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How much should I pay for psychotherapy?

Many people discard the idea of seeing a psychologist or psychotherapist because they ‘fee’l the price is too high.

Usually, people tend to reply to this prejudice simply by remembering that professionals apply different prices, and that treatment by the NHS is free at the moment of use.

Instead, I would like to focus on a different aspect : what makes a person say that the price of something - a service, a performance, an object - is too high?

And why, in particular, is psychotherapy perceived as too expensive?

Money has very deep meanings, meanings that go far beyond its transactional value.

Think of the sense of modesty that people seem to experience when talking about money, or the embarrassment that often arises when the circumstances require people to deal with this aspect openly - almost as if touching the subject could be perceived as vulgar.

Everything, in our society is influenced by money, and yet, money remains a taboo.

Many ‘disorders’ confirm that money has a value that is anything but neutral: from the obsessions about money as something dirty and a source of contamination, to the compulsions that lead some to accumulate money beyond necessity, or to spend it without any control.

Without going that far, we can still get rid of the idea that money is simply something that is used to buy something else.

And, returning to the perception of the costs of psychotherapy, we can understand how delicate a matter that is, whilst remaining a fundamental issue.

For some people, the very fact that psychotherapy has to be paid is unacceptable - as if the union emotions/money was somehow immoral, or as if a psychotherapist benefitted from their patients' suffering.

Yet though, psychotherapy -as all relationships- has a transactional aspect. It must have a cost , without this transactional element, it would be something informal, without commitment and bonds.

We have already seen how important talking about uncomfortable topics is for a therapy to work ( if you missed our first post on the topic, you can find it here).

If psychotherapy did not involve an economic commitment, the therapist would become something else: a kind of friend, a sibling, a parent, a confessor.

But how can we tell if psychotherapy is overpriced? Against what yardstick, what parameters can a price be considered too high or too low, or just right?

➡️ Usefulness of psychotherapy

One parameter may be the perceived effectiveness:

  • How well does that thing I pay an X amount of money for meet my expectations?

  • How much do I think it can help my overall wellbeing in the long run?

  • Do I think that all in all a session with a psychotherapist is hot air? Or do I think it is a serious and concrete opportunity for change that will improve the quality of my life?

➡️ Value of psychotherapy

Another parameter is the perceived value of the thing I'm paying for:

  • What level of expertise ( and which qualifications) do I think the person offering that service must have?

  • How much knowledge do I feel is needed to create that expertise?

  • How many years of study?

  • What costs and how many sacrifices has the professional had to make, in my opinion, to become such?

  • How much is that expertise worth to me? How important does it seem to me for my life? Is it enough to talk to a friend if I have a problem? Can anyone help me, or is it important to turn to someone who has studied specifically to help people gain awareness, autonomy, balance?

➡️ Marketplace

Is there a difference between one professional and another in the quality of the service?

  • Is it indifferent to go to a guy or to a guy?

  • Is one worth the other, or are there in my opinion different levels of quality?

  • And in my opinion do different levels of quality justify different costs?

➡️ Value of money

Again: what is the value I place on money?

  • When, and for what, is it worth spending it?

  • Is spending money always a cost to me, or can it also be an opportunity, an investment? And what is it worth investing in?

➡️ Value of my well-being

  • How much do I think it is right to spend money on my personal well-being?

  • How important do I think it is to spend money on well-being in general?

  • How much do I believe that well-being and serenity are rightfully mine and not at the cost of commitments and sacrifices?

➡️ Priorities

What is the place of my psychophysical balance in my scale of values? And in my scale of priorities?

Sometimes, to give value to psychotherapy means to give value to one's interiority. One might argue that the therapy spacehas a great value because it is about one’s innermost. The things we get with little or no effort ( including financial effort ) sooner or later tend to have no value in our eyes.

This principle finds mediation insofar as some adjustments can be found, but not below a value that must be significant for the person.

Therapy creates a space that is exclusive to you, and very precious. Try to compare this choice (to enter into psychotherapy or psychological support) to any other expenditure done to obtain material things: those might certainly feel important, but life also needs non-material values. So , sometimes it is a matter of choosing what to give value to.

And if you are thinking that only desperate people invest their energies in therapy, that’s not really the case. Not only the desperate go to therapy. Also those who want to know themselves. And they are usually very interesting people.

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