You may wonder as a new practitioner, what level of fees to charge? The BACP publish an annual Counselling and Psychotherapy Resources Directory and you can request a copy for your area (as well as nationally, if you wish). The therapists listed will normally quote their fees or fee scales, and this will give you a better idea of what would be appropriate for you. Bear in mind two things – unless you’re very anxious to build up a clientele at all costs, don’t pitch your fees too low. Apart from the volume of clients you’ll then need to see to make a reasonable income, you’ll also have the difficulty of raising fees when the demand for your services becomes greater.
Review your fees annually and state this as a clear policy on the Client Information Sheet you should give to all new clients. (This sheet should give them the practical information they need regarding your terms of working, and will act as an informal contract between you. You’ll be able to find further details on putting this together in one or more of our “further reading” recommendations at the end of this chapter). If you don’t do so it could be seen that any increase in fees changes the initial contract whereas by simply stating, “fees are subject to annual review” you’ll have covered yourself should you wish to raise your fee level. It is helpful to be aware of the current charges of other therapists, if you’re in a competitive environment.
Should you have difficulty with unpaid fees, and all reasonable requests for payment are ignored, going through your local Small Claims Court is a simple procedure. In all probability the mention of possible legal action may persuade your client to settle his account.
If you do decide to take this course of action you’ll need to send the client a letter stating that if you don’t receive payment by a certain date you’ll take legal action. Send the letter by registered post so that you have evidence of posting and if the client does not pay by the stated date all you need to do is decide whether to follow-through or not. I suspect theoretical orientation will colour your view of the various options open to you.
This post is part of the free E-Course “How to Develop Your Therapy Practice”. Each lesson only covers the
bare essentials of what you need to learn and should not form your only source of information.
For the complete detailed guide which takes you through each step of setting up and building a successful
Therapy Practice – click here.
If you missed the previous lessons, here are the links:
An Introduction to Private Practice
Is Private Practice for You?
Are You Ready for Private Practice?
What are the Initial Considerations?
Developing a Client Base