Do you feel guilt when thinking about putting your fees up? Can changing your perspective to seeing money as a symbol for impact reconcile your feelings of guilt as a Christian counselor? What are some simple steps to help you to take action towards the life you want?
In this podcast, Whitney Owens speaks with Tiffany McClain about how to raise your rate guilt-free.
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Tiffany McLain, LMFT is a therapist & clinical fee strategist for therapists in private practice whose mantra is, “Full fees are the new black.” Via her program, The Lean In. MAKE BANK. Academy, she helps therapists ethically earn 30 to 50% more per month while seeing fewer clients by showing them how to think about and directly address fees in a clinically appropriate manner.
Access the fun fees calculator.
In This Podcast
- You can be financially independent and still be close to God
- Grow your wealth to grow your healing
- Tiffany’s tips on raising your rates
You can be financially independent and still be close to God
I grew up being told [that] you have to be poor or you have to be meek to be able to be close to God and yes I do think there is an element of that … but it’s not mutually exclusive. You can have money and still be close to God and still give to others and still have a strong faith but I almost think that there is this idea that if you have a lot of money you must not be a good Christian person. (Whitney Owens)
Many people get caught up in being perceived as being a “good Christian person” that it blocks them from actually receiving blessings and owning up to their hard work when rewards come their way.
Of course, there is humility in financial struggle, and even though it is incredibly difficult and scary, it can deepen your faith, but it does not have to be that way, and people should not expect you to constantly be in suffering to believe that you are a good Christian person.
What I [consider] some of those stories, I think there is so much to be said about how you handle your money and how you think about your money more so than your actual amount of money. You can have someone be so generous with everything … and being a good steward of your money. (Whitney Owens)
Grow your wealth to grow your healing
We have been given … the ability to create wealth and so I think it’s so interesting … [if] the master is a metaphor for God is saying “I want you to take the wealth you have, even if it’s a little bit, and double it, triple it! I want you to make more” and money is a symbol for impact, so if you have more money as a therapist in private practice … you are somebody who has a desire to serve and ethical, you are undoubtably going to take that money and make a bigger impact in the world. The more impact you make, the more money you have and its exponential growth. (Tiffany McClain)
When you grow your wealth as a therapist, it means that you can have more impact in your community and help more people in your community. When you help more people, you increase your wealth and you grow your impact: it is a multiplying gift and you can be an active part of it.
You can grow your wealth and handle it well so that you can give back to the community and offer reduced or even free therapy to people who need it. In this way, by making money and building the financial strength of your practice, you can help people who you would not have been able to help before.
Tiffany’s tips on raising your rates
- Get clear about the reality of your current financial situation, your needs, and your wants.
- Allowing the feelings to be there. Do not push them away, sit with them, and do not argue with them. Become real with the connection between the life that you want and how much that may cost you and know that you – and your ideal life – are worth that effort.
When we start thinking about the feelings related to our fees not as fact but as symbolic and unconscious communications about both our experience of the world but also something happening relationally with our clients. If we shift from thinking about raising fees or charging more … as something that hurts our clients … and instead start thinking clinically … what are we communicating about our relationship, our independence, our need, and our responsibility?
- Start making the change: what is the chasm between what you need to charge to create the life you want and what you are actually charging now?
It is a simple process but full of emotion. Make room for you to feel the emotions. Know that you and your health are also worth giving attention to.
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Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.
Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.
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Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow and scale your practice from a faith-based perspective. I will show you how to have an awesome faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.
I’m seriously coming off a high from such a great weekend. I just did my first in-person conference since COVID and it was fabulous. Even though we were wearing masks, we were able to connect and get to know one another. I was able to meet some fantastic people that I’ve been working with the past two years that I’ve never been able to see in person. So shout out to all of you that drove and major way down to Jacksonville to meet me in person. So over the weekend, a wonderful residential facility called Honey Lake Clinic hosted a round table event. It was totally free, it was one night stay in a hotel, free meals and wonderful speakers to be able to learn how to grow your faith-based practice and learn from other Christian counselors. It was amazing. It’s so important that we stay in community as Christian counselors, because this is a lonely field that we are in as therapists even more so when we’re bringing our faith into the mix. We really need that community alongside us.
