Chrissy Orson

Is it OK to swear in therapy or do I need to behave myself?

Chrissy Orson

Is it ok to swear?

So, as well as providing coaching and therapy for adults, I work with young people, and this question is asked way more than you would think!  Is it OK to swear in here?

Safe Space

The therapy room is a safe space where you can et your thoughts and emotions run free.  But does that mean you should let your language run free too? 

The green light for expletives may well depend on your therapist’s style.  Some are fairly relaxed and open to a more casual style whereas others may lean to the more traditional, well-mannered conversation.  It might be worth having a chat with them in your initial conversation, especially if you know that you’re not averse to the occasional ‘f’ word which some may find offensive.  I suspect not many will mind, however the last thing you want is to feel like you’ve got to put on a front to the very person who you’re trying to be honest about your thoughts, beliefs and experiences with.

It might differ from therapist to therapist or coach to coach, but for me personally, I couldn’t give a monkey’s about the language you use.  Plus, you’d really have to go some to shock me!  I’ve worked in mental health hospitals, prisons, schools and children’s homes – there is quite literally nothing I’ve not heard!

Context is Key

That being said, the context of your language matters as much as the words themselves.  Swearing as a form of self-expressions or to emphasise a point?  Absolutely go for it – use your imagination and go wild if you need to!

But if you’re using expletives as a weapon, to demean others or simply to shock?  I will bring this to your attention for an open discussion.  Therapy is a place to grow and explore and if you’re unaware that this is how your language or communication is being received by others, it’s likely to be important that it’s brought to your attention.

Why Swear Then?

Well sometimes, there’s just no better way to encapsulate the rawness of an emotional or experience than with a good old swear word!  I’ve had clients who had been conditioned to behave and speak a certain way, and to repress emotions which were deemed ‘unsuitable’ by authority figures.  For these individuals, beginning to utilise expletives to express the reality of their experience was a huge turning point in their journey!

Plus, on a lighter note – let’s not forget that the English language is full of glorious choices of words and expletives.  As an English graduate I say that some moments really do benefit from a bit of linguistic flair!

So the verdict? It’s not really a black and white answer.  It’s a discussion as colourful as some language choices.  Whilst therapy is a place to express yourself authentically there are still some boundaries and context to consider.  You may also wish to think about asking your coach or therapist for their views on swearing in the space.

Ultimately, the therapeutic space is yours to be genuine and explore your emotions.  So, whether you choose to keep it squeaky clean or not, make sure it’s a reflection of your authentic self.  That’s the most important thing you can bring to any self-exploration and development work.  Find your voice and keep it real!