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
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
I have said in many previous posts that if a therapy practice is not growing into the place you would like it to be, if it is not progressing past the early sapling stage into a mature tree, then there may be some underlying issues about money, wealth or deserving going on under the surface.
One of the really tricky things about looking at money issues in relation to establishing and developing a therapy practice is that money can be a metaphor for other things, such as love, security or power. Because of that, money issues can turn up as something quite unconnected to money, and other issues can express themselves through money. We are all aware of how a client can be talking about one thing, but there is another issue deeper under the surface which is also being explored.
I grew up in a Catholic family and went to Catholic school. I heard a lot about forgiveness. There was a lot of pressure to resolve differences and restore the equilibrium. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against forgiveness, or the Catholic Church. However, people process experiences at different speeds, and sometimes an upset can be hurried towards resolution too soon. The danger in this is that the hurt goes underground. And unacknowledged hurt or wounding can fester in the shadow, until someone or something triggers it, and all the bile spews out.
When we have not received the apology or the recompense we feel is appropriate, some part of us is left feeling that we are owed. When this happens we can find subtle and well disguised ways of holding accountable those who we see are responsible for our hurt. In her book, The Language of Letting Go, Melody Beattie says, “Punitive damages are awarded in court, but not in recovery.” But the part of us that wants vengeance may not understand this.
If we are still holding on to an old wound, waiting to be compensated for the hurt we have felt, our bank balance may speak to the truth of that, even if the wounding had nothing whatsoever to do with money. “You owe me,” may be reflected in financial disappointments, investments that go sour, and unexpected costs or losses. In terms of our practices, we may experience clients not paying, or letting us down, being overly demanding or in some other way literally leaving us owed.
“You owe me,” can play out in small dishonesties, such as not fulfilling our responsibilities to an employer, or understating our income for taxes. It can be disguised, for example, by excessive generosity which leaves other people in our debt, or being excessively pedantic in money matters and counting each cent. If we have been selfless in a relationship and feel resentful that our needs are unimportant in relation to others, we may be holding out for our payback. “You owe me,” may also be recognised in having to invest more work or energy than others for less return. Or specifically in the context of a therapy practice, feeling demanded of by clients.
Another way to understand this is that we unconsciously equate money with love. A healthy bank balance symbolises that we are loved (by our paying clients). However, when we have unacknowledged wounding, it does not allow us to be loved, because our ongoing struggle is evidence of how much we have been hurt. To be financially healthy when we have unresolved hurts and wounds could be to minimise or even trivialise our past experiences. This can act as an unconscious bar to creating a practice that is financially viable.
Does any of this resonate with you? Remember, your unconscious is always looking out for your best interests, even if it doesn’t appear so! My wish is that you be kind and compassionate with yourself in exploring these ideas. And if I can help with any of that, I’d love to hear from you. Contact me here.
Learning a new skill, such as driving or becoming a therapist, involves a process. In learning to drive, the route is pretty simple. You learn the theory, then you do your driver theory test. Next, you go out and take some lessons. When you’re proficient enough, you do the test. And if you’ve learned your lessons well, you’ll get your licence.
A similar process takes place when you train to be a therapist. You go to school, you learn a bit, then you start trying out your new skills on others in the school, and finally on clients. If you do your lessons well, you’ll earn your qualification. You spend a couple of years putting in client hours, and eventually, you have earned your accreditation. Read more
I’ve written before about my belief that money is a bit of a shadow in our profession, and probably for everyone at some level. It’s a subject I have a lot of interest in, having some money related trauma in my past, and from my earlier career in accountancy. I recently came face to face with a visual image of one aspect of my own money shadow which I thought I might share with you today.
Why is it important to look at our own money shadow? For the same reason that uncovering any shadow aspect of ourselves is important, because as long as it stays in the shadow, it uses energy to keep it hidden, and it is in danger of sabotaging us in some way. Read more
Do you work with others in your practice? Perhaps it’s not as formal as a partnership, but arrangements with other practitioners are common in therapy. Often people come together to share costs and otherwise have little interaction, but if you can co-operate with others around you in relation to some of the common tasks, it will make your life much easier! Read more
I started smoking when I was about 14. I didn’t much like the taste of cigarettes, but I persisted. There were lots of cigarettes about which made it easy. My parents discouraged us from smoking, but since they smoked themselves, it didn’t have much effect!
Smoking filled a lot of needs for me. Like many teenagers, I was socially awkward, and smoking helped me to feel more grown up. I saw my two elder sisters smoking, and wanted to be like them. Most of my friends smoked, and when I smoked, I felt that I belonged in that group. There were a gang of boys that I was interested in, and they also smoked. Read more
So you’re in a job and thinking of becoming self-employed? Or maybe it’s some time since you’ve been in the workplace, and you’re weighing up the choices.
It’s a big step, bigger than you might think, so if you’ve never worked for yourself before, think carefully before making the leap. The thing most people underestimate is the extent to which being employed by someone else creates a framework and a structure within which you operate. While this might feel restrictive and stifling at times, it also creates boundaries, and hence, safety. When you’re self-employed, you have to do this for yourself, and some people are better at it than others. To some extent, your family history will influence which choice is better for you. Someone who has no family history of self-employment will find it more of a challenge to step into that role. Read more
For some time when I first started practice, I was plagued by calls from an online advertising agency who wanted my business. Their approach was pushy and aggressive, persistent and intrusive. They always managed to call when I had just started to eat, or relax with a book. It drove me mad. I felt like I was being assaulted in my own home.
My upbringing asked of me that I always be polite, and respectful of what other people had to say. I can find it difficult to say “No” directly. So I was polite to these callers, and declined their services as best I could. The calls kept coming. Eventually, I found a way to manage it by asking for my number to be removed from their call list. Read more
There are two main schools of thought when it comes to how to do things: that we should get ourselves into alignment with what we want before we take action (or in other words, wait until we feel ready) or that we should take the action anyway. Personally, I move backwards and forwards between these two approaches. Read more