Client (business)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In business, commerce, and economics, a client is a person who receives advice or services from a professional, such as a lawyer or a health care provider. Clients differ from customers in that customers are thought of as "one-time buyers" while clients can be seen as "long-term recipients",[1] and customers buy goods as well as services.


The term client is derived from Latin clientem or clinare meaning "to incline" or "to bend", the same root as many other similar words such as climate and incline.[2]

By field[edit]

Health and social care[edit]

Clients of health care providers are generally called patients, though it is not uncommon for therapists to use the word client.[3] In a social care context, recipients of services are often referred to as "service users".[4][5]

Therapeutic relationships are subject to requirements of confidentiality, meaning that therapists are not to disclose information shared by their clients during sessions, to those not involved in the session. However, there are a number of exceptions in which a therapist can and must "break" the confidentiality, such as when the information suggests that the client poses an immediate threat to themselves or to others.[6][7]


Lawyers and attorneys also have clients, although the UK's Solicitors Regulation Authority refers to those who use legal services as "customers".[8] An important aspect of a lawyer's job is developing and managing relationships with clients or, if the lawyer works for a government agency or corporation, the client's employees. Lawyers give legal advice to their clients as part of the legal process.[9]


  1. ^ "What Is the Difference Between a Customer Vs. a Client?". Chron. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  2. ^ "Client origin and meaning of client". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  3. ^ "Patients or Clients?". August 4, 2013.
  4. ^ Health and Care Professions Council, Service user and carer involvement, accessed 24 October 2023
  5. ^ Bellcare (2012), Service User Guide, accessed 24 October 2023
  6. ^ Stone, Alan (December 1976). "The Tarasoff Decisions: Suing Psychotherapists to Safeguard Society". Harvard Law Review. 90 (2): 358–378. doi:10.2307/1340158. JSTOR 1340158. PMID 1028678.
  7. ^ Welfel, Elizabeth Reynolds (2016). Ethics in counseling and psychotherapy : standards, research, and emerging issues (6th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Cengage Learning. p. 129. ISBN 9781305089723.
  8. ^ Solicitors Regulation Authority, Customer reviews, published 11 February 2021, accessed 30 August 2022
  9. ^ Ellman, Stephen (1987). "Lawyers and Clients". UCLA Law Review. 34: 717.