Those working the field of psychology are generically called either a therapist or counselor. Each of these titles present interesting histories.

Therapist is from a Greek word meaning minister to or to heal. Thus the title physical therapist makes a great deal of sense, it belongs to those who minister to or heal the body. It is interesting that we use the word Doctor to describe someone who heals the body. This however is the result of university politics at its best.

doctor in it’s original meaning is one who can teach, who can explain a doctrine. Thus in strange reversal teachers are real doctors and doctors are actually therapists. Hopefully I have created in the reader the same moment of confusion and weirdness that exists in people I met when my answer to, “What’s your job?” is “I’m a therapist.” They are usually confused as to whether or not I am a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or psycho therapist.

The word counselor has its own convoluted set of associations. Originally the word simply meant to advise. Advise like counsel is a Latin word and most literally means to speak toward. Thus advice is something spoken toward another.

This is why lawyers, those who speak to the matters of the law, are called counselors. This is also why senior diplomats, those who speak about how two countries can get along,  are called counselors. The psychological counselor speaks to matters of the soul. What is more the counselor who specializes in Marriage and Family Therapy speaks to how we can better relate to others.

The work of a Psychotherapist or Counselor is found at the meeting of these two words, where the work of healing and advising intersect.

By speaking to what is universal in the clients experience the psychologist is an agent of healing and by healing he enables that soul to speak rightly about his experience.

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