What Do I Get For My Money?

Therapy is different from a lot of other types of treatment. If you pay for a massage you know that someone with a lot of training will lay hands on you and hopefully fix that crick in your neck and relax you. For you, that’s a lot of bang for your buck. Most of the time with therapy there isn’t a concrete problem to fix. And actually there are many times we’re not “fixing” you, we’re working on accepting yourself as good enough just the way you are, or maybe tweaking your worldview. If I could smooth that away the same way a massage therapist rubs away the aches, I would. But it’s not that simple.

What Do I Get For My Money-

Since therapy is so much different than a lot of other services people need for their health and happiness it’s kind of hard to see how the dollar amount for therapy translates. If you have a good therapist you are actually getting a bargain. You will likely get the following benefits:

  • An hour a week that is dedicated solely to understanding and respecting you.

  • Knowing that when things crop up, you’ll have someone really listen when you’ve felt brushed aside all week.

  • After a few weeks, you’ll start worrying less, or maybe feel like you’ve got your vitality back. Either way, you should start to see some progress. Your friends and family will start to tell you that you seem much better lately.

  • In time, you’ll feel less hopeless and overwhelmed, you’ll actually enjoy your coffee in the morning, you’ll perform better at work because you’re not distracted or bogged down anymore. It will feel like life is good.

That might have sold you already. Or you might be thinking “I don’t know, it’s only one hour every week.” There’s many other things ethical clinicians do outside of session that your fee pays for. Most clinicians do not see 40 clients each week, most consider full-time to be 15-20 clients a week. And the rest of that time therapists are working hard behind the scenes to make sure they are amazing at their jobs. Here’s a peak at how therapists spend their time and money:

  • Carefully document what you talked about so that they critically think about what you said and better determine the best way to approach it

  • Read journal articles and books to continue to learn more about the field and what types of treatments would work best for you. Attend conferences and training to learn more from other therapists in the field.

  • Rent for the lovely office that you both sit in during session (a room that, in time, will feel like one of the safest places on earth), the phone bill so that she can take your call when you need to reschedule, health insurance so that she can stay well and other things that contribute to “overhead.”

  • If your therapist takes and bills insurance for you, there might be times they spend a long time on the phone with the insurance company trying to get reimbursed for sessions.

  • Many ethical clinicians will hire a supervisor if an issue comes up they are less familiar with. If seven sessions in you have the courage to admit you have a gambling addiction, an ethical therapist less familiar with this type of addiction would seek out a supervisor to consult with them to make sure you get the best care

  • Taking care of ourselves. A stressed, burnt out therapist will be too distracted to properly help you. We need to be totally focused and able to critically process what you’re saying, apply it to our body of knowledge and then respond to you. We may make it look easy, but that’s because we spend a lot of time preparing for your session and taking care of ourselves.

  • Saving for sick and vacation days. Because just like you should stay home when you’re miserable and contagious, so should your therapist. You don’t want them coming to session and infecting you because their finances are so tight they can’t go a week without your fee. You want them to call you to reschedule for later in the week, or if they are sick enough, to wait until your next regular weekly session.

For every hour spent together in the room, a good therapist often spends at least 1 hour (sometimes more) outside of session working on being the best they can be. If they need supervision for your case, they might spend more time talking to their supervisor or researching treatment methods. If a therapist is doing all this behind the scenes work you are getting a bargain. So when you think about the hourly rate, divide it 2 or maybe 3 ways to get a more accurate pre-tax hourly rate. Then think about how you spend your money during the week and whether each thing you pay for does that much work for you and gives you those kind of life changing results. Is it worth it?