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It's All Semantics

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During the 1990s a movement was afoot in the mental health field to change the nomenclature of the therapist-patient relationship.  Advocates urged a movement away from "patient" to the term "client" and then, dissatisfied with that, argued for the term "mental health consumer."  Somehow the new terminology never stuck with most doctors and therapists: it seemed to equate the therapist-patient relationship with the consumption of goods rather than signifying the professional nature of the relationship.  After all, we're not talking about movie popcorn here.  As it's often said, words do matter.  Which is why a new study in the current issue of the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology seems oddly titled: Sex Offender Treatment: Consumer Satisfaction and Engagement in Therapy

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Do you mean "client" never stuck or "mental health consumer" never stuck? It was my impression that "client" did indeed stick among mental health professionals who are not MDs, i.e., psychologists, clinical social workers, and marriage and family therapists. The idea was to imply their relationship was more like the attorney-client relationship and less like the doctor-patient relationship.

The further the issue gets from real mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia), the more that makes sense.

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