A Woman Claimed Using Over-The-Top 'Therapy-Speak' To Set Boundaries Is Making Us Selfish & People Are Torn

Have we all become a little too accustomed to self-care? Or are people misusing what they've learned in therapy?

Weaponized "Therapy-Speak" text messages, therapist writing in notebook Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock; TikTok; Twitter via Canva Pro

Thanks to TikTok and the current age of social media that the use of technology has ushered us into, anyone with a smartphone and at least one social media platform downloaded is beholden to whatever new thing is “trending,” and at the moment, that’s “weaponized therapy-speak.”

Thanks to a recent article from Bustle, Twitter and TikTok are abuzz with people debating what exactly “therapy-speak” is and how people are weaponizing it.


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The article claims that weaponized ‘therapy-speak’ is making people selfish.

Well, not entirely. The writer claims that weaponized therapy-speak could be making people selfish. More specifically, they write “the emphasis on protecting one’s individual needs can overlook the fact that someone else is on [the] other side of that boundary-setting,” making their need for self-care seem “overzealous,” and therefore, selfish.


They cite stories from people that were broken up with by their friends, or examples of people who have set boundaries with others, and try to dissect whether or not the approach was appropriate or how it may have been selfish — but Twitter had a different idea.

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The tweet that started it all reads “this is horrifying,” and includes a screenshot of the first couple of paragraphs. 


A 24-year-old woman named Anna was being dumped by her friend, who sent a message that read “I’m in a place where I’m trying to honor my needs and act in alignment with what feels right within the scope of my life, and I’m afraid our friendship doesn’t seem to fit in that framework.”

“I can no longer hold the emotional space you’ve wanted me to, and think the support you need is beyond the scope of what I can offer,” she finished, and understandably, this is horrifying. It sounds like an AI-written response, or like an email you send to your boss.

The problem isn’t weaponized ‘therapy-speak,’ the problem is calling this ‘therapy-speak.’

The “HR-ification of friendships,” as someone put it in the Twitter replies, isn’t a result of therapy or therapy-speak, it’s based on what social media’s perception of therapy is.

Dr. Julie Gurner, an Executive Performance Coach with a Ph.D in Psychology, disagrees with calling this “therapy-speak” at all, saying “this isn't ‘therapy speak,’ it's social media's version of what therapy is, that fuels this stuff.”


She believes therapy would have provided a much better alternative than Anna’s friend provided, saying “The person setting the boundary is conflict avoidant, self-focused, and a poor communicator...which seems to shine through here although unknown.”

They seem to want to apply therapy techniques to their friendship breakup but ultimately miss the mark because they learned these “therapy” techniques from TikTok.


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A trauma and relationship therapist on Instagram named Jordan Pickell addressed the article and these kinds of situations. 

She said “Actual therapists are not supporting clients to be cutthroat with their loved ones. Therapists help people have difficult, open-hearted conversations with people they love about what they need and how they feel.”

Perhaps if Anna’s friend had actually gotten therapy or seen a therapist, she would have been able to convey her feelings in a much more healthy manner, but instead, we got a debate about “therapy-speak.”


People are, however, weaponizing these methods they hear about on the internet.

Nothing is inherently bad about this perceived method of talking to people that some are referring to as “therapy-speak,” the problem is that people will use these barebones concepts they learn about and twist them to match their own selfish agendas — sometimes without even realizing it.

The conversation around Bustle's article echoes a similar discourse that followed a 2019 tweet from a woman named Melissa A. Fabello that spawned a massive wave of internet memes, hilarity, and roasting.


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The tweet spoke positively about a message that Fabello received from her friend, which read “Do you have the emotional/mental capacity for me to vent about something medical/weight-related for a few minutes?”


Toward the end of the thread, she made a template for an equally robotic example of what you could respond with if you were “at capacity.”

People joked about this for months, claiming that they would soon start talking to everyone like this and laughing and what they deemed to be the absurdity of it all, but there isn’t anything inherently bad about what Fabello shared with everyone.


What people should understand about this situation is that this conversation is entirely nuanced and unique to these people and this situation. If this is how they choose to talk to each other, that’s okay, but the beauty of humanity is that everyone and every relationship is different, and conversations like this are typically had and held with a higher level of compassion.

These kinds of concepts and methods for talking to people are all over the internet, and some people are using them as a means to feel as though they are in the right when it comes to their own personal lives.

They feel empowered to be selfish so long as they view themselves as only “setting boundaries,” and that’s the real issue.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Keep up with his rants about current events on his Twitter.