Psychotherapists and Money

Janet Whitney, MA, MFT

Theravive Counseling


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Having worked as a psychotherapist for 30 years and having a suite where I sub lease to 15 other therapists, I am well aware of the conflict that develops for psychotherapists in reference to financial success. With the amount of education and experience I see in my co-workers and other therapists, I am disheartened at the lack of financial payback, that as a profession, we allow. People that enter the field of psychology are notorious for being generous and kind. This does not always make for the best business or money manager. I understand the other benefits that come from watching clients absolutely turn their lives around to the point that they find happiness within themselves and with others. There is such joy in witnessing these transformations. How valuable are these changes that occur through the work and hours of attention directed by us, towards our clients? Probably priceless.

Have you ever given a client a financial break on your fees, only to watch them drive away from your office in a car valued at $60, 000 or more? Once a fee is agreed upon, it is difficult to raise the cost of payment. I believe therapists need a course in business and finances, along with time to understand the great value of what we provide. Naturally, there is discord between our need to make a difference in the lives of people we work with and the charging of money for services. The conflict arises from our backgrounds, which include what we learned, and experienced as children, along with the messages we took in about who we are and what our place is in the world. The skill it takes to really hear the problems of another individual and the gift of guidance, feedback and the psychological tools we provide is significant. Often because the skills as a therapist come to us naturally, we feel uneasy about really charging our clients at least the going rate. Think of a pro- athlete. Just because they are physically gifted, do they worry about whether they really should be making the 100 of thousands they are paid for the natural talents? Probably not like psychotherapists worry about receiving payment for their gifts and talents. What would you be willing to pay to have the treatment you are giving your clients? Take time to think about that.

A shift has to first begin in our minds and in our thinking, in order to experience financial success. Being aware of the limitations that come from conscious mind and moving our unconscious beliefs into a state of consciousness is paramount. Take a look at what making a great deal of money creates in your body and mind. Does your stomach feel stressed or excited about the possibilities? Can you feel a sense of gratitude for the potential of having large sums of money or for some reason is your feeling one of guilt and unworthiness? Whatever your response, it is probably more unconscious then you realize. It isn’t always easy but trying to bring those buried feelings into consciousness can give you a jump start into your own transformation in relationship to money. Sometimes religious teachings interfere with financial success. Many religions equate financial success with close to sin. This can make it difficult to expect and ask for money in return for counseling and the services we provide. Many religious leaders are very wealthy and do not feel that making or having money is a sin. Some of the wealthiest institutions are church affiliated corporations. I don’t think God or the Universe judges people who can make money. It is what we do with the money that is important.

Reflect on how you would spend your money if you had even more then you can imagine. As psychotherapists, most likely once you get to the point of taking care of your needs and the needs of your family, the extra money would go towards helping others. Who would be a better person to have unlimited resources of money? A psychotherapist gives back to the world naturally. Think of all the good you could do and help create with more financial resources.

There is a great exercise that can assist you to get a sense of what you would do with large amounts of money. Imagine that tomorrow you get a check for $100, decide what you would do with it. The next day you get $200, decide how you would spend it. The 3rd day you get $400 and on the 4th day $800, by the 5th day you get $1600 and the 6th day $3200. Do this exercise for 2 weeks, doubling your money each day. Soon your check is over $100, 000. Extend the gift of money for a month. Now we are talking about the kind of money that can change the world. Are you a good person to be given this large sum of money? Will you do things to help others? I know the answer is yes and it is important that you realize that you are the right person to be trusted with a lot of money. Getting used to the concept of having an abundance of money is a skill. It takes commitment and belief in yourself, to make it happen.

Truthfully, while this article focuses on money, the more important message is that psychotherapists have a mission in life. Following that mission, heart and soul will bring you all you need to feel complete. The two questions that need to be addressed by the time of our deaths are: Have I really loved? And have I made a difference in people’s lives? Most therapists can answer both questions affirmatively. It is the extent of your involvement and commitment that might need to be explored a bit more deeply. It is usually easy to love our children, our spouses, our friends and hopefully ourselves. How deeply you allow yourself to love is another question. The same is true about making a difference in the lives of others. How great a difference you allow yourself to make in this world, is up to you. If there is fear or insecurity or a lack of clarity of priorities, the difference we make will be affected.

This brings us to the idea of solutions to the lack of money issue. There are 2 avenues to pursue. One is to work harder which can be fulfilling in it’s own right, but it can lead to a life that is out of balance. The other answer is to work smarter. Psychotherapists usually have more then one gift to share with the world. The career as a psychotherapist offers many avenues to pursue along with the hourly counseling of clients. Many psychotherapists are great speakers, great writers, great artists or dancers, or many are entertainers and teachers. Expanding a private practice to incorporate more then one talent can offer more ways to touch the lives of others and also bring in additional income. Interestingly enough, while pursuing these other avenues, most likely new clients will call for hourly appointments. The variety of sources of income can be stimulating and more fulfilling for the therapist.

The comfort and success a psychotherapist experiences directly reflects the state of mind of the psychotherapist in reference to money. Money is a symbol. It symbolizes freedom, power, abundance, security, and a welcome state of generosity. If the psychotherapist lives in fear of “ not enough” this will result in limited income and monetary problems. If the therapist believes in abundance, believes in herself or himself, believes in their life’s purpose and all that their talents can do to help the world, the therapist will experience financial success. Focusing on dreams and goals while absolutely knowing that accomplishing these dreams and goals is possible establishes an air of confidence and reliability for clients seeking help from a therapist. The energy emitted from this type of confidence and enthusiasm is infectious. Clients can feel it and want that kind of feeling for themselves. The way to create this kind of energy involves actually taking the time to visualize money as a friend, as a means to create whatever you wish to create. Each morning or evening, spend a few minutes imaging that you actually have and feel comfortable with large sums of money in your bank account. Feel the gift of being able to not only provide for yourself and for your family but also how it feels to use that money for the benefit of mankind. This exercise is a bit like working out. It takes practice and determination to expand our muscles, just as it takes those same behaviors to expand our thinking.

Secondly, you will need to refute whatever beliefs or feelings that come up to sabotage financial success. Each negative belief needs to be paired with an affirmation that includes a positive belief about yourself. An example might be: “If I am financially successful, I will feel guilty about having money when others are suffering financially. Someone else may deserve or need the money more than me.” The rebuttal is “ I promise to use the money in a way that benefits others, either by providing employment, giving to charities or directly helping others and it feels good to be able to do this.” Saying the affirmations out loud intensifies the positive effect because it will hit more then one of your senses. The repetition of these affirmations increases ones belief and commitment to oneself. It gets easier and more believable with time.

The great part about role modeling an adult view of money is that you will become a better role model for your clients and it will become more second nature to assist them with their money issues. Money is presently important in our world and as long as money is the ticket to some of the things we desire, we need to be a better “mother to our money”. Just believe in yourself, which is such a strong message we teach to our clients.

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