As you establish your online counseling practice, it is important to determine your fee structure. Fortunately, this process is very similar to establishing fees for a traditional practice setting.
Investigate what other counselors in your area are charging for online services. You can often find this information by looking through the websites or online profiles of online therapists in your community. Many will include their fees or a fee range.
Is online counseling the same price as in-person therapy? More expensive? Less expensive? Some would argue that it should be less expensive than in-person therapy because we are not actually meeting with the client face-to-face in a traditional office setting. Others would contend that it should be more expensive than in-person therapy because clients are paying for the convenience of online sessions. For me personally, I consider online counseling to be equal to in-person therapy and therefore charge the same rate as I would for a traditional session.
As you further narrow down your pricing structure, you may be tempted to charge a bit less than your competitors in order to bring in more clients especially in the beginning of your new online practice. Unfortunately, this usually only brings in clients who are looking for the best deal – not necessarily the best counselor. These clients tend to be less committed to the process because the financial investment is not high. Instead, it is important to charge what you are worth! You are providing a valuable service in a unique way that is convenient and accessible to a multitude of clients across all the states where you are licensed. If your fees reflect your level of service, your ideal client will pay this fee to access your service. Test this and see for yourself!
Now that you have selected a fee structure for your online counseling practice, how should you advertise this information? Should you include it on your website? Provide the information to clients who reach out for the information via phone? There is variability in opinion on this subject as well. For me personally, I clearly state the information on the “pricing” page of my website. Reaching out for counseling can be a scary and intimidating process. I do not want potential clients to reach out, inquire about pricing, and then become disappointed if they cannot afford my services. What if they stop there and do not reach out to any other counselors in the area after this? Instead, I clearly post my fee structure so potential clients can compare this to their budgets and determine if this is the right fit for them or not.
As you set the fee structure for your online counseling practice, are there any other variables that you think should be considered? I would love to hear your feedback!
Are you interested in starting your own online practice? Thinking about adding online services to your existing practice? Wendy Galyen, LCSW and BC-TMH, is the founder of Thrive for Life Online Counseling, solely private pay and entirely online private practice in Indiana. Wendy provides customized consultation services for clinicians who are starting online counseling practices. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.