How Much Should I Charge for Therapy?
This is a question I’m asked a lot. Setting your hourly rate is tricky whether you’re running a new or established business. Due to our work, many therapists struggle with making money and worry about being seen as exploitative or money-grabbing.
So, how do you figure out what you should be charging without feeling guilty? First, take a look at the graphic and consider all the costs you incur to provide a therapy session to a client; every business runs differently and has different costs; know what your costs are.
It’s OK to Make Money
In private practice, we’re offering people another way to protect and improve their mental health. Remember, you are just one of many options available to them. The NHS provides the same service for free and several means-tested options are available from charities such as Anxiety UK.
You’re also running a business. It’s not just any business; it’s a business where you and your mental health are the main tools required to deliver your service.
It concerns me when I hear from people who are undercharging. It’s not uncommon for therapists to report working long hours that leave them feeling burnt out and exhausted. If this is the case for you, how would you deliver therapy if you had a good work-life balance and money wasn’t a concern?
Setting the right fee means you can focus on delivering therapy without worrying about money. You’ll feel confident and have more flexibility, and cancellations won’t be a source of panic. The more profitable your business, the more opportunities you’ll have to give back by offering sessions at a reduced cost, employing others, or supporting charities.
How to Set the Right Fee
When setting the right fee, you need to consider far more than just the hour you are with your client, especially when delivering therapies such as CBT, because there is often more preparation time before each session and the need to have the headspace to reflect on the work we do as therapists. Along with being a therapist, you are also running a small business and need to have time aside for everything that goes with that. Neglecting marketing, accounts or managing a website will soon cause problems. When I am working with therapists setting up in private practice, it’s the time this takes that often gets forgotten about, leading to stress and burnout. This image shows some of the things we need to consider when pricing for a therapy hour.
Setting the right fee means thinking about your mindset and values alongside certain facts.
Many of us have mindset blocks around money. As well as exploring these barriers, it’s important to figure out your business values in relation to money. For example, if accessibility is important to you, you might want to deliver low-cost therapy. This is achievable, but you’ll need to focus on keeping costs down in your business. This requires you to know your numbers and put a good plan in place. To be honest, the same goes for charging higher rates. Knowing what you want will help you dig into the data and land on the right figure for your private practice.
Pricing decisions need to be based on facts to build a profitable business. I used to think profit was my wage, but this is not the case. Profit is the amount you earn after you have paid yourself and covered all your business costs. This money should go into another business account so it can serve as a financial buffer. If you aim to save 6-12 months’ worth of income, you’ll be covered if you go through a slow period, personal illness or even a pandemic.
Start by working out how many therapy sessions you want to provide a week, your business costs, and what level of personal income you want to generate.
We’ve created a fee calculator to help you do this >>> Therapist Hourly Rate Calculator.
Pricing Pitfalls to Avoid
Therapists are notorious for undervaluing their services. A good tip is that your hourly fee should feel slightly uncomfortable. Don’t set your rates by comparing them to what other therapists are charging, either. You have no idea what costs another business has. To ensure that your business is well organised and structured, you should ensure that you have a solid business plan in place – The Business Plan for Therapists.
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