Therapist Reveals Her 3 Biggest Pet Peeves About Mental Health Care

By focusing on mental health, we get to know ourselves better. In therapy, we are given the space to identify the patterns that serve us and the patterns that hold us back. We can delve deeply into our past, consider our future, and do the hard work of healing.

Social media has opened up a wealth of information about mental health, which has both positive and negative consequences. Putting mental health at the center of online conversations helps to reduce stigma, but it can also distill and oversimplify certain parts of mental health work.

Steph, a mental health content creator and certified family therapist, shared how much she loves the mental health industry, but also described some elements she doesn’t like.

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

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

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

Steph shared a saying that is one of her pet peeves: “Connecting to the present moment brings you peace.”

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“The only thing the present moment brings you is connection with what is present,” she clarified. “What is present is often many, many, many things, like hunger, physical pain, emotional pain, many thoughts at once.”

“I think it’s misleading to create the expectation that the present moment will bring you peace, and that we still have to practice getting in touch with it,” she said.

Steph makes a valuable point, which is that we don’t always feel calm.

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We can’t expect to be completely comfortable all the time. A key part of mental health work is recognizing that it’s okay to live with that discomfort. In fact, it’s necessary.

We can’t move through harder emotions if we don’t allow ourselves to experience them. By staying connected to our present, we can truly feel the full depth of our feelings, even when they’re not calm.

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2. Giving compliments instead of affirmation

Steph noted how much she values ​​the practice of validation, saying, “I think it’s amazing and it can improve the relationship immensely.”

“It’s difficult, because compliments can actually be disempowering,” she says.

In a separate post, she delved deeper into the difference between affirmation and praise.

“Pray is about creating a positive or uplifting mood or emotional space,” she said. “Validation is a process of helping someone understand and reflect back that their emotional experience is meaningful.”

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

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

“You put yourself in their shoes and try to figure out how it makes sense,” she said.

3. Therapists who do not respect secondary emotions

“This can actually happen quite often in relationship therapy, especially in the therapy that I practice, which is emotion-focused therapy,” Steph said, before explaining secondary and primary emotions.

“People show anger [and] “Annoyance, but inside, down there, the primary emotion is that they feel scared or sad,” she said.

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

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

“This is something I’ve worked on a lot and I’m really happy with how I’ve been able to deal with it,” she said, noting that it’s a different set of skills and interventions to learn.

Recognizing how powerful secondary emotions can be means accepting that they exist at all. You don’t have to ignore them in order to get to the heart of someone’s emotional experience.

Steph’s frustrations underscore that no community is perfect. Every space has its flaws, even if the people in it are doing a good job. By being open about the aspects of the mental health space she doesn’t like, Steph normalizes imperfection, which is always healing.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on the news and entertainment team at YourTango. She writes about social issues, pop culture, and all things entertainment.

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