GoodTherapy.org Adopts ‘They’ as Singular Pronoun

Empty speech bubble on chalkboardIn recognition of genders existing outside the male-female binary, GoodTherapy.org will now use the general singular “they” in publications throughout our site. “They” and “theirs” will replace “she or he” and “his or hers” in those places where a singular pronoun is appropriate for use and the gender of the person in question is not specified. This usage supports the move away from a male-female gender binary in welcome acceptance of those who do not identify as male or female or with any particular gender.

In the past, singular “they” has been used by GoodTherapy.org writers and editors in specific reference to agender, genderqueer, and other non-binary individuals, in reflection of the American Psychological Association’s guidelines for language free of bias. However, GoodTherapy.org recognizes that the use of gendered pronouns elsewhere on the site excludes those individuals who do not identify as either male or female.

The English language currently lacks a gender-neutral pronoun, and the main—perhaps the only—argument against singular “they” is its ungrammatical nature. Grammar guides typically advise writing around it, though its usage dates back over 600 years (Authors such as William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Jane Austen used the pronoun widely).

However, earlier this month the American Dialect Society chose singular “they” as Word of the Year. This choice reflects the importance of placing a person’s identity over grammatical convention. Thus, in the spirit of our mission and vision—putting people first as they search for mental health information and treatment—we at GoodTherapy.org have chosen to follow the lead of publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post and use singular “they” as an all-inclusive pronoun throughout our site.

References:

  1. Lee, C. (2015, November 16). APA Style Blog: The Use of Singular “They” in APA Style. Retrieved from http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2015/11/the-use-of-singular-they-in-apa-style.html
  2. Nunberg, G. (2016, January 13). Everyone Uses Singular ‘They,’ Whether They Realize It Or Not. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2016/01/13/462906419/everyone-uses-singular-they-whether-they-realize-it-or-not

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  • Sutton

    Sutton

    January 22nd, 2016 at 7:22 AM

    This will probably be a hard one for me to embrace only because years of grammar has taught me that using “they” is wrong in those instances. But the times, they are a’ changin

  • Loni

    Loni

    January 22nd, 2016 at 8:34 AM

    There will be so many who will rejoice at this, and I am one of those supporters! This is definitely a move in the right direction,and I would expect nothing less from your team of open minded contributors and readers alike.

  • Gary N

    Gary N

    January 23rd, 2016 at 6:36 AM

    Can someone help me understand why some psychotherapists are so bent on reinforcing delusional thinking? Per the DSM, a delusions are “fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence. ” If you are physically human and “self-identify” as a unicorn, you are delusional and need therapy. The same is true of gender, which easily confirmed by naked-eye observation and genetic analysis. This ignoring of reality in favor of trendy pandering to gender-conflicted individuals will not lead our profession, or our culture, in a positive direction.

  • Candice

    Candice

    January 23rd, 2016 at 12:52 PM

    Well the one thing that I can say about this is that there should be far fewer hurt feelings with people who are trying but still unintentionally choose the wrong pronoun to use.

  • bryson

    bryson

    January 25th, 2016 at 8:55 AM

    Had any negative feedback over this?

  • Abby

    Abby

    January 25th, 2016 at 2:59 PM

    @bryson- the only negative feedback is probably going to come from haters anyway so who cares?

  • Maxine

    Maxine

    January 26th, 2016 at 10:49 AM

    sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest differences in this world. I think that this could be one of those things :)

  • Gary N

    Gary N

    January 26th, 2016 at 3:47 PM

    Abby, exactly what do you mean by “haters?” That sounds like a pretty hateful label you are so quick to toss around.

  • Abby

    Abby

    January 28th, 2016 at 8:12 AM

    @Gary N… I was actually the one trying to be a little more inclusive. Anyone who puts up a fuss about all of this probably has deeper issues and concerns than just which pronoun is being used. Does that offend you?

  • Gary

    Gary

    January 28th, 2016 at 9:16 AM

    Whether it offends me isn’t the issue. The issue is you a priori labeled anyone who might take issue with this as a “hater,” without defining what you mean by that label. This is hardly being “inclusive,” and it certainly doesn’t show respect for diversity of thought on this issue.

  • Sherri

    Sherri

    March 2nd, 2016 at 9:50 AM

    It may seem awkward or difficult to make the switch to “they”, but it really gets easier over time and makes a big difference to those who prefer gender neutral pronouns. Being comfortable and feeling respected in a relationship, whether friendships, family or yes, counselling relationships, is important and this is one really easy way to help!

  • Deborah

    Deborah

    March 28th, 2016 at 10:31 AM

    As a GT member and the mom of an agender kid whose pronoun is “they,” I want to express my appreciation!

  • margaret

    margaret

    April 24th, 2016 at 7:12 PM

    I feel such deep gratitude for this!

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