When I talk about what I do, I often see some confusion on the different titles and licenses we have in the mental health field. I am a clinical social worker. I am proud to call myself a social worker, and yet so many don’t know what I do or make some interesting assumptions about what social workers do. I tend to default to “therapist” because I am not a licensed professional counselor. But if I say, “I am a therapist,” then I have the follow-up question, “Oh? What kind?” as we have physical therapists, occupational therapists, and the like. I wasn’t sure if the correct response to ‘what kind?’ was to say mental health therapist or psychotherapist or something else. Often, people are familiar with the term counselor, and that fits as well. Licensed professional counselors are a fair equivalent to clinical social workers (at least in my state, Texas). When someone asks what I do, it is hard to know how much time they care to listen to an answer. Usually, I like to keep things simple.
I found an answer I like, though. I looked up the etymology of psychotherapist and counselor. Psychotherapy comes from psyche, which is breath, spirit, or soul, plus therapy which is healing. Counselor is one who gives counsel or advice. I don’t know how you react to these two, but I had a clear winner. While I sometimes offer advice, I avoid it so the client can find their own answers within. I love seeing myself as providing a space for soul healing.