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Do Therapists Curse in Session?

Curt and Katie discuss a recent citation from the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to a therapist for cursing while in session. We explore: Can therapists swear in session? Should they? Are there times when cursing is appropriate in session? Are therapists allowed to make errors without the fear of citation from their board? We explore these and more in this episode.


Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.

In this podcast episode we talk about the ethics and responsibilities of cursing in session.

After hearing about the citation for a clinician who had cursed in session, we wanted to explore what is acceptable related to using curse words in session. We know as therapists that what we say matters, and now more than ever our choice of language matters. Who is allowed to curse in the therapy room? We tackle this question in depth:

Is swearing or cursing ever appropriate in session?

  • Both Curt and Katie swear in session when appropriate
  • Swearing in session can create a more authentic therapeutic rapport with some clients
  • Sometimes clients will ask for permission to swear in session
  • Follow the client’s lead when it comes to their language in session, including cursing
  • It is mostly important to reflect the client’s language without judgement
  • Clients might be looking for more humanity in their therapists
  • Therapists are people; curses can slip out when therapists feel depleted and without resource
  • Cursing based on your own humanity can cause therapeutic rupture and clinicians should be mindful of the therapeutic alliance and make repair attempts

“The concept of professionalism has a fairly biased frame. It’s something that’s very specific to a specific culture… typically, white culture [suggests] I am professional if I don’t curse… Even words that are considered curse words – sometimes there’s such a morality around that and morals are culturally-bound” – Katie Vernoy

What does the research show us about swearing?

  • Some research suggests that cursing out loud decreases pain
  • “Professional language” is often rooted in whiteness with a goal of excluding people of color
  • When not accurately reflecting a client’s language, you run the risk of editing them
  • Swearing speech is primarily meant to convey connotative or emotional meaning with emphasis

What do professional organizations say now about cursing in session?

  • The BBS recently cited a therapist for swearing in session as unprofessional language
  • Only one professional organization, The National Association of Social Workers, officially bars cursing in session – specifically derogatory language
  • Swearing speech is primarily meant to convey connotative or emotional meaning with emphasis
  • Therapists have a responsibility to make sure they are emotionally equipped to deal with clients

Is there an ideal language for therapists to use? … I caution against blanket rules. – Curt Widhalm

  • Slurs are never acceptable to use during session, especially when there are cultural differences between client and therapist
  • Considerations related to expressing your humanity, using curse words, and the clients you see
  • Ethically, we have guidelines of client beneficence and avoiding maleficence, meaning don’t harm the client
  • Technically cursing is allowed, but only with reason and while remembering that some folks are litigious

Our Generous Sponsor for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide:

Dr. Tequilla Hill

The practice of psychotherapy is unique, creative, and multifaceted. However, combining a more demanding schedule and handling our own pandemic related stresses can give rise to experiencing compassion, fatigue, and the dreaded burnout. Unfortunately, many therapists struggle silently with prioritizing their own wellness across their professional journey.

If you are tired of going in and out of the burnout cycle and you desire to optimize your wellness, Dr. Tequilla Hill a mindful entrepreneur, yoga, and somatic meditation teacher has curated How to Stay Well While you Work Therapist Wellness Guide to support providers that are struggling to manage your own self care.  Subscribe to Dr. Hill’s Stay Well While You Work! Therapist Wellness Guide and you can find many of the inspiring offerings from Dr. Hill’s 17 years as a practice leader, supervisor, mentor, human systems consultant and wellness enthusiast.

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Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!
The Case for Cursing

Client’s Experiences and Perceptions of the Therapist’s use of Swear Words and the Resulting Impact on the Therapeutic Alliance in the Context of the Therapeutic Relationship by HollyAnne Giffin

Swearing as a Response to Pain: Assessing Hypoalgesic Effects of Novel “Swear” Words by Richard Stephens and Olly Robertson

Relevant Citations in the  MTSG Podcast:

Stephens, R., & Clatworthy, A. (2006). Does swearing have an analgesic effect? Poster presentation at the British Psychological Society Psychobiology Section Annual Conference, 18
20 September 2006, Windermere

Stephens, R. (2013). Swearing-The language of life and death. The Psychologist, 26(9). Retrieved from

Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

CAMFT Ethics Code Updates

When Clients Have to Manage Their Therapists

The Return of Why Therapists Quit

Impaired Therapists

Who we are:

Picture of Curt Widhalm, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcast; a nice young man with a glorious beard.Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Picture of Katie Vernoy, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcastKatie Vernoy, LMFT

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:


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Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

Transcript for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast (Autogenerated):

Curt Widhalm  00:00

This episode of the Modern Therapist Survival Guide is brought to you by Dr. Tequilla Hill.

