There is a most important difference between treatment and therapy.

Treat, from the Latin tractare, means “to act or behave in a specified manner toward,” for example, to treat one’s guests with courtesy. By extension, it means to give medical aid, for example, treating appendicitis by performing an appendectomy: finding out what is wrong and then acting on it in a specified manner.

In contradistinction, therapy comes from a Greek word meaning “inclined to serve, to attend on, to be obedient to.” Rather than being the manager, as is the treater, the therapist is the servant, the attendant. He does not impose his power, but rather acts as a servant for the Life Energy, the patient’s healing power within, which we all possess.

For every illness begins as a loss of Life Energy, of the patient’s will to be well. If this is not corrected, it will eventually reach clinical proportions. And once it has, if treatment is imposed, there can only ever be a reduction of symptoms, never a true cure, because treatment as such does not actuate the Life Energy. In fact, it all too frequently further diminishes it, potentially predisposing the patient to greater potential suffering.

While treatment provides symptom relief, it is therapy that therefore provides the ultimate cure. The crucial test is not whether the patient just gets superficially better, but, far more importantly, has his Life Energy been significantly enhanced? Has he been helped to embrace Life? Has he been helped to love?

One person who understood this was the great, little remembered psychiatrist, Louis Cholden, M.D., who died tragically young in a car accident. Cholden wrote that the role of the doctor was to be “an accessory in the service of nature’s healing forces,” adding:

“The therapist must constantly keep in mind – medicus curat, natura sanat, the doctor looks after, nature heals – that he is not curing a disease. Rather he is creating an environment of safety, trust in people and faith in living, which allows the natural forces of health within his patient to flourish.”[1]

I have known some medical doctors, even some surgeons, who really were therapists, like Louis Cholden, not just treaters. And of course I have also known many so-called therapists who are really only treaters (although I believe that most of the treaters entered their chosen profession to become a therapist, but a specific trauma occurred that caused them to lose their therapeutic zeal).

Their modality itself is of little importance: so much depends on the individual practitioner. Does he have therapeutic aspiration? Does he see himself as, to quote Cholden,“an accessory in the service of nature’s healing forces”? Does he attempt to create for his patients “an environment of safety, trust in people and faith in living”? If so, he is a therapist not a treater.


[1] “Observations on Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia” in Progress in Psychotherapy 1956, ed. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann and J. L. Moreno. Grune & Stratton, New York. 1956. p. 245-246.

Author's Bio: 

John Diamond M.D. graduated from Sydney University Medical School in 1957 and was awarded his Diploma in Psychological Medicine in 1962. He is a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry, a Foundation Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, a Diplomate of the International College of Applied Kinesiology and is a Fellow and past President of the International Academy of Preventive Medicine. He is an Honorary Advisor to the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation and their Japanese sister organization, the Koushikai Foundation.

One of the foremost holistic healers, Dr. Diamond’s remarkable body of work, which includes his discovery of the link between the acupuncture meridians and the emotions, embraces a wide range of disciplines, the result of over fifty years of research and clinical practice. He began his career in psychiatry but expanded into holistic medicine, concentrating on the totality of the sufferer. In his fifty years of practice, his work has increasingly focused on the activation of a person’s Life Energy, the healing power within, as the basis of true health. With his increasing involvement with this concept, his research has led him to concentrate on the enhancement of the sufferer’s Life Energy so as to actuate his own innate Healing Power.

Dr. Diamond has held numerous senior clinical and university teaching appointments in clinical psychiatry, the basic sciences and the humanities, and is a widely recognized bestselling author of over thirty-five books, including Your Body Doesn’t Lie, Life Energy: Unlocking the Hidden Power of Your Emotions to Achieve Well-Being, The Diamond Color Meditation, Facets of a Diamond: Reflections of a Healer and numerous books on music and healing. He has a large international following, and his books have been translated into a number of languages including German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Japanese, Greek, and – most recently – Russian.

Dr. Diamond lectures and teaches throughout the world and has given over 1000 seminars, lectures and presentations to numerous medical associations, dental associations and societies as well as other professional organizations in the U.S. and abroad. He has recently conducted seminars in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Bologna, Tokyo, and London.

Dr. Diamond now practices as a Holistic Consultant and blends his experience in medicine, psychiatry, complementary medicine, the humanities, holism, applied kinesiology, acupuncture theory, spirituality and the arts to help sufferers overcome problems relating to body, mind and spirit. He has also used creativity for many years, regarding it as an essential and major component of healing, and has founded The Institute for Music and Health and The Institute for Life Energy and Creativity to train those interested in learning how to use the arts as a therapeutic modality. He resides in New York.