Are you a consumer or a client?

I was part of meeting today called to discuss uniting peer specialists in Milwaukee and one person mentioned an idea that set several of us on edge when she said she works in a case management program with several clients. You would have thought she had said the “N” word. The term consumer is often seen as more politically correct by peer specialists The term clients is usually reserved for clinicians to use. One person said that client implies that we have a business relationship with these people and yes, we do.

We are not meeting with them because we are their friends. We are being paid by our agencies. Moreover, some people consider the term consumer to be passive as if one is merely eating mental health services. The relationship is contractual and we have certain mutual obligations. And yet careful readers will note that I have generally used the term consumer and stayed away from client or patient. All three of these words are scattered across the paperwork that we use so I thought I would mention this to my readers and find out what you have been using and why. Out with it.


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