one change that will transform how you feel about charging clients - Jane Travis - Grow Your Private Practice

Are you a counsellor that doesn't feel comfortable charging clients? 

There are a lot of us about where frankly you'd prefer to never have to deal with the exchange of cash, but you started a private practice due to the lack of salaried positions and that means charging clients. 

When I first started out I struggled with this too - it was something I often talked about in supervision.

Then I made this one ridiculously simple change that transformed how I feel about charging clients...

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one change that will transform how you feel about charging clients - Jane Travis - Grow Your Private Practice

I love words: I love a well written book with it's intricate descriptions, painting pictures of characters and scenery and emotions. 

I'm always aware of the words a client uses in counselling sessions. They might say 'sorry' a lot, or talk about what they 'should' do, or 'try' to do, or 'need' to do, or tell me how they feel guilty or selfish if they want to meet one of their own needs. 

For example, if a client feels guilt a lot, we explore this - what does feeling guilty mean to you? What is the actual definition? Does *insert situation here* mean you are a bad person and have done something wrong?

Then, we look at alternative words.  We could exchange 'guilt', which is admitting that you've done something wrong for 'regret' or 'unfortunate':

'I feel guilty for not picking them up from the airport at 2am', Vs 'It's unfortunate that I couldn't pick them up at 2am as I had to work the next day'.

I ask clients to allow themselves to become aware of using whatever the offending word is over the week and the really interesting thing is, once they become aware of it something changes for them.  

A small internal shift that makes a big difference.  

There is a small change in language that will *work in your business too.   

Counselling is a 'helping profession'.  We help people in need, and it's the word 'help' that can cause us problems. 

Because how can we charge people that need help?

You wouldn't 'help' an old person over the road and expect to be paid, would you?

No!  Because help is given for free.  Help is charitable.  

I know so many counsellors and therapists that really struggle with charging clients. It feels wrong, almost like you're taking advantage of people in distress.

You're not of course, but if this is an issue for you, try this:

Change the word 'help' to 'work'.

So for example, on your website instead of 'I help people to manage their anxiety' change it to 'I work with people to manage their anxiety'.

Because being a counsellor is extremely hard work. 

It's not just a chat, or simply listening to a clients story. it's 100% focus on your client for 50 mins, hearing, dissecting and making sense of what they share with you.  I'm exhausted after a day's counselling.

It is hard work training (many of us juggling kids and work and responsibilities) and it's hard work practicing. 

Changing 'help' to 'work' is one of those small, subtle changes that really packs a punch.  

Try it!  And let me know how you get on.

Can you think of any other wordy substitutions you could use? Share them in the comments.

P s Did you notice the * earlier in this post? Read the sentence again substituting 'work' for 'help' - notice the difference?


Are issues around money making you undercharge, struggle with boundaries and feel guilty? Then get the Grow Your Private Practice book, where we have a comprehensive look at your money mindset along with ideas how to make a change. Just click the button below.

Grow Your Private Practice book, for counsellors and psychotherapists

About the Author Jane

Jane lives in beautiful Lincoln with her 2 boys and rescue dog. When she's not talking about herself in the third person, she's usually found with her feet up and eating Maltesers. Sometimes she even shares them with friends. Follow me on Instagram

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