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Should Therapists Correct Clients?

Curt and Katie chat about whether therapists should correct clients who use offensive language. We look at what we should consider when addressing what clients say (including treatment goals and the relationship), how therapists can take care of themselves to be able to treat clients who hold a different worldview, and how (and when) therapists can address problematic language appropriately.


Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.

In this podcast episode we talk about whether therapists should call out their clients on words they find inappropriate

We decided to address the language that clients use in session and what to do when we find the language offensive or harmful.

Should therapists correct clients when they use language we find offensive or harmful?

  • Blank slate or “join your clients” approaches
  • Whether the language should be addressed when it doesn’t align with a client’s stated treatment goals
  • Showing up as a human and addressing the therapeutic relationship
  • Judgment or shaming that can happen with clients

What should therapists consider when addressing what clients say?

  • The relationship between the therapist and client
  • Relevance to clinical goals
  • The impact on trust in the therapeutic alliance
  • The importance of using the client’s language to affirm their experience
  • The power differential between therapist and client

How can therapists show up with clients who see the world differently than they do?

  • Addressing objectification of therapist’s identities
  • Assessing when therapists are centering their own experience versus responding to what is in the room
  • Using the relationship to process client’s perspective

“I feel like just living in the client’s world without honoring my own experience at all doesn’t feel quite right. But centering my experience feels wrong.” – Katie Vernoy

What can therapists do to appropriately address problematic language with their clients?

  • Process what is being said before correcting specific words
  • Address within the relationship and within the treatment goals
  • Using our own coping skills to be able to navigate what our clients bring to session

“I’m very worried that therapists don’t have enough of their own coping skills to deal with these things coming up in sessions. Where they feel that they have to shut these clients down for the protection of themselves. You know, their only coping mechanism seems to be – I need to escape working with clients that don’t already agree with my worldview.” – Curt Widhalm

  • Where social justice plays a role (and maybe shouldn’t)
  • Education and supporting the client’s whole development
  • Assessing the impact of these interventions (both positive and negative)
  • Assessing the harm in not pointing out bias or harmful language

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

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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!

Therapist–Client Language Matching: Initial Promise as a Measure of Therapist–Client Relationship Quality

Feedback Informed Treatment

Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

Do Therapists Curse in Session?

How to Fire Your Clients (Ethically)

How to Fire Your Clients (Ethically) part 1.5

When is it Discrimination?

Conspiracy Theories in Your Office

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 0:00
This episode of Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide is brought to you by Turning Point.

Katie Vernoy 0:03
Turning Point Financial Life Planning helps therapists stop worrying about money. Confidently navigate every aspect of your financial life from practice financials and personal budgeting to investing, taxes and student loans.

Curt Widhalm 0:17
Visit to learn more and enter the promo code ‘moderntherapist’ for $200 off any service.

Katie Vernoy 0:25
This episode is also brought to you by OOtify.

Curt Widhalm 0:28
OOTify is an immersive digital mental health ecosystem. It’s designed to help minimize the fragmentation, trial and error and overwhelm felt by both patients and providers in the process of giving and receiving care. OOtify is the process of lifting up mental health care while lifting each other up.

Katie Vernoy 0:45
Listen at the end of the episode for more information.

Announcer 0:48
you’re listening to The Modern Therapist’s 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 1:03
Welcome back modern therapists. This is The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast for therapists about the things that we do, the things that come up in our sessions, the ways that we interact with clients. And this episode, boils down to language. And we’ve covered some things about language before in some of our previous podcasts, things like cursing and that kind of stuff. But sparking today’s episode is what do we do when clients use language that we don’t necessarily like or agree with? What’s our role in the therapy room? And what do we do when we really don’t like it? Katie, what are your thoughts?

Katie Vernoy 1:49
Well, I think I have to correct you real quick, because I think it’s not when just we don’t like the language. When we find the language offensive or icky or disgusting. I think that’s what we’re actually talking about. To correct you really quick. So to the topic, I think I was trained as a therapist a million years ago, and I got the blank slate training, I got the client kind of is the one in the space, you don’t put yourself in there. And so I think for me, I I find myself grappling with, when do I interact with my client as a human and put myself into the room? And when do I let the clients experience stand? As we were preparing for this episode, I feel like there were a lot of different spots to think about when to correct, when not to correct, when to refer out, when to do all the things and we have, like two or three episodes on when to like how to fire your clients ethically. We’ve got an episode on discrimination if we’re referring out every one of a specific gender, for example, sis white males. So we’ll link to those in the show notes. But I think generally, I don’t typically correct my clients.

