Recently, on social media, I published a post about how you could earn an extra £10,000 per annum in your private practice. And it certainly got people talking. Counsellors saying, yes, they’d love to earn that much. Some therapists saying, it’s not that easy. And still others saying, therapy isn’t about the money.

As you can hear, a lot of different opinions there. So in this episode, let’s talk all about seas. First off, I’d like to say, in over 5 years of running my Facebook group, Good Enough Counsellors, I’ve discovered there are a couple of subjects that can really divide people. One is all about the BACP, which I have no intention of talking about here. And the other is about paid work versus volunteering.

Honestly, this subject really does seem to trigger reactions in people. People feel very strongly about it. So in this episode, I’m going to talk about charging fees in your private practice and cover some of the difficulties that I’ve heard about from the counsellors that I work with. If you’re in the process of setting your fees, or thinking about raising your fees, you may like to know that I have a handy fee calculator tool on my website. Just visit, and click on the resources tab, and you’ll be able to find the link.

You input how much you need to earn, the number of clients you’d like to see, your expenses, and it will give you a calculation of what fee will meet your income needs. It is a rough and ready calculator. It’s income before tax is deducted, but it’s a handy way to check if you’re charging too little or too much. I suspect if you’re a therapist, it may well be too little. So head over to the website,

Click on the resources tab to find out whether or not you’re undercharging. Now why is the subject of paid work so controversial? And why did my social media post on earning an income of 10 k make people comment? Well, first off, there’s a lot of highly trained counsellors like yourself out there, and you’ve worked hard to gain your qualifications. And now you’re qualified, naturally, you want to do the job of counselling.

And unless you’re independently wealthy, you do actually need to earn a living. But, and it is a big but, most counsellors do not sign up for counselling training in the expectation of earning a lot of money. None of us expect to be millionaires. And let’s acknowledge, quite a lot of people sign up for the training without an expectation of earning any money at all. That was certainly the case for me.

I set out on the journey without having an intention of it being my main work. It was only once I’d qualified that I started to wonder what I could do to use it to make a living. So although there are many people who train in the expectation of working as a counsellor, there are also people who haven’t thought that far ahead. They may enjoy the opportunity to volunteer and do that alongside other work, or perhaps have a separate source of income, such as a pension. And we all know that charities rely on their council of volunteers in order to offer therapeutic services.

And a lot of trainees rely on the charities to gain their placement hours. So this means there’s a whole mixture of different needs and different attitudes towards earning money from counselling. And let’s face it, we wouldn’t be counsellors if that didn’t result in a whole lot of reflection on our parts and the questioning around setting our fees. So if you’re someone who questions yourself when you think about setting fees, please know you are not alone. A lot of us struggle with it.

So I’d really love to talk about some of the factors that make us pause for thought and what we can do about them. Something that comes up for people is the thought that if you’re charging a fee, you may be making it about money rather than your clients. So let’s unpack that one a little bit. The reality is financial stability actually supports your client work. Financial stability means you can invest in resources and training that enhances your skills, And that means you’ll be better able to help your clients in the long run.

Financial stability means that you’re supported in providing good quality care for your clients. Charging a fee means you’re able to sustain your practice and actually offer the service, which you wouldn’t be able to do if you had to earn an income elsewhere. Financial stability means you’re able to set appropriate boundaries in your freeing to be able to pay for your services. For them, it means you’re less likely to see more clients than you can handle. And for clients, it can be very freeing to be able to pay for your services.

For them, it means that there’s a fair exchange of value. They don’t owe you anything once they’ve paid you. I think that charging a fee that sustains you in private practice is actually an ethical thing to do. Now let’s think about the beliefs that underline some of those fears around money and clients. There seems to be a perception in the caring professions that charging a fee equals being greedy in some way.

Caring professions are often associated with altruism and selflessness. Money is treated as a dirty word, and it’s somehow seen as being in conflict with compassion. Yet, as I’ve already said, charging a fee is actually what enables you to offer your compassionate services. Sometimes people argue that the satisfaction of helping someone should be enough in itself. And let’s acknowledge, yes, it is enormously satisfying to be able to make a difference to people’s lives.

But you can’t live on thin air. And unless you have another source of income, you can’t do this work for free. And in both of these arguments, there seems to be a belief that you can either be compassionate or you can earn money. Why are the 2 treated as mutually exclusive? It seems to me that there’s room here for therapists to be compassionate and make a living, because it enables them to continue to care for people in the long term.

Also, let’s acknowledge the impact of counselling being a female dominated profession. And that not only makes it seem less valuable to society, but there are additional norms around women being expected to be selfless and nurturing. And if you’re a woman, you’ve probably taken on those values from a very early age. Now one of the objections to my social media post was that perhaps you’d be happier without that extra 10 k. And in passing, I’d like to say that being able to decide you don’t need the extra money is all very well.

But I think a lot of people need it in order to pay their bills. What I think the comment actually indicates is something that many of us have heard through the years. The phrase that money can’t buy you happiness. And of course, many of us will agree with the idea that happiness is an inside job. It’s not reliant on what you have or your circumstances, but it’s about the way you approach your life.

However, the unconscious message in this is that wanting to earn money is somehow less than or grubby. There’s definitely the influence of the major world religions against loving or being attached to money. And even in modern culture, there’s often media stories about celebrities, politicians, or bankers’ wealth, often accompanied by words such as obscene. So we get the message that wealth is a bad thing. For our counsellor who just wants to earn that extra 10 k, this can leave them feeling guilty and greedy for saying so.

