Great Time

Talking To Clients About Raising Your Fee

Last week I blogged about 5 signs that it's time to raise your fees. Once you've decided to raise your fees, the next steps are notifying your clients about this change, explaining your rationale and preparing to manage your client's varied responses. During my 10 years in private practice I've raised my fees three times. I've also consulted and coached many therapists on how to handle fee raises. Here are a few tips to help you feel more confident talking to clients about increasing your psychotherapy rates.

1) Raise your fees at milestones

I've found that it's easier to tell clients about a fee increase around natural milestones such as the beginning of a new year, the beginning of summer, or the beginning of a new school year. Professional milestones such as a new degree or certification are a also a great time to raise fees.

2) Give clients plenty of notice

I always give clients at least 30 days notice of fee increases to allow them to process their emotions and to plan for the additional expense. I suggest bringing the subject up in a therapy session first and follow up with a written letter. Therapist and private practice consultant Tamara G. Suttle M.Ed., LPC suggests following up your verbal notification with a formal letter indicating the amount and the date the increase will become effective.

3) Raise your fees in waves

I have found it helpful to raise my fees for new clients initially, while keeping current clients at the same rate for an additional 6 months. Existing clients have expressed appreciation for allowing them to remain at the lower rate for an extended period of time and they often find new motivation to work harder and wrap up their therapy before the fee increase goes into effect.

4) Be prepared for a variety of responses

Money is a loaded issue. Be prepared for a variety of emotional responses in your clients and in yourself. Clients may respond angrily, passive aggressively, or they may seem unaffected. It's not uncommon for clients to have a delayed response to your fee change. Notification of fee raises brings up a lot of good clinical "grist for the mill" to process in upcoming sessions.

Do you have any suggestions for handling this delicate topic with clients?

(c) Can Stock Photo

From Cosmo to Wall Street: 7 Tips For Giving Great Interviews

Cosmo to WSJ

What do you think of when you think of professional networking? Private practice therapists who I've worked with in business consultations usually consider networking to be meeting with other like-minded professionals for lunch or handing out business cards to physicians offices.

While those are important ways to make connections that build your therapy practice, there are other ways to get the word to thousands and thousands of people in one shot, instead of just a few folks at a time.  Rarely do shrinks think of networking with reporters.

Over the last few years I've focused on responding to reporter queries seeking quotes from experts on a variety of mental or emotional health issues, and family relationship advice. There are a few who now contact me for quotes when they are pitching new articles or stories. I've had a great time corresponding with them by email or talking by phone.

This month I am thrilled to have quotes in:

Cosmopolitan Magazine (June 2012) article "Are we boring"

Wall Street Journal (today May 15, 2012) "For a nation of whiners, therapist try tough love" (with a photo included)

Click here to see quotes in other national publications

Tips for interviewing with reporters and journalists:

1) Seek out opportunities

Keep an eye out for opportunities to interview with local and national reporters. Sign up for services that notify you of reporters looking for interviews, like Reporter Connection, ProfNet Connection, Expert Engine.

2) Respond to requests ASAP

I've come to realize that journalistic deadlines are incredibly tight, and the sooner I respond, the better. I've interviewed one afternoon for an E! Online article and it posted that evening. When I get an email request for an interview I will respond right then on my smart phone with comments off the top of my head. I've been known to pull over on the side of the road while driving carpool to respond to an interview request.

3) Avoid psychobabble

Interviewing with the popular media is different than talking with colleagues. Fellow shrinks can talk in short hand with acronyms like DBT, CBT and EFT; we know what transference and countertransference are, but most people don't know and don't care. Always use layman's terms that can be easily understood even if someone's never taken Psychology 101.

4) Give quotable sound bytes

In the therapy office, we are used to taking our time, starting where the client is, and exploring client's deeper emotions. Media interviews require doing the opposite of what you do in therapy.  In media interviews you have to get right to the point. Most journalists are looking for a few engaging and relevant sentences to support their piece, not a dissertation.

5) Let your passion show

I think part of why I've been successful in getting quoted in national publications is because I show my passion for the work and for the topic of the story or article. Even in email correspondence, don't be afraid to show your personality and be approachable. I also openly share my gratitude for the interview opportunity and how much I enjoy media interviews.

6) Make your contact info easy to find

Make sure that your name and credentials (the way you'd like them to appear if you're quoted), your email address, and your cell phone number are easy to find in any correspondence. Reporters don't have time to hunt you down.

7) Ask them to contact you again

At the end of each interview or correspondence, whether you interview or not, be sure to ask them to keep you in mind as a resource in the future. Ask them to keep your contact information should they need your expertise in the future.