It's common for therapists in private practice to have anxiety around money issues like how much to charge per session, how to ask clients for payment, and when to raise your fees. Getting comfortable talking about fees with clients is crucial to private practice success. After all, you own a business. In general, I think therapists charge too little for their services.
Several years ago, I resigned from managed care and I raised my psychotherapy fees at the same time. Fortunately, my practice didn't suffer financially from those decisions. What surprised me most about raising my per session fee was that the perceived value of my services went up. "You don't take insurance and charge a lot? You must be really good," was a sentiment that I heard frequently from potential clients.
Interestingly, I've found that clients tend to invest more in the therapy process because they are investing more money out of their own pocket for treatment.
If you're considering raising your fees, consider these 5 signs that the time has come to raise your fees.
1) You haven't raised your psychotherapy rate in over 5 years
If it's been over five years since you've raised your therapy fees, it's time to revisit the issue. Your cost of living goes up approximately 2% every year due to inflation. If you haven't raised your fees you are likely making less than you made five years ago.
2) Your full fee is equal to insurance reimbursement
If you set your fees based on what insurance companies are willing to reimburse, then your fees are too low. Historically, insurance companies reimburse at a much lower rate than the providers full fee.
3) You aren't making enough money to pay your bills
Your private practice needs to serve your clients and provide a sufficient income for you. If you are not making ends meet in your practice or your personal life you may need to reduces expenses and increase your rates.
4) You have a waiting list
A waiting list is a sign that your services are in demand and that clients will pay more for your services.
5) You've completed specialized training or certification
Your added expertise deserves additional compensation. If you have recently completed advanced training, like certification in DBT or Emotionally Focused Couples therapy, for example, you may want to charge more.
When is the last time you raised your rates? How do you decide when to increase your fees?