Putting a monetary value on what we do in the counseling profession can be difficult. After all, we are caring professionals who want to help first and worry about money second. But, if you want to survive and even thrive in private practice, you will need to put a price on your work and collect it!
We like to ask the question, “If you had a product or “widget” that could heal old psychological wounds, help parents and children communicate better, keep a family from breaking up, help someone who is depressed feel that suicide is not their only alternative, that could diagnose anxiety, depression, OCD, and thought disorders or help raise someone’s self-esteem, wouldn’t that product be very valuable?” That product is you. We are some of the most well trained, experienced, dedicated therapists in the mental health field, and there is nothing wrong with being compensated as such.
Have you been to a Doctor, Dentist or other medical professional lately? Have you had your car repaired or needed plumbing done in your home recently? I think you see where we are headed here. These service professionals charge fees commensurate with their training, ability and the laws of supply and demand. Counselors can too.
Fees for counseling vary from community to community. Depending on the area, fees can vary widely. There is a concept called “community standard,” which affects not only fees but also standards of practice. Simply stated, it means what other similar professionals in your area would reasonably do. As such, you can ask what other counselors, social workers or psychologists in your area charge. This will give you a range to work from, so your fees are not too high or low for your area. Positioning your fees somewhere in the upper 50% would be a logical starting point. Resist the temptation to “low ball”. Setting fees below the community standard will not get you more clients. While fees are a consideration for prospective clients, most clients are more concerned about your competency and reputation than what you charge.
Norm Dasenbrook and Bob Walsh are counselors in private practice, consultants, and authors (www.counseling-privatepractice.com)