Curt Widhalm 3:17
My first therapy practicing experience was in a methadone clinic down near Los Angeles is Skid Row area. And if you’re not familiar with the Los Angeles area, this was an area known for some of the society’s most outcast. And working within substance vos it attracted a certain kind of culture and population within the clients that we had and the ways that they communicated there. Now my supervisor at the time very much encouraged that you as the therapist, it is your job to fit within the language that the clients use. And as long as it’s something that’s not derogatory, or, like don’t use the N word, but like if a client is using some sort of language in session, match the language to show that you understand and convey their experience.

Katie Vernoy 4:16
So not just don’t correct them, join them.

Curt Widhalm 4:19
Yes. Treat them like human beings enter into their worlds. And I remember several interactions with another trainee, both in supervision and just around the clinic in general who had a very hard time with both clients and counselors and staff using any curse words. And it was no secret among the clients and this then spread to the other staff that none of the clients really wanted to see this trainee as a counselor because they felt judged. So I have from the beginning of my career, Ben, very much of the mindset of unless it’s something that a client is specifically asking for of how to better relate to people in a more polite way. It’s our job to accommodate and adapt to their language.

Katie Vernoy 4:19
Yes, and to use our favorite little phrase, I think it’s something that as a human, and what we talk about is, we do bring ourselves into the room, I think we have to be fairly adept at navigating our own feelings, and not centering our own discomfort in our client sessions. But for me, and I, I see this in as a very complex picture. It’s not just hey, if the client, we enter the client’s language and sit there, it’s understanding the context, as understanding the relationship and understanding the relevance to treatment goals. And a larger element around society. And it’s, it’s so much it depends. It’s client by client, it’s not something that I can say broadly, like, yes, you always correct objectifying language. I mean, there’s there’s a lot of clients that I’ve experienced, all genders, that call women girls or call or broads or chicks or bitches or, you know, whatever, like that there’s, there’s something like that. And that hits me a little weird, you know, as a feminist and as a woman who has wanted to really honor and respect women in all ways. And I don’t correct that typically, I don’t, I don’t go into that unless it’s relevant to their goals. However, I know that probably bias comes in where it feels relevant to me, because of my own response to those that language. And so just saying, like, enter it in and let it be, I think there’s there’s this potentially neutral space where it doesn’t overstep the client’s goals. But it’s not exactly relevant to client’s goals, and is something that’s going to improve the relationship with you, as well as society in general.

Curt Widhalm 7:23
Also as a feminist and attracting some of the clients that I do, who may feel more free to use some of those terms that you just use to derogatorily speak to women. It’s not that they necessarily need to be corrected in those particular moments, but it’s understanding that, in any of these embracements in therapy is not necessarily a encouragement of using those words. I may choose not to use the same language as them. But it doesn’t mean I’m going to chastise them either. That looking at it as part of a spectrum of growth, and I think that part of the invalidation that clients feel in these situations is that if you’re going to latch on to words that I use, then you are therefore unsafe for me to speak to in the way that my lived experience or my world, as I’m sitting as a client, is being experienced right now. I may not be coming to a therapist in order to, you know, be pushed several steps further ahead than where I exist right now, it may warrant some careful exploration. But I think, you know, part of these situations that I’m trying to warn against is being so quick to be righteously protective of some of these marginalized groups where this language is often directed at but being so quick to do it ends up alienating our clients in the bigger picture than it is necessarily helpful in being able to do it each and every time that it comes up. Even looking at the top of the episode, like had we not had a several year relationship where all right, I know that you’re gonna give me a little bit of a hard time wherever you can, and I appreciate it and embrace it, but that is built on years of trust that all right, I’m gonna roll with it. This is, you know, well played. Just I’ll have my opportunity to lob one back at you at some point. But had this been somebody that I was sitting across from for the first time that might feel like it’s, you know, really, oh, is this person, really somebody that I’m going to get along with? And so there’s, there’s a huge element of trust in here, too.