So if you’re someone who’s been feeling guilty about charging for your services, I think it might be worth some time thinking about the messages you’ve received about money. And I’ve actually got a whole module on this in my therapy growth group, my paid membership group for counsellors, which helps them with their private practice. Believe me, our money mindset is something I think most of us need to actually examine. Here’s my take on it. I earn my living from being a coach, and here’s some of the ways I spend my money in my business.

I employ a bookkeeper, a virtual assistant, a podcast editor, and another coach to help me with my planning. I buy courses that help me build my business. I pay for the tech that supports my online work. And all of this means that I’m contributing to other people’s businesses and helping them to pay their staff. And that’s going to help them feed their families.

And of course, when we earn an income, we’re going to be spending money on other things like buying food, going on holiday, transport and clothes. We are helping lots of people. It’s not as though the money that you earn sits there doing nothing. It goes around and it helps other people, and it helps them to live fruitful life doing the things they love. So let’s acknowledge what earning money can do for you.

Earning money gives you the power to make choices and take control of your life. You have greater freedom to pursue your creativity, spend time on the relationships that matter to you, and grow as a person. So with greater financial resources, you can make a greater impact on the world around you. You can develop your practice. You can make donations to charity.

You can be generous towards others. You have a greater sense of financial security, and that reduces stress and benefits you and your clients. I am really delighted that my coaching has enabled therapists who’ve worked with me to do things like buy themselves a car, get a mortgage, and reduce the likelihood of burnout by being able to see for your clients. I’m unapologetic about encouraging therapists to earn money. It’s what enables them to keep going in their work.

Self care is important, but it’s really difficult to find the time for self care if you’re having to work a lot of hours around several different jobs. Now we’ve had time to unpack those myths around charging, let’s move on to talk about that extra 10 k a year I was talking about. One of the comments I received was from someone working in the NHS. She was gobsmacked that it didn’t actually have to take a lot of clients to be able to earn that amount of money. And I think she was actually ready to hand in her notice straight away.

But if you’re dependent on the income, I’d actually advise taking things a little more slowly and perhaps begin to build your practice while you’re still working. And if you’d like to hear from someone who did just that, do please listen to the interview with Tracey Carlisle. That’s episode 2 of this podcast. It’s called from employment to full time private practice. And Tracy explains how she managed to move from full time employment to her full time private practice, but also look after her nervous system along the way.

So let’s move on and see how you can go about earning that 10 k. Now if you think about how much you charge, it could be something like 4 to 6 clients a week, allowing for time off for holidays or illnesses. Do go and have a look at that fee calculator to help you with the maths, and I will pop a link into the show notes. You do need to factor in as well that you’ll get cancellations. So with that in mind, what can you do to get those 4 to 6 clients a week?

I do have a handout called 21 ways for counsellors to attract new clients, and the link to that is in the show notes attached to this episode. But briefly, I’d suggest using a variety of different ways to attract clients. You can seek referrals from other therapists and people that you know. You can advertise on a directory or website. You can reach out to your community in different ways, such as networking, giving talks, attending events.

There’s many different ways to attract clients, and I list some of them in my handout. And it’s also important to think about what people are looking for in terms of counselling and your particular skills. What’s gonna make you stand out for the crowd, and what is it about you that means people should choose you? Now if you’re one of my followers, that question probably makes you cringe. And I have to say, I love, love, love helping therapists to discover what makes them special.

But most of the time, you don’t believe that there’s anything special that you’ve got to offer. I’m just gonna say, you’re wrong. Believe me, there are people out there who would really benefit from working with you. And I’m not saying you in terms of, like, all the listeners of this episode, the community of therapists. I’m talking about you, the individual who is listening to me right now.

You do have a unique story, and you have unique interests and experience that you can use to market yourself to clients. So I’m just gonna give you a few examples of some of the people that I’ve worked with who have used their experience to stand out from the crowd. There’s Chloe Foster of Sussex Rain Bird Councillor, who specialises in working with the LGBTQ plus community, and they’re now charging a premium fee. There’s Louise Brown, who I interviewed recently on the podcast in episode 7, who has a practice working with both clients and supervisees around ADHD and autism. And I had a lovely email recently from someone I’d coached.

She was a divorce solicitor who’d moved into mediation and then ultimately counselling. When we met, I suggested she think about couples counselling, something she hadn’t previously considered. And a year or so later, she got in touch to say she’d added it to her offer. She’s created a really successful private practice and also has a great community of couples counsellors that she belongs to. There’s lots of ways for you to attract clients, and it’s something that’s regularly discussed in my Facebook group, Good Enough Counsellors, where other therapists are really generous in supporting each other and sharing ideas.

What I’d like to know now is what’s holding you back. Even one client a week can make a difference to your income. One client a week at £50 is £200 a month, and that adds up to £2,000 a year if you work 10 months of the year. Not only that, but it gives you so much confidence to know that you can be a therapist in private practice, that you can do it. Earning money can provide you with a sense of validation for your skills and hard work.

When clients are willing to pay for your services, it affirms that they value your support that you provide. And let me say in passing, it does actually produce some imposter feelings too, and we’ll cover that in another episode. So being paid can actually enhance your sense of professional identity. You’ll feel more integrated with your community of practitioners, and you’ll have a sense of belonging because you’re someone in private practice. You’ll feel more confident to be able to contribute to professional debate, and you’ll also be able to extend your skills because you’ll be able to pay for extra training and CPD.

So in conclusion, let’s not be shy about charging for our services. It benefits you, it benefits your client, and it benefits the profession as a whole. 

Thanks for listening. Do come and join my Facebook community, Good Enough Counsellors. And for more information about how I can help you develop your private practice, please visit my website

If you found this episode helpful, I’d love it if you could share it with a fellow therapist or leave a review on your podcast app. And in closing, I’d love to remind you that every single step you make gets you closer to your dream. I really believe you can do it.