But as I grew older and wiser and my knowledge base widened over years of sitting with people, doing additional training both for Continuing Professional Development as well as deepening my interest in many other fields which we did not receive in- depth training in(such a embodied psychotherapy, Mindfulness-based approaches, etc), I have come to appreciate what "patient" really means: someone who is suffering. And is it not true that every therapeutic encounter and intervention is about relieving suffering?
Every person sitting on my coach, is someone who is suffering. So that referring to him or her as a patient actually shows the deepest form of respect and awareness of that. Therapy is not simply a consultation where the therapist dishes out advice and guidelines to live a happy life: in that case "client" would be appropriate. Or if I am approached to coach someone through a life transition or workplace issue, I happily use "client".
But when I talk about patients, it is with a deep awareness of the suffering, the psychological woundedness, and the need for being cared for if not cured in the safety of the therapeutic hour. As therapists we need to be able to hold the space for such suffering to be spoken about and sometimes sit helpless in the face of utter pain, simply witnessing such suffering. I often remind myself of how therapy is really about helping people to tolerate the previous intolerable, to help people distinguish between unavoidable suffering and suffering we inadvertently create for ourselves ironically as we seek relief from pain and suffering.
So yes, I think and talk about people who come to me for therapy as Patients. This has not prevented me from entering the therapy space in a collaborative way, of meeting people as equals. After all, I too, have been a patient on a coach and suffer in similar ways, sometimes simply by being human in an intrinsically unsafe and unpredictable world.
(Another site where I've posted this: https://ronellehartblogspot.wordpress.com/