Learning how to charge what you’re worth can be a struggle for many therapists. Because this is a key piece to growing your practice, we invited Dr. Dori Gatter, a successful psychologist in West Hartford, to share her experience.
A guest post by Dr. Dori Gatter
As a therapist, are you charging what you are worth? How do you decide what to charge? Does it feel impossible to measure your “worth” as a counselor? There are many ways to get land on what you’re worth, and yet many of us have a hard time charging what we are truly worth because of conscious and subconscious money, abundance and worth issues. If you you are not yet successful in your practice or business, it is likely that these issues are very real.
Charity Mindset and Giving Away the Farm
Most counselors got into this business to help people, not to make a ton of money. However, when counseling is our career or our primary job, we do need to be able to support ourselves and our loved ones. Many counselors feel a conflict between wanting to help people (which we might believe means giving our services away) and making a living.
Do you ever feel anxious about charging more or think you need to slide down on your fee because you feel like people cannot afford it? Do you tell yourself a story that people won’t pay a higher fee? Do you ever find yourself energetically apologizing or being wishy-washy in your reply when people ask how much you charge?
I used to tell myself a similar story. I believed that people would be upset with me or not come to me if I raised my fee. I was projecting my internal self-narrative and my own low self-esteem onto my clients. And, the funny thing was that when I did this, my clients unconsciously picked up on my energy and responded according to my projection. When I worked on my self-worth in my own therapy and became able to state my fee with self-confidence, my new energy garnered quite a different response. People did not bat an eye at the fee. Once I believed that my services were worth it, my clients did as well.
It is very important to know the story you tell yourself and unpack the belief you are walking around with. This narrative could be getting in your way, and you are co-creating an energy that signals lack of abundance with your clients! Wait, what? Yes! You are enabling (yes, I said enabling) your clients to live in lack of abundance if you are “ taking care of them” because you believe that they cannot afford more. Although you might feel generous, you are not doing your clients a favor, here. In truth, you are hurting your clients, never mind yourself!
You Can Both Have a Successful Practice and Do Good Works
First and foremost, your practice is a business, not a charity. If you are giving away your services, you have a hobby, not a business. If you are able to do that, then that is great! However, if you are relying on your business to support you, you need to treat it as a business. That does not mean you cannot have a sliding scale or donate some of your time. It means you need to make clear decisions that make sense for your business. I leave two spots open in my practice for sliding scale and occasionally do some pro bono work. I also leverage my time. One way to leverage your time is to work with your low-fee clients in a group so that you can make more per hour. This has been very successful for me, and I invite you to do the same.
Do You Value Yourself and What You Provide?
What you provide to your clients is worth more than you can imagine. You are showing up with your presence, your heart and your expertise. If you just showed up with one of these, your clients would greatly benefit. When you show up with all three, you offer something incredible that most people do not get anywhere else in their everyday lives. As counselors, we often forget that, lose perspective, and become focused on judging ourselves or letting our egos tell us we can do better. We forget that most people do not have someone to be present to them for an hour a week. It is precious time during which healing happens. I am going to be really bold here and tell you that you are doing holy, spiritual healing work here with people. You are doing God’s work. I mean this in a spiritual rather than religious way. It is sacred work to provide clients with new positive bonding and validation. You are changing people’s lives for the better, and that is very valuable.
Let’s do a little guided imagery to explore your beliefs about charging what you are worth. Take a comfortable seat and be aware of your breathing. Be aware of the seat you are sitting on and the ground under your feet. Feel your feet on the ground. Follow your breath for a few moments. Just breathe. When you are ready, I want you to ask for your animal of knowing to come to you. This may come to you visually, oratorally or kinesetically. When you get the animal, I want you to ask this animal of knowing, “What is the fee I should be charging right now?” Wait for the answer to come. What did you get? Notice how you feel about the answer you received. Do you feel in alignment with the fee? Does it touch excitement? Fear? What do you notice in your body in response? I just asked myself and got the fee I am charging new people now, along with a message to raise some people to the new full fee. I do feel in alignment with my fee. I had to do my own therapy work and overcome my blocks to abundance feel able to charge my full fee. It is my experience that our fees increase over time at the same rate our self-worth increases. I encourage you to do your own work on your blocks to abundance and self-worth. You are worth the work!
About the Author: Dori Gatter is a licensed professional counselor is West Hartford, Connecticut. She enjoys working with individuals and couples, and has been doing so for over 20 years. She is a graduate of the Hartford Family Institute’s Body-Centered Gestalt Professional Training Program, and has additional training in Imago Relationship Therapy. She has also co-authored two books, including a children’s book that teaches children how to relate to their emotions.
You can learn more about Dr. Dori Gatter at her website, http://www.drdorigatter.com/