Katie Vernoy 9:45
Exactly, exactly. And that’s why I did it, of course. You know, I think it’s that element of when we go to correct someone there has to be that relationship, but I think we’re talking very broadly and I want to get into more specifics of that we can actually dig deeper into it. I think when we look at choosing to correct or not correct a client, even using the word correct, I think feels not great to me. Because if in the orientation that I have the client is the expert of their own experience, they’re the expert of their own life. And so if I’m correcting them on how they’re talking about it, and it’s, it’s something that’s irrelevant, I feel like that does, like you’re talking about, diminish trust. It puts an extra space in there. And I want to put that space only when it’s absolutely necessary. So I might correct a client who is bashing themselves, whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s talk about this language, you’re saying that you’re a complete failure, let’s not use that word, let’s, let’s start looking at what you’re trying to describe. Because every time you call yourself a failure, you’re, you’re hurting yourself. So I might correct language there. But I don’t know that I’m gonna say like, Hey, you shouldn’t use ‘fuck’ because I don’t like it. You know, to use a different effort. So so to me, I feel like there’s there’s that that piece of, anytime I tell my client, you’re wrong in any way, directly or indirectly, I agree, I think there has to be trust there. Or else, it destroys the ability to, to have a relationship, or at least have an open relationship.

Curt Widhalm 11:29
But and maybe this is a little bit of a difference of theoretical opinions, that my natural reaction with some of my clients is to still use their language, there’s a part of you calling the overall part of you a complete failure. Or we just empowering that complete failure side of you to take over and look at everything through that way that becomes at least in my opinion, even more affirming of where the client’s at. It’s a different means to the same ends there. But to me, it’s really being able to put it into the the client’s language and their own perceptions of self rather than trying to get them to shut off the parts of them that lead them to being able to speak in those ways. But I think that, you know, this is where at least the chatter in the therapist communities that I see where I see it, in developing therapists talking about it in some of my teaching sort of stuff is when this is language used about people who aren’t the client. And I think that, you know, we, you brought this up, you know, a few minutes ago, but when it’s against a marginalized group, and I really caution that, as a therapist, you’re already in a position of power in the room, but you have to look at the dynamics between you and the client, even the unspoken ones, because as we have a more diverse therapy client population coming in, particularly where some of those extra power positions that therapists in i. I’m a sis white guy, I’ve got some systemic powers and benefits and privileges that already are included in that. But these power differences also are more heightened and and multiplied when we have clients who have other marginalized relationships sitting in the room. And so we have to be very cautious in how we present this because these are the things that affect the therapeutic alliance.

Katie Vernoy 13:31
I agree. And I think that there’s, there’s a piece to that that’s kind of a of course. Of course, we support the therapeutic alliance. Of course, we when we can use the client’s language. And of course, we avoid correcting clients and try to enter their world and how they see it. When someone’s using truly violent or harmful language. We’ve talked about like directed towards the therapist, like the therapist, the person versus folks with identities similar to the therapists are kind of different but but when it’s directed directly towards therapists, we talked about that in other episodes on how you can ethically fire your clients. But when it’s when it’s someone that has similar identities to me, and the and the language being used in the session is objectifying parts of my identity. Whether it’s female or older, or disabled, or whatever it is, like the thing the parts of my identity that either are known or obvious to the client or not. It feels almost disingenuous to not have any response and to join them in that though, to say, Sure, how many bitches have you been with I’m like, I don’t I don’t know that I could do that authentically. But I also don’t want to say well don’t call women bitches. So I guess I’m trying to get into some nuance here because I feel like just living in the client’s world without honoring my own experience at all doesn’t feel quite right. But centering my experience feels wrong.

Curt Widhalm 15:25
And that’s exactly what I’m saying is centering your experience is wrong.

Katie Vernoy 15:31
Sure, but even with some clients, me saying like, hey, that word hit me kind of wrong. As a as a as a human in the room, saying, like, Hey, you just we’re having this conversation. And not like, immediately, like don’t use that word right after they say it, like, process, the content of whatever has been talked about. But then, in an honest, authentic way, how do I show up as not condoning something that potentially is harmful to them? I guess that’s that’s, that’s a that’s another point. But but just me not responding to something that’s clearly objectifying my identity. Doesn’t feel right, either.

Curt Widhalm 16:15
I think that this has to come back to evaluating it through the therapeutic alliance first. Is is this adding on goals that might not necessarily be something at the forefront of a client’s mind. And going back to therapeutic alliance being the client and therapist agree on what the problems are, they agree on the pathway to get there, and client believes therapist has knowledge of how to actually make it work. Now, if this is something where a client is bringing up, you know, a term that is about a marginalized piece of your identity, but it’s about you know, their role with depression, it’s a passing comment, are you interjecting extra goals and extra things that clients not necessarily there for. If it’s, you know, something relational, I’ll pick on, let’s say, the older comment the the part of your identity, or if a teenage client is in there and is saying, you know, hey, all of these older people telling me what to do all of the time, you know, they’re just out of touch Gen Xers who don’t know anything…

Katie Vernoy 17:33
There we go.