Katie Vernoy  00:05

The practice of psychotherapy is unique, creative and multifaceted. However, combining a more demanding schedule and handling our own pandemic related stresses can give rise to experiencing compassion, fatigue, and the dreaded burnout. Unfortunately, many therapists struggle silently with prioritizing their own wellness across their professional journey.

Curt Widhalm  00:26

Dr. Tequilla Hill a mindful entrepreneur yoga and somatic meditation teacher has curated how to stay well while you work therapist wellness guide to support providers that are struggling to manage your own self care. Stay tuned at the end of the episode to learn more.

Katie Vernoy  00:42

Hey everyone, before we get started with the episode, Curt and I wanted to make sure you were aware that we have opportunities for you to support us for as little as $2 a month.

Curt Widhalm  00:51

Whether you want to make that a monthly contribution at  or a one time donation over at Every donation helps us out and continues to help us bring great content to you. Listen at the end of the episode for more information.


Announcer  01:14

You’re listening to the Modern Therapist Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe and practice as human beings. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy.

Curt Widhalm  01:28

Welcome back modern therapists. This is the Modern Therapist Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm, with Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast for therapists about things that we do things that show up in therapy things that are happening in our profession. And today’s episode started with looking at a citation that was issued by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences to a therapist, this is public information, we’re not going to name names. But this is part one of a two part episode.

Katie Vernoy  02:05

Oh at least two parts.

Curt Widhalm  02:08

Part, episode one, at least two parts dealing with this particular citation. And if you know us that we can dive deeply into the strangest of things. But this is an important one in looking at the way that licensing boards are evaluating things. And this has some potential ramifications throughout the rest of our profession. If you’re not in California, your board may come after you one day too. So listen, listen to these because this does have some ramifications across our profession. Now, very, very broadly, not getting into a ton of details. If you want to peruse, you can probably pull this up, we’re not going to link this one for you. But very, very broadly, therapist was doing reunification therapy with a parent and children. And my understanding of reading through the citation is that the therapist used a curse word in session. A little bit of perspective in having done some reunification therapy before. There’s a lot of dynamics at play with the parent who’s not in the room. But there does not seem to be any disagreement that a curse word was used. The disagreement seems to be how the curse word was used. And this particular case, one of the children in the room felt that the therapist was calling the child the curse word, the parent who was in the room and the therapist will say that the therapist was using the word to describe the child’s behavior. The California Board of Behavioral Sciences in their citation said that this is unprofessional conduct. And this among some other things that we will explore in this episode and next week’s episode are going to be why we’re talking so deeply about this. But Katie, do you curse in session?

Katie Vernoy  04:18

We’ll share Yeah, Yeah, fuck yeah. Curse in session. I don’t always, I don’t always, and I don’t with every client, but I think there’s so many different elements to cursing in session. And obviously this one’s going to get one of those explicit marks and so maybe we should have put a warning we already put it on the episode but if you don’t like cursing turn it the fuck off.

Curt Widhalm  04:46

Put a little parental advisory label on the show graphic for this episode. But

Katie Vernoy  04:53

I mean, I’m actually cursing more than I would normally for a fact obviously but I think it’s something where the elements that we need to look at are, is it unprofessional conduct? Can we be human beings? And is there an reason that it would might be more effective clinically, or times it might be really harmful clinically, like I think there’s there’s a lot of different elements to this. So.

Curt Widhalm  05:17

So I think anecdotally, a lot of us who work in the fields tend to take an approach of well adopt the kind of language that a client is using, and oftentimes following their leads, and particularly in working with teenagers a lot. In my practice, I’ll get the question of, Can I curse them here? Usually, after they’ve said a curse word, right?

Katie Vernoy  05:40

Yes, same adults, though, in my case.

