Category: Earning a Living

The Merits of Working for Nothing

Working for free is fine, and a valid marketing strategy, as long as we feel it’s our choice. However, it can breed expectation, so don’t take yourself for granted, or you’ll find others will too.

The marketing environment has changed hugely over the past few decades. Providing information, samples and services for free is now a major marketing strategy in many fields of business. I believe it was Helena Rubenstein in the 60s who first capitalised on the concept of the free sample, giving away a small sample of cosmetics to loyal customers, to introduce them to a new or different product. The practice is still used to great effect within that industry. The purpose of the free sample is to allow the customer a risk-free way of experiencing what is for sale, by allowing them to experience the merits of the product directly. It is seen as a valid expense of the business, a marketing cost. With the advent of the digital age with informational, music and movie products, free sampling has become the norm rather than the exception. The environment has changed. A lot is given for free.

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What Do You Want For and From Your Practice?

What is your desire for your practice, for your clients, and for yourself? It’s an interesting question, and I wonder how much time you have given to it.

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How much detail can you create about your desire before you interrupt yourself with something. It might be, “I never get what I want,” or, “It will be too difficult,” or, “I have to settle for what I can get.” Or it might be any one of a myriad of other obstacles that we put in the way of expressing what our desire is. Read more

Criticism Kills Off Our Desire

In a recent article about the creative process of setting up in practice, I wrote about how we can interrupt our desire by judging it. Criticism is toxic to creativity, whether it comes from others or from ourselves.

I have a big inner critic.

Some years ago, I worked with a coach who gave me a task, to ask people who knew me what they thought of me. When I read their feedback, at some level, I didn’t believe what was being said. I read it through distorted lenses, emphasising the negatives and diminishing the positives.

I reread the feedback recently, and was touched and humbled by the regard in which my friends and family hold me. I’m still reading it through those distorted lenses, but now I can allow in more of the truth of the positives, as well as seeing the negatives in a less exaggerated way.

Snapshot_20170318We all see ourselves in a distorted way. We look at ourselves as if looking in one of those silly mirrors you used to get at fairgrounds when I was growing up, where our heads look enormous, we look twice as tall, or we look shorter and rounder.  Or one of those apps that allow us to make silly pictures. We have these distortions in how we see others, and the world we live in too. Read more

Money Shows Up Our Trust Issues!

Nothing brings up trust issues as quickly or as obviously as money! (Except perhaps sex?)
I have had several clients who pay me at the start of the session rather than risk forgetting to pay at the end. I’ve asked about it and the answer is always the same, they don’t trust themselves to remember. They fear the possible shame they might incur if they had to be reminded by me, and make the judgement that it is better avoided. And I feel for them.
Wallet and some money on a wooden tableI remember my own huge shame when, driving home after therapy one evening, I remembered I had forgotten to pay my therapist. I pulled over to the side of the road and called her. I was sick with guilt, embarrassment and shame, and was ready to drive back (almost 20 miles) to correct the problem there and then, if she hadn’t insisted on leaving it until the following session. Looking back now, I can remember the intensity of those feelings, though they seem curiously out of proportion to the mistake. The underlying fear for me was that the relationship could not hold such a huge issue, and that my mistake could have been the end of the relationship. My fear was on a catastrophic scale. My thoughts ran riot with questions about my motivation for not paying. What was I saying in that? Was some part of me angry with my therapist and refusing to pay? What was going on for me that I had forgotten? How could I have done that? How could I be so stupid? It went on and on.

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Earning a Living From Therapy Practice

A recent article in the Irish Times said that an average family spent between €45, 000 and €50, 000 between running their home and car, food, property and water tax, education and childcare. This figure does not include Photo no (23)income tax, PRSI or USC, nor does it include provision for retirement. If we estimate that those taxes might reasonably amount to €15,000, a therapist who is the main breadwinner of a typical family of two adults and two children, would need to earn at least €60,000 after all expenses in order to support their family.

To put this in context, €60,000 equates to 1,000 hours at €60 per hour, or 20 hours every week for 50 weeks. This takes no account of any of the costs of practising (such as rent, insurance, supervision, professional memberships, or CPD), takes no account of holidays or sickness, and takes no account of cancellations or discounts. It also takes account of face to face client hours only, and ignores the time needed to generate those 1,000 client hours, or to do any of the other tasks of running a small professional practice.
It’s a big ask. Read more

What If The Boss Won’t Pay?

At a recent workshop at the IAHIP offices, a group of newly and nearly qualified therapists brainstormed their associations with the word “Business.” After the course, I was reflecting further on our discussion and, in particular, on the question of cancellation fees (always a good topic for an animated discussion among therapists). I was thinking about the differences between a therapy scenario and a workplace one.

Imagine the scene. You go for an interview and are accepted for a job. A contract is discussed and agreed, including details about hours and pay. However, when payday comes around, your boss refuses to pay you on the basis agreed. Would you accept that? Probably not.

1673557You’d be pretty miffed, I imagine. You might point to the contract of employment and say, “But we had an agreement.” You would probably be slow to commit yourself fully to continue working for that employer. I can’t imagine an employee feeling empathy for the employer, and pointing to the difficult circumstances they were experiencing as a reason not to expect their day’s pay. Read more

Earning More Money

Most therapists charge their clients on an hourly or sessional basis. They sit with their clients for an hour or 50 minutes, and the client pays a fee based on the time. This is a fairly typical arrangement in professions generally, although, it is slowly changing.Photo no (41)

One of the drawbacks of this approach from a financial point of view, is that there is an inherent limitation to what you can earn, as there are only so many hours in each week. Further, as a therapist, given the nature of the work we do and the impact it can have on us, there are only so many hours that can be spent sitting with clients. Read more

Dilemmas, Obstacles and Opportunities

Business Dilemmas Peculiar to Therapists

Being a therapist is different from having other jobs. Issues arise in therapy work that would be ignored in other occupations. There can be a belief in therapy circles that these dilemmas can restrict us in seeing a therapy practice as a business. Earning a living is often seen as much less important than the client work and sometimes there can be a negative attitude that suggests that being paid for our services diminishes their worth.

However, for some time now, the profession has been inching towards, well, greater professionalism. There are strict standards of training, the professional bodies have their rules and requirements, state regulation is getting nearer, and still, the perception persists that somehow doing it for free is virtuous while charging a fee is not.

In these articles, I don’t give much space to the clinical side of our work. Lots of more learned and wiser therapists than me do that very well. However, neither do I pretend that the clinical aspects of the work do not impact on the business side, of course they do. And it can be a challenge, to meet the dilemmas peculiar to our work as an opportunity to grow and enhance the lives of ourselves and our clients, rather than seeing them as restrictions and limitations. Read more

Clients Come Through People

Where does the income in your practice come from? Well, obviously from the fees you receive from clients or organisations who pay on the clients’ behalf. But that’s only part of the story.

We none of us exist in isolation. There is a constant process from birth to death of interacting with our environment. Basic physical functions that meet our bodies’ needs such as breathing, eating, and sleeping all involve interacting with our environment.

In the same way we receive and pay out money in a constantly moving cycle. We may dislike money, but that is the medium that our society has chosen to make the exchange of goods and services easier. Money is a convenient way for us to give what we have in order to receive what we want. We are paid for giving our services, and we use that money to buy goods and services from others. Read more