Therapist Reveals Her 3 Biggest Pet Peeves About The 'Mental Health Space'

No space is perfect, even in mental health work.

therapist in office YURII MASLAK / Shutterstock

Focusing on mental health allows us to know ourselves better. In therapy, we’re given space to identify the patterns that serve us and the ones that hold us back. We can deep dive into our pasts, consider our futures, and do the hard work of healing.

Social media has opened up access to a wealth of mental health information, which holds both positive and negative repercussions. Placing mental health in the center of online conversations reduces its stigma, but it can also distill and over-simplify certain parts of mental health work, as well.


A mental health content creator and licensed family therapist named Steph expressed how much she loves the mental health community while describing some elements she doesn’t like.

The therapist revealed her 3 biggest pet peeves about the ‘mental health space’:

1. People who say that ‘connecting to the present moment will bring you calm’

When we work on our mental health, we often hear certain phrases, like “Hold space” or "Protect your peace."

Steph shared a saying that’s one of her pet peeves: “Connecting to the present moment will bring you calm.”

@stephanne221 I love my community! And, there are some things that we do sometimes that make me go 🧐I’m confident that I am also probably doing someone else’s pet peeves so drop yours in the comments, I’d love to hear if there are things that I can improve upon.#mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthawareness #therapy #therapytiktok #therapytok #wellness #psychology #therapist #therapistsontiktok #mindfulness #attachmentstyle #meditating #dbt #validation #selfimprovement #selfgrowth #anxiousattachmentstyle #fyp #foryou ♬ nintendo wii (mii channel) song - julie on the internet

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“The only thing the present moment will bring you is connection to what is present,” she clarified. “What is present is often many, many, many things, like hunger, body pain, emotional pain, lots of thoughts all at once.”

“I think it is misleading to set the expectation that the present moment will bring you calm, and we still need to practice connecting to it,” she said.

Steph makes a very valuable observation, which is that we won’t always feel calm.

therapy session Ilona Kozhevnikova / Shutterstock


We can’t expect to feel entirely comfortable at all times, and a major part of mental health work is recognizing that it’s okay to sit with that discomfort; in fact, it’s necessary.

We can’t move through harder emotions if we don’t let ourselves experience them. Staying connected to our present allows us to really feel the full depth of our feelings, even when they’re not calm ones.

RELATED: Psychologist Reveals 7 Sad Signs You Have Low Emotional Intelligence

2. Giving praise instead of validation

Steph noted how much she appreciates the practice of validation, saying, “I think it’s amazing, and it can be so relationship enhancing.”


“It’s tricky because praise can actually be invalidating,” she said.

In a separate post, she went into further detail about the difference between validation and praise.

@stephanne221 How many people think saying “good job!” Is a form of validation? For those who are working on their validation game, how do you see praise vs validation?#validation #dbtiktokofficial #mentalhealth #therapy #selfimprovement #fyp ♬ original sound - Steph the Attachment Therapist

“Praise is about creating a positive or uplifted mood or emotional space,” she said. “Validation is a process of helping somebody understand and reflect back to them that their emotional experience makes sense.”


“It’s honoring someone's emotional experience, it’s matching it, it’s acknowledging it,” she continued.

She explained that validating requires us to notice and accept other people’s moods.

You are putting yourself in their shoes and figuring out how it makes sense,” she said.

3. Therapists who don’t honor secondary emotions

“This can actually happen a lot in couples therapy, specifically the one that I practice, emotionally focused therapy,” Steph said, before offering an explanation of secondary and primary emotions.

“People show anger [and] annoyance, but on the inside, down below, the primary emotion is that they’re feeling afraid or sad,” she said.


“So, if someone’s, like, really, really angry, a therapist might be like, ‘Tell me about your sadness,’” she gave as an example.

sad woman Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

Steph shared a message for other therapists who struggle with that part of their practice.


“This is actually something I’ve done a lot of work on and I’m very happy with how I’ve been able to navigate that,” she said, noting that it’s another set of skills and interventions to learn.

Recognizing the power that secondary emotions can have means accepting that they exist in the first place, and not glossing over them to get to the root of someone’s emotional experience.

Steph’s pet peeves highlight that no community is perfect. Every space has its flaws, even when the people within it are doing good work. By being open about the aspects of the mental health space that she doesn’t like, Steph is normalizing imperfection, which is always healing. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.