So want to make sure if you’ve been listening to this podcast, thanks for listening, of course, and I also want to make sure that you know more about how to get connected in the Faith in Practice community. I do have a Facebook group that is totally free for people that are starting, growing and scaling their faith-based practices and it’s called Faith in Practice. Easy to find. If you can’t find it, shoot me an email email@example.com. Happy to help you. But in that community, I post live videos, give tips and tell you about awesome events. So that round table event, I posted it in the group and several people came because they saw that post and we were able to meet in person and talk about growing our practices, talk about the Lord, be able to have community with one another. So if you’re not in the group, please get on Facebook, become a part of that group.
And then if you’re looking for extra resources and building your practice, I have tons of them. And I would love to send those to you. I would love for you to jump on my email list, where I give quick tips and helping you to start growing scale, your faith-based practice to do that. Go to practiceofthepractice.com\faithinpracticeresources. There you will have the option to download a PDF on five common pitfalls between counselors and churches, where I help you understand where our churches and pastors and counselors disconnecting so that we can come together to do better referrals with one another. Also in my email list, when cool dents are happening, or maybe just something neat that I heard about that I want to share with you, I throw it in my email list as well. So I want you take full advantage of that. It’s important that we stay in community in this world that we’re in.
I am excited about this episode today because I interviewed Tiffany McLlain and she is so cool. I actually did not know Tiffany until I was going through Instagram and she has the best videos about teaching therapists, not to feel guilty about raising their rates. And we know in the faith-based community, we feel guilty or than ever sometimes about raising our rates. And so I love how she brings that to the table. She also brings some amazing scripture to the table today when we’re talking. So we really, I really enjoyed interviewing her and getting to know her and hope to continue to connect with her in the future. So you’re going to love this episode with Tiffany McLain. And this is episode number 81 on how to raise your rates guilt-free.
Today on the Faith in Practice podcast, I’ve got Tiffany McLain, LMFT. She’s a therapist and clinical fee strategist for therapists in private practice whose mantra is full fees are the new black. Via her program, The Lean In. MAKE BANK. Academy, she helps therapists ethically earn 30 to 50% more a month while seeing fewer clients by showing them how to think about and directly address fees in a clinically appropriate manner. Thanks for coming on the show today.
[TIFFANY McLAIN] It’s my pleasure. I’m excited.
[WHITNEY] Awesome. Well, Tiffany, I would love to kind of hear your background and kind of how you got into this business.
[TIFFANY] Sure. So, and because I know that this is a faith podcast, I’m going to also talk about my religious background as well and part of this journey. So I grew up, in my early years, my family were Seventh Day Adventist. So there’s some generations of Seventh Day Adventist, my church. When I was about seven. My mom left that church Seventh Day Adventist. So we went to a non-denominational church. So I then went from Seventh Day Adventist to non-denominational and was in the church through my teens into probably into my early twenties. And I’m no longer Christian, I’m no longer of the faith community but I was very much informed and influenced by a lot of the thinking around money, thinking about what we’re allowed to accomplish, women, people of color, really how to think about what does it mean to be wealthy? You know blessed are the meek. So there are a lot of lessons I learned growing up in the church that is still have influenced me to this day. And it’s interesting in my program, where I help therapists earn more money. We have a lot of Christian folks. And even in my last launch, a lot of people reached out who are Seventh Day Adventists.
So I’m like, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I think I still attract a lot of folks who have a Christian background currently. So I ended up becoming a therapist, had a lot of trouble with charging fees, felt guilty around charging for my services, looked around to other supervisors, mentors, other professionals to help me think about it, found the same thing, guilt and anxiety or obligation and the resentment whenever it came to thinking or talking about money in the clinical setting. And so I set out to figure out how do we actually charge, especially women, especially people of color, how do we charge fees that we actually need and want? We spend all this time getting educated, all this time and money investing in becoming therapists and social workers. So how do we actually get paid to have a life we want on the other side without getting caught up in these conflicts around giving back and feeling guilt and anxiety about our desire to help others as a conflict with making money ourselves. So I really went on that journey myself and now I help other therapists with that.
