Group therapy talk

My friend Max Vasilatos was recently asked (for complex reasons that aren’t relevant here) to supply, to a mutual friend, expressions that would be typical of group therapist talk in the United States. She — yes, Max is a woman — brought the topic up at a lunch last week with Ned Deily and me, and we started cataloguing jargony platitudes. A few are below:

Use your words.
We own our feelings here.
Remember, when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.
We’re not here to take each other’s inventory.
Now we will do a trust exercise.
This is a safe space where you can say anything, anything at all.
There is no such thing as a stupid question.

(The last two of these are usually followed, in a matter of minutes, by a judgmental pronouncement from the therapist.)

The point is not to make an inventory of these, but to remark on something that transfixed us early on: reciting these expressions is like producing those evil bits of music that you can’t get out of your head: earworms. They’re catchphrase earworms. As Max said to her correspondent: “Now I’m going to be thinking of these all day, damn you, you evil person!”

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