Why do you refer to ‘patients’?

Although in many countries the practice of psychoanalysis has come to be associated with the medical field, psychoanalytic sessions are nothing like seeing a doctor. Some people feel uncomfortable thinking of themselves as ‘patients’ in psychotherapy or analysis, which is why many counsellors and therapists use the term ‘clients’.

I refer to ‘analysands’ or ‘patients’. The Greek and Latin roots of the word ‘patient’ refer to someone who is suffering. Most people who seek out therapy are suffering, even if this may not be obvious to others, and sometimes not even to themselves. There is nothing shameful about being in pain. It is part of being human.

A ‘client’ is someone engaged in a business transaction who pays money in order to be entitled to receive an object or specified service. Psychoanalysis does not sell health or happiness. It offers a unique and intensely personal experience by creating a space for exploration and growth, but how exactly this space is taken up varies so immensely that calling it a business transaction would be misleading.