Our Terminology

At River Oaks Psychology, you matter to us.

Your personal identity is extremely important. We are accepting of all identities, genders, sexualities, abilities, sexualities, ethnicities, races, and other forms of difference. We want to create safe spaces for everyone where you may identify in whatever way feels most authentic to you. That’s why we ask you upon beginning treatment how you would like to identify and what terminology you are most comfortable with.

Questions we may ask:

  • What are your pronouns? What name should I use?
  • What would you like us to know about your identity?
  • If you hold a minority identity, are you more comfortable with person-first language or identity-first language?
  • Are you more comfortable with the term patient, client, or another word?

We’re happy to refer to you in whatever way you prefer!

Why we use "patient" in our office paperwork:

  • We are professional mental health clinicians committed to treating your mental health, just as physical health professionals treat your physical health.

  • We are committed to collaborating with you as partners in your healing process while simultaneously providing evidence-based health services for symptom reduction. This is similar to physical or occupational therapists partnering with their “patients” – positioning you as a key partner while also utilizing the training and expertise of the practitioner.

  • We believe mental health is equal in importance to physical health, and we are working against stigmas that place mental health below physical health.

  • We understand that perceived negative connotations associated with the term “mental health patient” were developed because of FALSE stereotypes and stigmas that historically hurt people struggling with mental health. We firmly reject those stereotypes and stigmas. We want to change the connotations of mental health terminology. NOBODY is “crazy.” Mental and emotional pain is REAL and VALID. We seek to honor the very real struggles that many people face. We view therapy as a safe, normal, accepted place that can help people experiencing legitimate pain find healing and more life fulfillment.

  • We appreciate and deeply embody the elements of care, compassion, treatment, healing, and responsibility implicit in the term “patient.” We truly want you to feel intimately connected to us, and we want to take accountability for assessing, monitoring, and treating your mental health.

  • We believe the term “client” is equal to “customer” and feels parallel to the clients of a hairdresser or tax advisor. Your mental health treatment is not merely a business transaction. It is an integral part of your quality of life and ability to truly live your best life possible.

  • Some people struggle to prioritize their mental health and may underestimate how therapy could help them. However, when properly facilitated by a licensed professional, therapy has been clinically proven to produce remarkable results for patients. Using proper terminology like “patient” and “treatment” helps to elevate the legitimacy of therapy and can help people view therapy as equal in importance to other healthcare appointments.

  • And, out of respect for our colleagues practicing therapy, we believe in elevating the legitimacy and respect for mental health professionals everywhere in the world by positioning them on an equal level to physical health professionals.