Curt Widhalm  05:44

And oftentimes I, I will say, this is your space. And if this is something that helps you to be able to express yourself, well, go ahead and do it. And I may, you know, reflect back their language, it may give me a little bit of, you know, more genuine approach and letting down some of my professionalism a little bit in order to help clients feel that I’m connecting with them on their level. And for many of the therapists that I talked about, we tend to take this kind of an approach that, particularly when we’re working with communities that have maybe had some issues with the way that therapists come across too professionally, that there’s a lot of power in the language of using curse words, that helps to show that alright, as therapists, if we can meet with them on the level and the way that they express themselves, that it helps to build more of a real relationship. And I’ve seen this back when I was working and agency work working in substance abuse, homeless populations, that it did just kind of help give me a little bit more of a response of clients thinking that I’m authentic. I imagine that you had some similar experiences in DMH yourself?

Katie Vernoy  07:00

Sure. I mean, I think there’s there’s a few things that you said that kind of struck me and I don’t know if it’s worth, you know, talking about but I think there’s using the client’s language and you said, kind of meeting them at their level? And I don’t know exactly, if that’s saying like, one form of language is better than an other and, and for me, I think I don’t think that’s what you were trying to say. But I think for me, it’s more kind of embodying the space and using the language with them without a judgement there, but

Curt Widhalm  07:33

And it wasn’t intended as placing anything as far as being higher or lower level. I mean, if, if I have a three year old in session that we’re going to talk on, you know, our hands as phones in order to convey messages, I’m going to meet with them on their level. So this is just kind of being able to match client characteristics.

Katie Vernoy  07:54

Sure. Okay. I think the other element that you’re talking about really is authenticity. And for me, I want curse words to be used in session where it feels authentic to do so. And potentially as a connecting mechanism, but I think, just using curse words, because your client does, I don’t think it’s going to fly. So So I think, a couple of things there. I don’t know if they’re relevant, but, but to answer your question, I think the more important element of this is, knowing your client well, and really reflecting their language without assumption. I know a mistake that I had made more than once, and I realized it as I was doing it, is that I assumed that the client cursed and I was wrong. And I’d used a curse word I saw their eyebrows kind of go up. And it was something where I felt it was to reflect the gravity of what I’ve experiencing, like, oh, fuck, you know, or Wow, that was really shitty. You know, like, I’ve I’ve used those expressions, because that’s how I talk and other arenas. But when I saw the client’s eyebrows go up, I was like, Oh, wait, I’m tracking back. And although they’re a person who is not a formal person, they seem to be, you know, kind of casual and how they speak. It still wasn’t a word that was appropriate for them. And so to me, I feel like I, I have since moved to a place of cursing as little as possible, unless I really know like, meaning zero, unless I know the client very well. And we’ve had those exchanges and I’ve definitely heard them curse, which not everybody does, because some people see it as more of a kind of formal environment that we’re sitting in. But I especially had to kind of assess this when I was working with the teen boys on probation. I mean, that was a whole different, you know, kind of way to connect with folks around language and perspective. And so I think, a blanket statement of never curse or curse whenever you want. I think obviously, that’s not what we’re here to say.

Curt Widhalm  10:04

When I first read this citation, I did a little bit of a self study on myself of just keeping track of the number of sessions that I had in the following days, right? Use a curse word, and it came to about 60% of my sessions.

Katie Vernoy  10:22

You definitely work with teens.

Curt Widhalm  10:24

I work with teens, I work with parents, I work with a number of different clients that our relationship has established. And I don’t consider myself somebody who curses frequently in my day to day life.

Katie Vernoy  10:40

So you curse more in session than in your day to day life,

Curt Widhalm  10:43

Probably. I mean, I haven’t done this kind of data tracking on my personal life, maybe I should just for comparison sake, but in observing myself, I did the follow up question of who? Why am I person care, and it fell into a couple of different categories. One was to really kind of ask clients to expand on things like, you know, if a client says, like, I’m feeling like shit today, where that’s gonna make me feel shitty, like, Oh, why do you think that that’s going to make you feel shitty, you know, just kind of echoing their language, family sessions are my favorites of when, especially with very young children, I’m talking, you know, those kids under the age of six, maybe preschoolers that are using curse words, and parents are trying to correct it, of, you know, talking about parents using the language in front of their children and how that’s reinforcing to them. Yeah, and finding alternatives. And then there are those times where there’s just kind of the emphasizing a point with clients that I’ve already had an established relationship with where this is being used, being able to just kind of help them maybe recognize a particular moment in session, as far as here’s an emphasis on this. But in my, you know, data of like, one week of looking at this, these were all clients that had been the first to swear in sessions.

Katie Vernoy  12:16

Mm hmm.

