Why Isn't Therapy Free?
A few years into my career, I was chatting with an acquaintance about another acquaintance that had gone through a horrible tragedy. Knowing that I was a therapist, she said, “You need to help her.” Then, “And you shouldn’t make it about the money.” She went on to say how a lot of counselors are just in it for money, and that they should just help people because it’s the right thing to do. I was a little rattled – and offended – and although I responded appropriately, I thought of some way better comebacks a few days later.
That exchange got me to thinking a lot about why we counselors charge for our services, and why we need to feel more confident about doing so. If you struggle with the idea of paying for therapy, consider these reasons.
1. We have significant training and expertise –At the minimum, a licensed master’s level therapist has 2-3 years of post-bachelor’s education and must complete several thousand hours of supervised practice. We must meet state criteria for licensure and are accountable to our state boards of professional regulation. Each year we must complete a minimum number of clinical training hours to keep our licenses current. We also carry malpractice insurance. Many therapists have also obtained additional certificates and training beyond their minimum coursework. When you work with a licensed therapist, you are working with a highly-trained professional.
2. The therapeutic relationship is not a normal relationship– While good therapy involves talking and laughter maybe even drinking coffee, it is much different than chatting with a friend. Therapy is a one-way relationship, meaning that it is all about the person who is not sitting in the therapist’s chair. It’s one place you get to talk about you all the time, without feeling guilty or worrying about the other person’s needs. Paying the person in the therapist’s chair helps alleviate some of this guilt and allows for important boundaries to be drawn around the relationship.
3. The therapist is doing more than “just listening”– At every appointment, whether or not you realize it, your therapist is evaluating, assessing and formulating the appropriate treatment. We assess the safety level of our clients, their symptoms, functioning and their interpersonal needs. We make recommendations about what needs to be done to keep people safe, improve their quality of life and help solve their problems. We listen and watch our clients much, much differently than we do people in our other relationships.
Despite all the training and the vetting, not all therapists are created equally. If you feel that your therapist is not honoring the sanctity of your relationship, or if you feel you are not “getting what you pay for,” then it is critically important to talk through this with your provider.
Need more? If you are feeling stuck and need some outside help in managing your communication, emotions, or relationships, our team at Generations Counseling is available! Give us a call at 317-743-8202 or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org today.