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May 16, 2022

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.

Transcripts for this episode will be available at!

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


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OOTify. "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 healthcare system, they ensure providers are part of the process. OOTIFY is a platform for providers, built by providers, and owned by providers. OOTIFY is the process of lifting up mental healthcare, while lifting each other up.

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 going to 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 be 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.


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:

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:

Katie 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