Curt Widhalm  12:17

And I think I kind of follow you and and many others in our field that we don’t lead with this, and I don’t think clients necessarily, overall want us to lead with this. There’s a couple of older articles, I’m talking 10 plus years old now, that kind of look at the role of therapists swearing in session, very, very minutely. And seems to be from time to in our fields when there really was a lot more of this elevated professionalism expected of psychologists, therapists, social workers, etc. But I think you know, really, overall, with the old man shaking, his fist, decaying morals of our society, where cursing seems to be a lot more prevalent. I think in the last 10 years, this has been something where either we’re more readily admitting it or our clients are actually looking for more of that humanity out of the professionals who serve in these roles.

Katie Vernoy  13:16

And when you were talking the the concept of professionalism has a fairly biased frame. It’s something that’s very specific to a specific culture I’m in typically, white culture is more in the like, I am professional if I don’t curse, I think even words that are considered curse words. Sometimes there’s such a morality around that and, and morals are culturally bound to that. I feel like if we were to never curse, and if we don’t curse personally, I don’t, you know, like, you don’t have to bust out a curse word if you don’t if you never curse, but like for those of us who that’s part of our communication. I think it is interesting that our profession and a professional body would say, hey, that is unprofessional behavior, when in fact, it may be the most connecting thing we can do. Like I said, I’ve I’ve made mistakes and curse when I shouldn’t with clients that don’t curse and I recognized it in the moment. But to me, there’s using it thoughtfully. And then there’s also just being who you are and talking how you talk, and having the clients that match with you. I mean, there are folks who just that’s how they talk and should they be required as therapists to completely remove all cursing from their vocabulary.

Curt Widhalm  14:48

You bring up the professional organizations, and there’s one professional organization who puts it in their ethics codes and This is the National Association of Social Workers, their standard 1.12 or one point 12, derogatory language, social workers should not use derogatory language in their written verbal or electronic communications, to or about clients. Social workers should use accurate and respectful language in all communications to and about clients.

Katie Vernoy  15:24

So it’s, it’s implying that cursing is de facto disrespectful.

Curt Widhalm  15:30

I think that in any ethics code, there’s room for interpretation here, but this one is specifically talking about the language that gets used and says,

Katie Vernoy  15:41

It says derogatory language, I guess. So like that is that’s where the interpretation is that you’re talking about.

Curt Widhalm  15:46

Right. Which then kind of leads to the question of who gets to decide what words mean, you know, this is a intention versus impact sort of conversation, because I can think of a million ways to not use curse words and still speak derogatorily about somebody? Sure, you know, and I can think of ways where clients may even be offended for not utilizing the kind of language that they incorporate into their world. Whether that includes curse words or not.

Katie Vernoy  16:24

Yeah, I just think if you were to, to when somebody says I’m feeling really shitty today, like, you could come back and say, Well, what do you think is gonna make you feel that way? But if you were like, so what makes you feel like poop today? Like, I think it would just be funny. But secondly, it’s, it’s, it’s editing them?

Curt Widhalm  16:46


Katie Vernoy  16:46

in the reframe.

Curt Widhalm  16:47

I have, I have worked in environments before where clients readily use this kind of language all the time, but have had co workers who would try and kind of calm things down and be like, Can Can we not use that language here? Can we use something more respectful and those kinds of coworkers didn’t last long in those environments? Yeah, some of looking at this is also looking at some of the neurological research that has come out in the last 10 or so years about the effectiveness of using curse words, as a way of relieving pain. Oh, interesting. And we’ll put some citations, at least in the show notes. Not necessarily going to find all of the source articles he re for people but,

Katie Vernoy  17:44

But we’re gonna say we’re gonna have citations never fear, you’ll be able to find it.

Curt Widhalm  17:48

We’re gonna have some citations here. But the use of curse words has allowed for people being subjected to physical pain to report on a subjective units of distress, less pain being felt when they’re allowed to curse. And this was also replicated in a Mythbusters episodes that so I mean, if

Katie Vernoy  18:14

It has to be true, it’s very true.

Curt Widhalm  18:19

The question really becomes, is cursing allowed or not. And this is where we get into these weird, like, can we create blanket rules for our profession? I’m not going to be like leading cursing with my clients.

Katie Vernoy  18:36


Curt Widhalm  18:37

Especially, you know, children.

Katie Vernoy  18:42

Yeah, I think probably the parents would not be pleased if you taught your child, your child clients to curse.

