‘This is no longer serving me’: Calling time on ‘therapy speak’

I just don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with it anymore x

In the age of setting boundaries and protecting our peace, the way in which young people are communicating their needs has evolved dramatically. Initially, so-called “therapy speak” was praised for the concise and direct way in which it allowed friends, families and partners to articulate their thoughts and feelings without any risk of being misunderstood.

However, recently people have been speaking out against this way of communicating, arguing that it promotes hostile relationships and sterilises human interaction, reducing it to a set of predefined scripts and etiquettes that don’t take specific relationships and dynamics into account.


So why are people opting for “therapy speak” over a good old-fashioned argument? Arguably it stems from the ongoing wellness trend that seems to have been amplified by social media and TikTok. Perhaps the ability to have these seemingly constructive conversations with our peers makes us feel more secure in ourselves and our ability to stand up for ourselves.


It seems like the natural progression from meditation and green smoothies is extending that wellness onto others by inflicting self important language onto our relationships and making it very clear that we are the bigger person.

So how do you know if someone’s using therapy speak on you?


You may notice your friends eye glaze over slightly as they use phrases like: “I’ve really valued our season of friendship, but it’s no longer serving me”, or “I’m afraid I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to process your trauma dumping”.

Somehow, the idea of “trauma dumping” has been conflated with having any kind of emotional chat with your friends, thereby demonising emotional connection and weakening our connections with our families and friends.

Clinical psychologist Dr Arianna Brandolini uses her platform on TikTok to show people how to have difficult conversations and communicate in a way she deems is more conducive to successful relationships and improved mental health.

However, her short, skit-style videos, which usually demonstrate difficult conversations between two people, have proved controversial, with some arguing that this method is far more hurtful and offensive than a typical argument or confrontation. One commenter on this video about how to break up with a friend, even went so far as to say: “This feels ingenious, grandiose, uncaring and preplanned.”


Here is how you break up with a friend 👍 #mentalhealth #relationships #breakups #friendbreakup #psychology #mentalhealthtips #selfhelptips #psychologist #friendship #healthyrelationships #emotionalhealth #selfesteem #boundaries

♬ original sound – Dr. Arianna Brandolini

Brandolini has defended her videos by arguing that they are only designed to be rough templates and that people should alter the scripts depending on who they are talking to, in order to make them more personal and less like talking to HR. However, some say videos like this promote the widespread use of these kind of impersonal conversations that sterilise our relationships and ignore any kind of emotional nuance, especially when these conversations are being presented as a healthier alternative to normal forms of conflict resolution.

Of course good communication is important in any relationship, but must we all reduce our confrontations with friends and family to condescending, robotic script conversations that do nothing beyond flatter our own egos superiority complexes? I think learning how to exercise constructive and helpful forms of conflict resolution is important for all relationships, but “therapy speak” is certainly not the way to go about this.

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