Why are we all adopting therapy-speak?


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With terms such as “triggered” and “trauma” fast becoming part of our collective vocabulary, Stylist explores what’s behind the rise in language usually reserved for the therapist’s couch.

Lately, you might have noticed clinical-sounding speech is showing up everywhere. You could be in a brainstorming session at work when you’re told it’s a “safe space”. Or, perhaps, you’ve been invited to “nurture your inner child” as you squirm in downward dog during a yoga class? Maybe a friend has told you they’re worried about their “avoidant attachment style”? A phrase you’ve had to take your phone out and google.

‘Therapy-speak’ (language usually reserved for a psychologist’s office) has infiltrated our everyday conversations: where we were once “pissed off” or “hurt”, we now feel “gaslit” or “triggered”. We “set boundaries” rather than take some alone time. A friend who circles a conversation back to themselves constantly is a “malignant narcissist”.

While it’s often simply hyperbole (being late for a morning meeting on a crammed train will, of course, not bring on actual PTSD), there are also instances where it’s born from a genuine attempt to understand the human experience. But how has this happened? And can it do more harm than good? 

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