Curt Widhalm  18:50

And part of this is going to be based on your theoretical orientation. You know, if part of what your family therapy is is working on creating structure around appropriate language in the household, and kids are going to be cursing or not, or if that’s something that parents are trying to move their kids away from, inevitably, you’re going to have to at least document that you’re working on.

Katie Vernoy  19:14

Yeah, yeah, I agree. I think that there, there are clinical reasons, whether it’s part of the joining and the relationship, whether it’s authenticity, whether it’s specific things you’re working on. I think there are reasons to thoughtfully engage in cursing and session. You know, because I think otherwise, it is really just about humanity. I mean, to me in reading that citation, I’m not clear so it could have been that the the clinician was speaking about behavior, reflecting back language from the family. And it could have been thoughtful, thoughtful use, but I’m curious having worked in a lot of these types of situations where there’s reunification, or DCFS involvement, or probation involvement, where there’s families that are under a lot of stress, they’re being mandated to treatment, there are a lot of things going on. And those families righteously can be challenging for a clinician to work with. And it can be very, very overwhelming. And so to me, I’m thinking, was this a clinical choice? I’m reflecting the language, I’m being authentic, or was it a, I am at my last my wit’s end and holy fuck I am done for the day. And so it was not thoughtful, it was humanity. And the question I posed to you, dear sir, is if we curse in session, because of our humanity, is that okay?

Curt Widhalm  20:51

So a couple of the articles that are out there, one of the people who has looked into this a little bit more than some others is Timothy J. 2008. Article from J. And Janowitz, says that, in contrast to most other speech, swearing is primarily meant to convey connotative or emotional meaning. In other words, that, you know, a word like shit does not usually necessarily literally mean a pile of feces, it means that there is some sort of emphasis to it based on the context of the language. Yeah, I think that, on that point of, it’s about the emphasis of it. Speaking from a position of reality, what you’re asking is, is there an ideal language for therapists to use? Hmm. And, again, I cautioned against blanket rules, because there may be polite society that does find it extremely offensive, you know, one of the very weird things about our field is that you may be, you know, talking into your hand as a mock cellular phone with a child in one session. And then your next session, maybe exploring the BDSM desires of somebody who’s exploring their sexuality, then rules, even from one session to the next may be impossible to create a absolute value, let alone a strict rule of what ideal language that you can use. It’s a very fancy way of saying it depends.

Katie Vernoy  22:36

Well, I’m hearing a whole bunch of it depends. But I think there’s that additional element of, if I’ve, I’m at the end of my resources, I’m exhausted and something is thrown at me in session that I normally could catch, and I don’t. And I basically start being a human in the moment, because I have no more resources left is that worthy of a, of a disciplinary action,

Curt Widhalm  23:07

we do have a responsibility to put ourselves in the best position to take care of our clients. And, you know, I can imagine and I’ve had frustrating sessions over my career that have stirred up emotional reactions in sessions and working through in subsequent sessions or subsequent communications with clients or former clients that there is a ownership of some of that humanity, some people are going to be litigious. Some people are going to file complaints, you know, if I’m going to draw a line on this, you know, not everybody is going to want their therapist to curse. Some people are going to think it’s the best fucking thing that’s ever happened. But I think that there is probably an absolute line. And even this line is kind of gray in and of itself. But I think that there is a line that is probably the intention of that NASW code, which is where the use of slurs come in. And especially if there’s cultural differences between the therapist and the client that, you know, if I have a client who’s expressing, hey, I got called the N word down on the streets and is actually using the pejorative language. They’re even in all of my trying to connect with a client’s me as a very white therapist. I’m staying away from reflecting that word to them. But I think that you know, in any of the expressions that we have, that being very careful about not using slurs is probably a line that we all definitely need to be aware of where that is, and follow that one

Katie Vernoy  24:58

To me taking what you’re saying and adding my own thoughts to it is really having common sense and making sure that we have sufficient resources available to either remain appropriate and not become offensive to our clients, if at all possible. I think the other element of it is kind of this common decency and respect. I think if one of my first jobs out of college was working in a group home with kids who had been removed from their parents homes or their caregivers homes, and I was carrying a child, I was working as a childcare worker, not as a therapist, and I was carrying one of the children and hit a pothole in the road, sprained my ankle and went down with the kid. Even in that moment, when I’m in excruciating pain, and the kid is crying because they fell with me, I did not drop the kid, I felt very proud of myself, I was much younger than I would drop them now. I didn’t curse. Maybe I would have felt less pain. If I did. It sounds like from the study. But I did it because I was aware, I have a kid with me. And there’s enough of a filter for me that I wasn’t going to immediately go to “fuck”. So in sessions, having that much left that much kind of super ego or that much kind of observer, mindfulness, whatever works for you. But having that much to say, even if I’m in a bad spot, let me first excuse myself, rather than get to a place where I’m cursing without it making much sense, clinically, I think is our responsibility.

