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Let’s talk about fees: money and psychotherapy

Updated: Aug 14, 2022

There are some themes that don’t always get the air time they need in therapy. At the top of the list is the long-considered “taboo” of money.

Money can be really hard to talk about.

The financial side of the therapeutic relationship can feel very difficult for both parties, but it has tremendous significance. Clients may resent having to pay for something they feel they have a right to. Therapists may feel uncomfortable about charging for something they feel they ‘should’ be willing to give freely. Money can represent power, commitment, love, value and a host of other things.


Should therapy be a little bit uncomfortable ?

Of course, therapy should not take over your life.

But yes, it will be a little uncomfortable. That means emotionally, and financially.

If there is an exchange of resources - time, money, energy - you’re more likely to be accountable to the process and value the work you’re doing.

Whilst money is only part of the process, it is an important one insofar as we invest money with meaning.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the money you spend spend in therapy is an investment on your own self, which is the most valuable, important and sensitive of things.


What really matters is if a therapist can explain why they charge what they charge.

You want someone who knows what they're charging you for, and why. And just like all good relationships, you need someone who isn't afraid to talk about it.

Money is one of the most emotionally charged topics. It’s so intense that it’s one of the main reasons relationships end.

Many people, many therapists, are uncomfortable discussing money -let alone the meaning of the exchange of currency in psychotherapy. Some therapists avoid openly exploring their client’s feelings about it and compartmentalize the payment away from a face-to-face interaction: Technology makes that easy, and perhaps easier still to justify.

But whether conscious to the client or not, doing so makes a rather loud statement, and not a healthy one in my view.


If your therapist can't talk about money with you, what else can't they talk about?

That is not a good standard to set in a professional relationship that’s based on communication. If you feel nervous bringing money up with your therapist, you don’t want someone sitting across from you who’s just as nervous as you are!

Being clear and transparent about fees is actually a very therapeutic task for your therapist. It means that they not only have enough understanding of their business to know exactly what they need to charge (and don't go above or below that), but it means they feel confident about what they're offering you.

It shows that they are comfortable having uncomfortable conversations. That they stand by the value of work that they do. They are charging a specific price for a reason, not just seeing what they can get away with.

This confidence applies not only to their rates, but to their schedule, their expertise, and even whether they will take you on as a client.

Of course, flexibility is helpful, and is also a sign of confidence. But a good therapist should be clear on what they are willing to negotiate, and what they are not.











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