Many of us have no idea about pricing or fee setting in private practice. And why should we? The majority of counsellors come to private practice from a different walk of life and do not have any business training. The topic of fee setting is one that can stop us in our tracks.
Often we’ve chosen this career purely because we love the work. We may never have set out with the intention of building a private practice or involving clients in directly paying us.
Therefore, pricing and fee setting for our services can feel really awkward. We may feel embarrassed, reluctant to ask for payment, or we may have thoughts of not being good value for money. It’s essential that we resolve these difficulties.
This is because money is a source of conflict in a relationship. With relationship at the heart of therapy, it’s ethical for therapists to address their money issues.
Accordingly, this is the first of a series of blogs to help counsellors examine their relationship with money.
pricing yourself as a counsellor
Are you in private practice to earn a living? Increasingly this is the case for many counsellors who seek an income from the work for which they are trained.
However, there are also a significant proportion of counsellors who do not want to make this their main income. They perhaps want to supplement a pension or another wage. Sometimes this makes charging a fee feel awkward because there can be a feeling of “I don’t really need this”.
Whatever your reason for pricing and fee setting in private practice, the thought of placing a monetary value on counselling can feel very uncomfortable. This can stem from the thought that:
“Earning a living from someone’s pain is morally wrong”
You may not think that you suffer from this objection. But:
- Do you struggle with the thought of charging a high fee?
- Do you worry about being exploitative?
- Do you judge others who charge fees?
- Do you think that you should give your money away to others?
- Are you planning to offer discounts when asked?
These are all signs of discomfort with the notion of charging fees for your work.
but How Can I Feel Comfortable with Fee Setting?
I’d like to ask you a question:
“If you had more energy, time and money so that you could devote yourself to counselling, what difference would you make in the world?”
How many more people could you help if you had the money to focus on counselling?
What does it mean to your clients if you’re feeling tired because you’re juggling several jobs and other commitments in addition to seeing them?
What does it feel like to be rushed because you’ve had to get to their appointment straight from another job or back to back sessions?
What would it mean if you were able to have time to ground yourself before the appointment?
How would it feel to have enough money to pay for an attractive office environment for your clients? How would it make them feel?
How would it feel to be able to pay for that CPD you’ve always wanted to do? How would that improve the way you can help your clients?
How would having enough money affect your ability to serve your clients?
And for your clients:
“What does it mean to place monetary value on your therapy?”
Do you value a service when you have to pay for it?
Does paying for a service mean that you commit yourself to making it work?
Do you feel more cared for by a therapist who has the time and space for you?
Correct Pricing and Fee Setting in Private Practice Benefits You and Your Clients
From the perspective of your clients and your self-care, fee charging is simply a way to ensure good service.
So, how much do you need to earn?
How much do you need to earn to provide clients with the space that they need?
How much do you need to earn so that you don’t have to worry about your bills?
How much do you need to earn so that you can take holidays and provide yourself with the self-care that you deserve?
In my next blog, I’ll explain how you can set your fees so that you and your clients have the time and space for therapy.