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Unpacking the Trend: The Risks of Overusing Therapy Buzzwords like 'Triggered'

In recent years, the world of therapy and mental health has seen an influx of buzzwords that have become commonplace in everyday conversations. One such term is 'triggered.' Originally coined within psychological and therapeutic contexts, the term has found its way into everyday speech and social media platforms, often losing its nuanced meaning in the process.

While using therapy buzzwords can help us raise awareness about mental health and open up positive conversations around mental health, there are significant risks associated with their overuse and misuse. In this article, we'll explore the phenomenon of overusing therapy buzzwords, particularly 'triggered,' and why it's essential to use these terms responsibly and empathetically.

The Evolution of 'Triggered'

The term 'triggered' originated in the field of psychology, specifically within the context of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It referred to an emotional or psychological response triggered by a specific stimulus that reminded an individual of a traumatic experience. In therapeutic settings, the term helps clinicians and patients communicate about intense emotional reactions and provided a common language for understanding trauma triggers.

The Increase of Buzzwords

In an age of social media and online communication, language spreads rapidly, and certain words or phrases gain popularity almost overnight. 'Triggered' is a prime example of this phenomenon. While the term initially served a specific clinical purpose, it has since been co-opted for comedic or dramatic effect in online interactions. The allure of using buzzwords lies in their ability to express complex emotions or experiences into short terms. However, this simplicity comes at a cost.

On social media, we all endlessy scroll at times and get sucked into reels, posts and people's feeds. I very often hear 'I seen x on social media and they triggered me', whilst for some individual's that live with PTSD this can and may be their reality but for other's who are labelling their experience as though they've been triggered because they struggle to express their emotional state this can be a prime example of when the term 'triggered' is being misused. In therapy I teach clients to label and express their emotions by using 'The Feelings Wheel', by learning to label your emotions it will make it easier to experience them.

The Feelings Wheel - created by Dr. Gloria Willcox 1982

The Dangers of the Overuse of Buzzwords

  1. Trivialisation of Trauma: Overusing the term 'triggered' risks trivialising the experiences of individuals who genuinely suffer from trauma or mental health conditions. Reducing the term to a mere punchline erases the gravity of PTSD and other psychological struggles.

  2. Minimisation of Emotions: When we throw around buzzwords without thought, we risk downplaying the intensity of genuine emotions. What may seem like an overreaction to one person might be a genuine and profound emotional response for someone else.

  3. Barrier to Open Dialogue: The overuse of therapy buzzwords can create a barrier to meaningful conversations about mental health. When terms lose their clinical significance, people may hesitate to share their true experiences due to fear of not being taken seriously.

  4. Stigmatisation: Misusing therapy terms can reinforce stigmas around mental health. If 'triggered' is consistently used in a mocking or dismissive manner, it can discourage people from seeking help for legitimate mental health concerns.

Using Therapy Buzzwords Responsibly & Empathetically

  1. Educate Yourself: Take the time to understand the original meaning and context of therapy buzzwords before using them. This knowledge will help you use these terms more responsibly and empathetically.

  2. Be Mindful of Context: Consider the context in which you're using therapy buzzwords. Is it appropriate to use such terms in a lighthearted conversation, or would a more respectful approach be better?

  3. Practice Empathy: Remember that individuals have different lived experiences, and what might seem trivial to you could be a deeply distressing issue for someone else. Practice empathy and sensitivity in your language.

  4. Promote Real Conversations: Instead of relying on buzzwords, encourage open and honest discussions about mental health. Create a safe space where individuals can share their experiences without fear of judgment or mockery.

Therapy buzzwords, like 'triggered,' have become a double-edged sword. While they can raise awareness about mental health and foster discussions, their overuse and misuse can lead to a excess of negative consequences. To truly support those navigating mental health challenges, we must treat these terms with respect and use them responsibly.

Let's get better at educating ourselves, practicing empathy and extending it to those around us, this will encourage meaningful conversations, where we can ensure that the language we use contributes positively to the dialogue surrounding mental health.

If you are really struggling reaching out to a professional can be the best step to take. The Flawed Journey provides a FREE 30 Minute Consultation which can be the first step towards finding the best care for you.

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