Why Therapists Avoid Using the Word ‘Toxic’

Labeling others can stunt your own growth

Kathleen Smith
Forge

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Illustration: Malte Mueller/Getty Images

OOne of my most important rules as a therapist: Ignore all adjectives. When one of my clients says someone in their life is selfish, or cold, or hot-tempered, it doesn’t tell me much about the problem. Adjectives aren’t facts.

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Kathleen Smith
Forge

Kathleen Smith is a therapist and author of the books Everything Isn’t Terrible and True to You. She writes about anxiety, relationships, and Bowen theory.