Therapy-Speak Without the Lessons Of Therapy

As someone with an educational background in counseling, one of the most fascinating subjects to me is the rise in mental health problems, particularly in younger people. It has had my attention for years and occupies even more of my mind share now that the trend has accelerated. Quite a few writers have pondered potential answers about why things are getting worse. Derek Thompson writes for The Atlantic about the various theories attempting to explain teenage anxiety.

Modern internet culture has adopted therapy-speak while repeatedly setting fire to the actual lessons of modern therapy. It’s a bizarre spectacle, like a hospital where fake doctors know the words for every disease but half of the surgeries result in sepsis. In the open expanse of the internet, we could have built any kind of world. We built this one. Why have we done this to ourselves?

It should be no surprise to anyone paying attention that the internet gets a lot of attention in the speculation about this issue. While the problem must be multivariate, technology is certainly playing a part. Alongside the increasing use of technology, the popularization of therapy-speak and the corresponding tendency to pathologize everything has been an interesting phenomenon to watch.1 As with a lot of pop psychology, it seems to come with limited knowledge about the actual fundamentals. In this case, the lack of understanding about what makes therapy effective could be damaging.

  1. As well as sometimes infuriating.↩︎

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