGHTED with all these comments! I needed this happiness today. I love laughing! ;)

Kara said...

Love this post!!

bananas said...

Wow. My therapist talks to me like a normal person 99% of the time! I love it. She even said "fuck" today. She's awesome.

maerlyn said...

I'm also very fond of Dr Phil's "and how's that working for you?"

And now back to lurking, thanks for a really interesting blog :)

lisalisa said...

My #1 all-time least favorite phrase is when my therapist says to me, in regards to a stressful problem that i'm having a difficult time dealing with, "Ok, Lisa, what SKILLS have you used?"
What the H? What is she even talking about? Bowstaff skills? Cagefighting skills? Sheesh!

lisalisa said...

My #1 all-time least favorite phrase is when my therapist says to me, in regards to a stressful problem that i'm having a difficult time dealing with, "Ok, Lisa, what SKILLS have you used?"
What the H? What is she even talking about? Bowstaff skills? Cagefighting skills? Sheesh!

Åsa Schrader said...

I like when Dr. Phil says "Well, if you're so smart, how come your life/marriage (isert issue) is in the ditch right now?".

I HATE when they say "That's your eating disorder talking". Damn. No it's not, it's ME!

brie said...

Asa, I agree: "That's your eating disorder talking" is realllly bad. I forgot to put it on my top 10!

Jamie said...

My least favourite is "How does that make you feel?..." God. I hate it. I mean come's terrible. Haha.

But I agree with Asa too, I hate "that's your eating disorder talking" as well, Even my mum pulls that one on me often. And then says after that "I want to talk to you, not it". So annoying! lol

hutchbec said...

I personally hate "Do you WANT to be feeling this way?"

It's like, uhm, well, 1) I probably wouldn't be talking about it if I WANTED to be feeling this way, 2) it's not really a want/don't want sort of thing in my mind, it just is how it is, and 3) do you think by being brilliant and having me realize I don't "want" to feel this way that I'll suddenly choose to STOP feeling this way? Like, oh yea! You're right - not something I want, so poof, loneliness gone.

Now I just feel ashamed of not being motivated enough to have done whatever it was I was supposed to do to not feel this way, angry at myself for saying it aloud as if I'd kept it silent I wouldn't be now feeling ashamed about it, and to top it off, I Still Feel This Way.

Lisa said...

Love love love this post and comments. My very first visit with my pdoc, I was waffling on saying I had an eating disorder and she said, "Oohh yes you do. Let's call a spade a spade."

Usually she just lets me ramble on and on.

Keely said...

My therapist talks like a regular person. Thank God. I had one therapist that talked to me like I was 5. She was like "keely, where is your monkey mind? (meaning what are you thinking about.) Is it here? Is it inside you? Where is it Keely?" I was just thinking seriously?

Penny said...

Just loved post, Brie. I got to laugh out loud too!

Krista said...

We all know E loves to say "bring it back!"

This was a great post.

Kyla said...

"That's not a feeling, that's a thought." I second, "What skills did you use?" "That's a distortion." "Let's celebrate your victories." "You seem to wax and wane." "How can you stay present?" "Is it just me, or did the energy in the room drop?" "It's just like what you learned at the Center for...Center for...Center for...what was it called again?" "How does (insert behavior here) serve you?" "That's a very unhealthy relationship." "How can you create boundaries?" I"m sure there are lots more...

Telstaar said...

Oh my goodness, this is so so funny. I am soooo gonna dream about this as I go to sleep.

I think my least favourite is "That is your eating disorder talking"..... Maybe they need to diagnose us with split personalities AND eating disorders as apparently by their own terminology we have both!!!! Humm!!!!

Oooh soo funny (comments, not mine)....

Going to sleep now to have nice therapeutically orientated amusing dreams :)


Brooke said...

One of my favorites that I hear at work from my girls are that they feel "emotionally or physically unsafe." What the heck. Ahh..I'm not a therapist. But, do know that the girls take these phrases that therapists use and integrate them into the vocab and over-use them.

Not good. Bad. Ahhh...Sorry you are frustrated.

alriggells said...

So I am super late, but oh well. So I have to say, you know that picture of the piggy bank you have on your post, well I bought that when I was in Cali and gave it to W, my it. And phrases I hate, "You are not as inept as you play out to be," "What are you trying to say with those behaviors," "Can you keep that contract with me," "Here we go again, debate practice," and "What is it that you are dancing around instead of going through?"

sarah said...

so i am a little late on this one, but i love it! i have been lurking for a while, but this one definitely prompted me to come down and comment.
the one i hate the most that i seem to be hearing a lot lately is ... "tell me what your ED voice is telling you, and then tell me what the healthy, vibrant sarah is telling you" ... yuck!!!
sometimes i get so stuck on those phrases and how annoying they are that i cannot even focus on the issue at hand.
thanks for this post! needed a smile this morning :)

Ella said...
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