Curt Widhalm 17:36
They don’t understand what it’s like to be a college student these days, you know, back when they went to college, things were more lined up, you could do XY and Z, blah, blah, blah. That’s not the way things are anymore. If that’s, you know, something where you’re steering this conversation around, like, Hey, I’m a Gen Xer and I’m not that out of touch and blah, blah, blah, or, you know, that this might be something that, all right, if this is about the client having some self confidence or some ability to do things, this is interjecting a whole different piece of the conversation, that’s centering your experience.

Katie Vernoy 18:11
Sure, I agree. I don’t want to do that. That’s something where those passing comments that are basically even irrelevant, almost to the conversation, or irrelevant to the goal at hand. And honestly, or I mean, that was a little bit milquetoast as far as an insult.

Curt Widhalm 18:34
I mean, yeah. I mean, I’m not going to sit here on the podcast and reinforce, you know, the things that I know I don’t want to have reinforced for people. But it also in doing this, this is also modeling in our own way of, we don’t have to embrace it, we don’t have to center it and put it up on a pedestal is like, Yes, this is the way that we now must talk about it for these 45 minutes. It’s more of like, alright, I don’t have to fully engage in the language, we can still talk about the same things, can talk about you as being a post baby boomer, we can oor a pre millennial. You can you can replace any of the things that I’m talking about as far as a generation here and put it with, you know, any sort of racist or sexist or any other language here.

Katie Vernoy 19:31
Sure, of course, and I think it just viscerally it has a different mechanism. But I think there are things that being able to allow some of those things to float on by and not latch on to them I think is helpful, especially if it doesn’t feel particularly relevant. But if a client for using your example, if a teenage client was like, and I hate my Gen X parent, because they’re awful, they’re like every other Gen X or blah, blah, blah Gen X this Gen X that blah, blah, Gen X Gen X Gen X Gen X processing that leaning into the relationship and then saying, Hey, did you know I was a Gen Xer. And let’s talk about that within the relationship, I think that feels more authentic than saying, Well, what if you knew a fairly cool Gen Xer? Or what if you knew someone that you know, like, whatever it is…

Curt Widhalm 20:24
Yeah, you’re talking about using the relationship at that point, which is a, which is a therapeutic tool to be able to use the way that you’re relating to the client to be able to get them to have a different perspective, as it pertains to the relationship that you have with them.

Katie Vernoy 20:45
But why would that be different if someone were using an objectifying word around my gender, and me, then, after processing it, talking it through trying to explore how it aligns with their values, all the things, and I think we should probably go into that too. But then saying, and this is how that word hit me, as a person of that gender.

Curt Widhalm 21:11
I think that that’s appropriate, if there is the right trust built into and the right reaction and the right plan to be able to utilize that as an intervention.

Katie Vernoy 21:23
Okay, so so someone has to be able to work in the relationship to be able to correct their clients or less, let’s move away from the word correct to discuss problematic language with our client and determine if their client still, help their client determine if they still want to use that language.

Curt Widhalm 21:41
Yes. Because then it is making it about the relationship between the two of you which if it is something that’s impacting the therapeutic alliance, either you or the client should be talking about that. It’s without it, centering it without centering your experience on it, because it’s affecting the therapeutic alliance. And by that point in the relationship, it it’s something that having the trust, having the ability to check back on that therapeutic alliance, all of that feedback informed treatment stuff that we really love here, is being able to process that information together, rather than, you know, particularly early on in therapy, shaming our clients, because they’re potentially expressing themselves in a way that we determined that, because it doesn’t fit with our own personal values, that it needs to be stamped down or is unwelcome.

Katie Vernoy 22:39
So I want to just get more specific on when someone feels like they need to address the language that their client is using. How to do that appropriately, because I think there are there are things that potentially are just inappropriate or not. I’m not open to entertaining for a very long time. And there’s stuff that I can let pass it for a long time, and maybe discuss within the confines of a goal when it becomes relevant. But there are some things that are truly harmful. I’m trying to think of one right now. And I can’t think of one that I could say that I want to say on the podcast. But I think there are things where condoning racism for example, or, or, you know, kind of tacit, you know, tacitly allowing for things that are truly harmful or violent? I think that feels bad. And I can’t think of exactly how to frame that. Maybe I’m going off the rails?

