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 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
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.
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
When I was growing up, a cousin, about four or five years younger than me, asked his mother (in the hearing of several of us older kids) to chew his toffee for him because it was too hard.
He never lived it down.
At the time, I dismissed him as immature and childish. In recent times, I have begun to relate more to where he was at! I have begun to recognise that there’s a part of all of us that doesn’t want to do the dirty work, put out the bins, or have the difficult conversations. Read more
I have written on many occasions on the link between our beliefs and values about money and wealth and the direct impact they have on our ability to create a financially viable therapy practice.
Recently, I have been working with a client who has been exploring his struggle to earn a decent living in his small metalworking business, and to create financial security in his life. His name is John, and I have his permission to tell some of his story here to illustrate in concrete terms how beliefs that we have carried since childhood shape our way of being with money. These beliefs are often swallowed whole without subjecting them to any scrutiny. 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 was in my twenties when I first heard the expression “Poverty Consciousness” and I immediately related to it in myself. I understood it then as expressing a presumption that there is a finite amount of resources to go around and so everything I get takes from someone else. It expresses a bias in perception towards “what there is not” or “what is lacking” and away from “what there is.”
Poverty consciousness leads us to hold tight to what we have, in fear that there will be no more. It can lead people to stay in jobs or relationships that no longer serve them, or to collect things that have no meaning or value for them because they fear that nothing will fill the space left by the absence of those things. And it leads to a focus on external reasons for staying stuck, such as, “There’s no point marketing my practice because there aren’t any clients who have money to pay for therapy.”
And for many people, this perspective of the world is their reality. 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.
We all need support to help us grow. A plant needs sunlight, water and food. A child needs a safe home, food, love, encouragement, stimulation and space to explore. A therapy practice also needs support, and by extension, since we are the product or service we provide, we too need support in order to grow in the work, and to grow our practice.
What does support look like in this context?
We all need to have our basic needs met. These include physical needs for safety, warmth, closeness, and touch; emotional needs of encouragement, compassion, companionship, intimacy; psychological needs of interest and stimulation; and of course, financial needs of enough money to pay for what we need and want to buy.
Often when first meeting a client, we will ask them about their support network, in terms of the people around them who are supportive and caring. However, we know this is only part of the story. Learning what supports the client helps us to become more attuned to them in the work, and can help to smooth the path they are taking. Read more
It’s the Eurovision song contest, again. I’m old enough to remember when it was a huge event, the highlight of television viewing. We would be allowed to stay up late to see it, and there was excitement for weeks in advance about the Irish entry and its potential. The scoring was particularly exciting, and “Nul Points” was as common as “LOL.”
Of course, these days it’s not the big thing that it was. When we only had one TV channel, watching the Eurovision was a no-brainer. Now, between thousands of satellite TV channels, YouTube, and Netflix, something like the Eurovision Song Contest no longer has the star quality it once had.And this is the way of our world today. So many choices. I’ve often written about the choices available to our clients, and how we have to help them to find us in among all the dazzling range of healing options that are out there. There is another way, though, in which the overwhelming array of choices makes life difficult for a self-employed therapist. Read more
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