I recently had a client choose me as a therapist. She used careful consideration to determine who was the right therapist for her, and we set up the first session. Upon asking my fee, she hesitated a bit, but then she said, “okay, you are worth it!” First of all, yes, I am worth it. Truth be told, I am worth more than my fee. Hear me out on this for a second, because I may be saying something a bit counter to what you are expecting. I haven’t been choosing my fee based on MY worth.
Quick side note, I am human with issues, and I definitely have money issues. This has played a role in several things around my fee setting and cancellation and no-show policies. I don’t want to pretend like these aren’t ever surfacing and looking me in the face.
Let me get back to how I set my fee. From the beginning of my private practice, I randomly picked a number. Kinda weird, huh? I had that same fee for 5 years. I did get wrapped up a bit in my worthiness and such, which would paralyze me when I considered raising the fee. But recently, I have had a paradigm shift around setting the fee, one that has had much more impact on things. I now set the fee based on what I feel will help clients invest in themselves and their commitment to therapy. Over those five years, I learned a lot about the clients who came in, paying the fee, and how they approached therapy. They showed up differently in session, and outside of session. They committed to their healing and growth by setting aside time, energy, and money.
Of course, I am a trained and experienced clinician. I am committed to showing up for my clients in powerful ways, utilizing cutting edge theories and modalities, asking the questions to empower them to find the answers from within themselves. But the bigger emphasis, as of lately, is to ask of the client to prioritize themselves and their therapy, to show up for themselves STARTING with an investment of time and money. I believe it is good for the client to claim a bit of their worth with a monetary amount. In response to my client I referred to earlier, I would like to say, “You’re worth it!” You are worth setting aside the time for healing. You are worth investing my fee. And just like I am worth more than my fee, so are my clients. But something good happens when we stretch the amount we pay. Some of these same concepts apply to cancellation/no-show fees, as well. More about this in future posts.
Two quick “disclaimers” of sorts: One, I know every one of us has different budgets and incomes. If you truly are strapped for money and not able to pay a fee for therapy, that is not a reflection of your worth in the slightest. All too often we prioritize things above ourselves. In reflection of this, many of my colleagues and I have noticed that parents will pay fees for their children (and think about the school activity fees like band or sports). We will pay for our significant others going to counseling. Yet we skip out on their own. And two, therapists have lots of reasons for the fees we set. We have rent and overhead, as well as taxes, that often play a role in a minimal amount we need to charge. We have our own work to do and the setting of our fee does sometimes reflect how we show up in the therapy space as well. On both sides, I think at least a little stretching is good for both of us.
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