Curt Widhalm 23:44
Well, I’ll give you my perspective on it.

Katie Vernoy 23:47

Curt Widhalm 23:48
I don’t think it changes the conversation here, unless it’s something specifically directed at the therapist because it still comes back to meet the client where they’re at. Because if we as therapists, you know, I’m not condoning racism here. What I’m saying is that we have to have the patience to be able to change clients over time that it’s not going to be necessarily every single thing that they say it’s not moving them halfway across the country in one particular comment, but it’s over time being able to develop the sense of how they’re coming across or how they’re wanting to relate or expressing themselves as a joint goal together. I’m very worried that the more and more that I see these conversations that therapists don’t have enough of their own coping skills to deal with these things coming up in sessions where they feel that they have to shut these clients down for the protection of themselves, you know, their only coping mechanism seems to be I need to to escape working with clients that don’t already agree with my worldview,

Katie Vernoy 25:04
that concerns me as well. I think, although I find it challenging, and both of us being white and having a lot of privilege, I think we may want to carry more of this. And then some of our folks of color or with other marginalized identities, having to deal with racist clients, or homophobic clients or those things where there are specific identities that are being attacked, and that is too traumatic or too hard for a therapist to bear. And so I want to recognize that there are going to be people that have different capacities for different types of clients. And I think racists needs therapists too.

Curt Widhalm 25:46

Katie Vernoy 25:47
We did a whole episode on conspiracy theories and folks that need support when they’re kind of deeply in something that’s truly harmful and offensive. I think the element here is being able to get the skill sets, and the coping skills together to be a therapist during these times. We need to know and understand what language is offensive or violent or harmful, we need to know that so we don’t use that language, we need to understand it. And we still have to be able to sit with it so that we can help others grapple with their own relationships and how they show up in the world. And we have to do both of those things potentially back and forth throughout the day.

Curt Widhalm 26:35
Yes. And it’s being able to use the coping skills before sessions, knowing that particular clients may trigger us in certain ways going through our own preparation for those sessions that may be more challenging, it’s being able to, after those sessions, engaging in the coping skills that allow for us to be able to say, Hey, I was really triggered by that session. And I’m being able to express my feelings about it, either through my own individual coping skills, whether it’s through a supervisor, whether it’s through a colleague of hey, that was really difficult, I need to be able to express this versus taking it out on the client. And I think that, as I’ve seen in our field over the last 15 plus years that I’ve been involved that I’m wondering, you know, is many things that we espouse on this podcast of like, find those clients that work well with us from the beginning, that, you know, have the boundaries of knowing who you’re not going to work with well. If there’s almost too much of a swing in the fields to where it’s now I can only work with clients that are going to be great for me and anybody else can fuck off.

Katie Vernoy 28:01
Yes, yes. And I, I struggle with that, because I want to protect myself from an unsustainable job. I want to protect myself from unnecessary emotional labor. And I want to show up for all types of clients that fit within my expertise. And working with executives, for example, means that I’ve got folks across all different political spectrums. And I’ve, I want to be able to show up for them well, and it means that I absolutely agree I have to have the coping skills for some of the comments, I have to have the coping skills for some of the challenges and some of the the vulnerabilities that clients on all different parts of all different spectrums show. And so if I’m so protective of myself, and I have this client, this tiny, little niche client, yeah, I can help that person. But am I really, is our field really supporting all folks in the way that it needs to? So I guess we’re in complete agreement on that part.

Curt Widhalm 29:19
And then I want to take what you were saying a few minutes ago, and I want to go one step further is when therapists become offended on behalf of marginalized groups that aren’t even represented in the room. Where it’s a lot of the social justice work that we do we encourage as people in this field as Katie and I on this podcast that I don’t love when a client uses a derogatory term about something where neither one of us in the room have anything to do with that particular field. And let’s say somebody is using a derogatory term about LGBTQ plus people, says sis het, clients, I’m sis het therapist, it’s not something that, again, I’m going to encourage, elevate, even necessarily repeat. But I do have my worries that therapists will stop everything and not even have something about their relationship to interject on. No, no, we need to correct this. That also is a part of this conversation.