Curt Widhalm  26:57

Sure. I think that overall, what we’re talking about here is trying to make a case that cursings allowed. And I think that we’ve at least done a good enough job to say that we shouldn’t disallow it. But there’s probably got to be some reasons for, hey, here’s why you don’t. I mean, obviously, this citation that we’re referring to, as far as the basis of this episode is necessary that at least in some cases, you shouldn’t,

Katie Vernoy  27:28

I think that the know your audience is really important. We’ve said that throughout. But I think it’s also understand the impact of your words. The thing that I grapple with, and I don’t know if this is something maybe you grapple with as well is that even when we’re feeling especially human, and embodied as a therapist, there is still a power differential. And there still is an expectation that we will show up in a certain way. And I think not showing up in that way, shouldn’t be taken lightly. There have been times when my humanity has come through, and I’ve had ruptures that were not repaired, and clients that left treatment, you know, that frequently, but that has happened, I’ve had clients who, fortunately have been able to say, hey, and it wasn’t necessarily about cursing, but more that kind of humanity piece. But I, I expect it would also happen with cursing. But clients who would come to me and say, You were weird in that session with me what happened there, and then being able to talk about what was happening behind the scenes. But I think there may be clients who have trauma histories around certain ways that people speak, there may be things that you would need to know before you really dig into or become, I think, to free and how you express yourself in your own humanity. I think there’s, I think there’s times when having curse words in your vocabulary could be a hindrance to you in connecting with clients and keeping the environment safe for them.

Curt Widhalm  29:07

What you’re talking about is our ethical guidelines of client beneficence and avoiding maleficence. That what we do is for the benefit of clients, and we don’t do the things that harm clients, and the history of, you know, polite society, using proper language has been proven to often been an exclusionary way of keeping diversity out of professional roles. And this has existed and today, and I think that, you know, there’s always the default to remaining in this classical professionalism that is the guidance to avoiding that maleficence. When in doubt, be safe.

Katie Vernoy  30:03


Curt Widhalm  30:05

But when clients curse first fuck yeah, we’re gonna do it.

Katie Vernoy  30:08


Curt Widhalm  30:13

We will link to some articles here in the show notes you can find those at One piece that we didn’t really highlight in the, in the middle of the show that I think is worth pointing out is a master’s thesis dissertation from Holly Anne Giffen from 2016. That served as the basis for us finding some of these other articles. We will include a link to that in our show notes to find those at And follow us on our social media and join our Facebook group, the modern therapist group and until next time, I’m Curt Wildhalm with Katie Vernoy.

Katie Vernoy  30:56

Thanks again to our sponsor, Dr. Tequilla Hill therapist.

Curt Widhalm  31:00

If you are tired of going in and out of the burnout cycle and you desire to optimize your wellness, Dr. Tequilla Hill has created and curated a wellness guide specifically with deep compassion for the dynamic personhood of the psychotherapist. Subscribe to Dr. Hills offerings at Bitly forward slash stay well guide that’s BIT dot L y forward slash StayWell guides and you can find many of the inspiring offerings from Dr. Hill 17 years as a practice leader, supervisor, mentor, human systems consultant and wellness enthusiast.

Katie Vernoy  31:37

Once again subscribe to Dr. Tequila Hills how to stay well while you work therapists wellness guide at Bitly forward slash stay well guide

Curt Widhalm  31:47

Hey everyone, Kurt and Katie here. If you love our content and would like to bring the conversations deeper, please support us on our Patreon. For as little as $2 per month we’re able to bring you more content, exclusive offerings and more opportunities to engage in our growing modern therapist community. These contributions help us to expand our offerings for continuing education events and a whole lot more.

Katie Vernoy  32:10

If you don’t think you can make a monthly contribution no worries we also have a buy me a coffee profile for one time donations support us at whatever level you can today it really helps us out. You can find Ford slash MTS G podcast or buy me a Ford slash modern therapist. Thanks everyone.

Announcer  32:32

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