How much should I charge?
At almost every consultation group, marketing group, class or casual gathering of therapists I’ve been to, something comes up in conversation about fees. Money is so evocative. Everyone has feelings about it, and there's no way to avoid thinking about it if you are in private practice.
What we feel comfortable charging for our work is influenced by a number of factors including our psychologies, the market, our beliefs and values about money, our socio-economic class background and current class identity. Setting up a fee structure that will meet your needs is an essential part of having a sustainable practice and part of preventing burnout. So how do you decide what to charge? First look at the numbers. Then do the inner work.
Below is a easy formula to figure out an average hourly fee.
- Add up all your yearly business expenses- rent, liability insurance, consultation, membership dues, utilities, CEU classes, license fees, web hosting, online listings, etc.
- Add this number to the estimated yearly salary you want to be earning.
- Divide this number by the number of weeks you plan to work. For example, If you want 3 weeks vacation and a week of sick time, divide by 48. This number will be the Gross Income you need for each week worked.
- Divide this number by the number of sessions you plan to do in a week. This gives you the average hourly fee you need to earn.
Note that this is the average hourly you need to be earning. When you earn less than this amount from reduced fee sessions or insurance payments, you need to earn more from other sessions to hit this average and make the income you want. You can play around with this formula. What would it look like if you did a few more sessions each week? Reduced your expenses? Wanted another week of vacation? Added in the cost of your own therapy? Does your full fee need to be higher so you can afford to offer reduced fee sessions? If after playing around with some of the variables the number is way out of the range of what therapists in your area are charging, perhaps readjust your income expectations or consider other sources of revenue like teaching or offering workshops.
The inner work.
The numbers are the numbers. Pretty logical. All the thoughts and feelings that arise when looking at those numbers are part of the inner work of fee setting. Pretty emotional. If you feel conflicted about charging for your work, have doubts about the value of your work, or have other beliefs about money, therapy, or yourself that are getting in the way of being able to comfortably state your fee and have a conversation about it with a potential client or patient, then there is some inner work to be done. (Who doesn't have some inner work to do around money, really?) It's important stuff to look at if you want a sustainable private practice. If you'd like to be informed about upcoming workshops on fee setting, you can join my mailing list below.