Depending on the type of therapy you choose, fees can vary considerably from therapist to therapist and there are quite a number of different factors for therapists to consider when setting their therapy fees. Whilst they have chosen to be a therapist because they want to help people overcome problems and issues, therapists in private practice are also running a business which they need to make a living from.
If you’ve decided to try a talking therapy such as hypnotherapy or counselling, it might be useful to know what the therapy fees are actually paying for, so that you can make a more informed decision about which therapist you think may be the best person to help you. A typical talking therapy session is usually around 50 minutes, however the time you spend with your therapist during the session is only one part of the process. In this article, I thought it might be useful to give an insight into some of the things that your money pays for in addition to the 50 minutes spent on your session.
Education & Training
Unlike many other types of training where education grants may be available and tuition fees are sometimes subsidised or paid for by an employer, most therapists have to pay for their therapy training themselves. There are a variety of training courses available, depending on the type of therapy and level of training required, ranging from online courses costing a few hundred pounds, to university degrees and professional training costing several thousand pounds.
At present in the UK, talking therapies are not subject to any form of statutory regulation and this means that there are no standard qualifications that an individual therapist must have in order to practice therapy. As such, the fees that various private training providers charge can vary considerably, depending on the type of training and qualifications they offer.
An experienced therapist with a good reputation, is likely to have invested several thousand pounds throughout their career in order to obtain high quality training, so that they can provide the best possible service for their clients.
Professional Body Membership
Whilst membership of a professional body is voluntary for therapists in the UK, being a member of an established and reputable body means that they have met specified training standards in order to practice. It also provides a level of reassurance for people who may be seeking therapy, because therapists who belong to a professional body are required to abide by the standards and/or Code of Ethics of the organisation, in addition to receiving regular supervision, being insured and undertaking regular Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Many professional bodies also have a complaints process in place which clients and members of the public can access should they have any concerns about a particular therapist’s practice. As with training, membership fees and associated costs can vary depending on individual organisations.
Most of the larger professional therapy bodies in the UK require their members to receive regular supervision in order to ensure that they are working safely and in the best interests of their clients. Within the talking therapy profession, supervision is considered to be a vital part of safe, ethical and professional practice. It enables a therapist to review and reflect on their work and in the early stages of a therapist’s career, supervision can be an important source of advice in emergencies, or with clients whose presenting issues may be difficult or complex. Supervision enables a therapist to stay grounded, maintain professional and personal boundaries and avoid burnout. It involves a therapist meeting at regular intervals with another therapist who is trained as a Supervisor and discussing their client work, as well as any issues that may be affecting their practice.
The amount of supervision a therapist needs will depend on the requirements of their professional body, but it is also determined by the number and type of clients that they work with. As a general rule, the more client work a therapist undertakes, the more supervision they will require. The cost of supervision varies depending on the individual supervisor, with more experienced supervisors often charging higher fees, depending on their level of qualifications, skills and experience. Therapists take time out from their client work to attend supervision, therefore the cost of supervision and the loss of working hours are also considerations when determining therapy fees.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
As part of the requirements of their professional body, most therapists are required to undertake a certain number of hours of CPD every year to ensure that they are keeping their skills up to date and continuing to develop their knowledge. The amount of CPD required varies depending on the individual professional body, but most organisations require their members to keep a comprehensive log of any CPD activities including what they have learned from the activity and how they will use the knowledge in their therapy practice.
The cost of CPD can vary depending on the type of activity and can range from reading books and online articles, to attending CPD courses costing several hundred pounds. Whilst immensely valuable, time spent carrying out CPD related activities is also time away from working with clients, so the cost of CPD activities and the loss of working time is often taken into consideration when a therapist is deciding what to charge for sessions.
Admin & Research
Working as a self employed practitioner in private practice, means that most therapists do all of their admin work themselves including dealing with emails and phone calls, writing up client notes after sessions, writing letters to doctors and other healthcare professionals, keeping a diary and appointment records and completing any other documentation required by professional bodies.
Depending on each client that a therapist works with, additional reading or research may also be required in between sessions in order to develop a greater understanding or knowledge of their presenting issues and the different tools or techniques that may be helpful for individual clients.
Therapy room hire
If you’re seeing a therapist face to face, this is likely to be one of the most influential factors regarding the cost of therapy. Some therapists work from a dedicated therapy space in their own home, which can keep costs to a minimum, with only a percentage of the household utility bills to be taken into consideration. Talking therapies have become increasingly more popular and commonplace over the last few years and so it is increasingly more common for therapists to hire a dedicated therapy room and the costs involved with this can vary considerably, depending on the location, type of premises and facilities available. For example, a therapy room which is shared as part of another business such as a room in a beauty salon, or above a shop, is likely to cost less than a room in a private therapy clinic which also provides a reception, waiting area, refreshments and other facilities.
Therapist’s own therapy
It may sound odd that a therapist might receive therapy themselves, but depending on the type of clients and issues an individual therapist works with, receiving personal therapy can be a vital part of professional practice. The issues that many therapists work with can often be quite demanding or complex, so engaging in personal therapy can enable a therapist to explore their own issues in order to develop a better awareness and provide the best experience for their clients.
Most professional bodies require their members to be fully insured both for professional indemnity and also public liability. As with most other businesses, it is also common sense and good practice for a therapist to have insurance cover.
Websites & Other marketing costs
In addition to having a business card, many therapists will have a website to promote their business and may also be listed on various therapy directory websites. The costs for designing, building and maintaining a website can vary considerably, especially if a therapist hires a professional designer or agency to produce their website. Ongoing fees for inclusion in various advertising directories, along with other marketing costs also have to be factored in when determining therapy fees.
As you can probably see from the list above, as with most businesses, there is quite a lot for a therapist to consider when setting their therapy fees. If you’re considering hypnotherapy or another talking therapy to help with a problem or situation that you feel is holding you back, it’s worth taking time to do some research and find the right therapist for you. My blog post Choosing a Hypnotherapist contains some useful information and things to consider when choosing a therapist.