Katie Vernoy 30:31
I think it speaks to the desire to correct things in all spaces that we can’t stand for injustice anywhere. And there is a nuance here that I’m still trying to explore. And there are times and I it sounds like I probably do this more than you do, there are times when I will look for an appropriate time within the conversation, within the relationship. And assuming that there’s appropriate context, it’s relevant in some way to the goals, I might do some psychoeducation. And do it lightly. You know, whether it’s on LGBTQ plus folks and saying, Hey, you said this earlier, and I just wanted to correct a mis misunderstanding that you had there. Or, or just kind of, Hey, did you want to know more about that? Because it seemed like it was something that you didn’t have all the information on. Something along those lines, like, I feel like there are opportunities for education, that I don’t want to pass up just because I don’t want to challenge the client on something that’s irrelevant to their treatment goals. I want to look at them as a holistic person and say, Hey, is this something that could hurt them in some way? Is this something where kind of would they want to know that that is an offensive term? Or would they want to know that that is misinformation that they’re that they’re espousing? And look at? Is it relevant to the goals? Or is it neutral to the goals? If it’s contradictory to the goals? And it’s going to hurt the relationship? Absolutely not. But if it’s neutral to the goals, I actually sound like, it sounds like I would step forward a little bit more than you would to say like, let me just give you a little bit of education on that. Not stop everything that like, whoa, whoa, whoa, you just use an offensive word, stop everything. Stop crying, we gotta We gotta stop. No, I’m not going to do that. But providing some education, some additional information for their, for their reference.

Curt Widhalm 32:43
And I, again, want people to measure what the relationship is to bring up these questions. And, and I think that the risk of this having the most negative impact comes very early on in treatment. I think that, you know, with clients who I’ve known for months or years that know that we are working really well together, clients are giving really high session feedback scores, there’s going to be more permission to have some of these Boundary Crossings be explored. But you, as the therapist in the room need to put your issues to the side to be able to evaluate how does this come across to the client in the way that I bring it up to them? This isn’t a carte blanche, don’t do it. It’s not a do it every single time. It’s that really frustrating answer. It depends. And has, like Katie said earlier in the episode, a ton of nuance to it.

Katie Vernoy 33:47
Well, and just to add one more piece to that, because I agree with all the things that you said. But I think that the one additional piece that I’m saying is staying complacent in their language, because they might be offended that you educate them on it, I think is also potentially harmful as well. I think it’s so it’s such a tight space for some folks. But I think recognizing that that language that they’re using right here right now is harmful to others, and could be harmful to them. They may have no interest in knowing that. And they may have no one to give them that feedback. And so finding a way to provide some supportive feedback, or education, I think could be helpful and it could be detrimental if you don’t find those opportunities.

Curt Widhalm 34:37
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this. You can follow us on our social media or join us in our Facebook group, Modern Therapist group. Let us know how this has come up with you and your practices and ways that you’ve managed it. And you can check out our show notes over at And until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy

Katie Vernoy 35:00
Thanks again to our sponsor Turning Point.

Curt Widhalm 35:03
Wanted to tell you a little bit more about our sponsor Turning Point. Turning Point is a financial planning and coaching firm that helps therapists stop worrying about money. Dave at Turning Point will help you navigate every aspect of your financial life from practice financials and personal budgeting to investing, taxes and student loans. He’ll help you move through that feeling of being stuck, frustrated and overwhelmed, and arrive at a place where you feel relief, validation, motivation and hope.

Katie Vernoy 35:32
And for listeners of The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide, you’ll receive $200 off the price of any service. Just enter promo code ‘moderntherapist’ and be sure and visit and download the free white paper 7 Money Mindset Shifts to Reduce Financial Anxiety. Thanks again to Turning Point.

Curt Widhalm 35:52
This episode is also brought to you by OOTify.

Katie Vernoy 35:56
“OOT” or “uth” (उठ) means “lift up” in the Hindi language. OOTify is a digital health solution that acts as an evidence based hub to unify relevant mental health resources. Community, Connection and Collaboration are critical to OOTify as they lift the mental health care system. They ensure providers are part of the process. OOTify is a platform for providers built by providers and owned by providers. OOTify is a process of lifting up mental health care while lifting each other up.

OOTify 36:27
We need to talk about our mental health. We need to make our mental health stronger so we can withstand the things that happen in our life. We’re gonna go through trials and tribulations. But if we can work on our mental health, proactively our wellness, we can handle all that as a community and come together. People are more open to talk about these stories and say, Hey, listen, I’m going through this too. Do you want to be a part of the solution by joining a new web three community focused on mental health and wellness? Join the OOTify community as an investor or mental health provider by visiting You can also give us a follow on social media to stay tuned on exciting updates.

Announcer 37:09
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