[WHITNEY] That’s so awesome. And boy, in the faith community, it is awful. I mean, so many people come to me, Christian therapists, and I’ll just go ahead and start sharing some of the things they’re telling me. And then I would love for you to like speak to some of this. One of the big ideas is like people are out there doing ministry for free, missionaries and stuff like that. And so if you’re a therapist and you’re offering ministry in your office and you can’t charge those types of fees to offer that and we specifically hear this from churches. We go talk to a church about our therapy practice and the pastor comes back or the congregation comes back and says, “What are you doing? Like people in need can’t afford that.”
Hmm, really interesting. So when thinking, this is new to me, so I’m very excited about to dive into this. So I think about even this foundational concept you’re putting out, I have questions for you around it. The idea of if you’re a therapist in private practice you are providing ministry, so therefore you shouldn’t be charging for it. So my first question is, is there a difference between being a licensed clinical social worker or a marriage and family therapist or a PhD psychologist? Is there a difference between what you do as a skilled psychotherapist and what you’re doing in ministry or are they exactly the same thing?
[WHITNEY] That’s good.
[TIFFANY] That’s the question, I mean, I really curious if you have an answer for that.
[WHITNEY] I know it’s a question, but it’s a good one. I’m like, ”Yes, you’re right. They’re different.” Like when I go to church and I do ministry, oh yes, I mean, when I do ministry, I don’t do clinical skills. I might listen to people, but I’m going to talk more about theology or I might talk just about fun things with them. Like, I don’t necessarily do clinical work, so it’s not like I’m pulling out CBT, you know what I mean? And that’s a totally different skill. So I got trained in.
[TIFFANY] Yes. That’s really interesting. It makes me think about, and that is not unsimilar to a lot of the anxiety. I think about social workers or a lot of marriage and family therapists who want to give back and do want to make an impact in their community, when other people say, “How dare you give back or, hey, you, you shouldn’t be charging for that.” I think that therapists have a hard time stepping back and recognizing, “Oh, I am a social worker, or I do want to get back, or I am of the faith, or I do provide ministry, but this is also my job. This is my profession. That’s different than what I’m doing over there.” So if you, if you go to a surgeon and you say you should be doing surgery for free, you’re really negating and devaluing all of the work that professional put in to becoming a professional. And for some reason, therapists, we do this to ourselves where we negate the professional part of our profession and our skillset when we get into these conversations with people who say, “Well, you’re just listening to people. Well, you’re here to help people. Why are you charging for it?” It’s really devaluing the work that one does as a therapist.
[WHITNEY] Yes. That’s such a good point. And I’m just saying, I love that question. You asked me and I’m going to be using that in my consulting, because that really hit me to think through that. Yes.
[TIFFANY] Interesting. What else do folks say when they’re struggling with this charging as therapists to private practice?
[WHITNEY] Yes. And I would say it’s that way for individual counseling for sure. But then churches will reach out and ask if you will come do a talk or will you come do a seminar and then people go and do it for free. And honestly, Tiffany, I have a hard time trying to convince them sometimes to pay for it, asking for payment for it. And I’d be curious to hear from you if somebody kind of said to you, ”Hey, this church wants me to come and do this seminar.” How do you kind of convince them that, “Hey, you need to be charging for this.”
[TIFFANY] Let me ask you when you think about why therapists should be, or when you advise them to charge for it, what’s your reasoning for that?
[WHITNEY] Hmm. My reasoning is time and also the professional aspect that you just gave me. Like you’re a professional, but there’s so much, so I’m thinking a little bit more about individual, but when you put your money into something, it gives value to the experience. So like, I’m thinking about it. We did this thing at our church where couples would come and they would come to a seminar and we would produce it as a practice. We’d kind of split them all up depending on topics and all that kind of stuff and then the couples would go on a date night and the kids got childcare.
[WHITNEY] We got paid by the church for that. And that was really great and then the actual couples had to pay to come. Now they paid like a low fee, not anything what it should have been, but putting some money there, brought more value for them and made them show up for the sessions that maybe they wouldn’t have shown up for if they hadn’t put money into it.
[TIFFANY] I think that’s a really important point. And I know you’re talking about a workshop or going out to do a speaking engagement with somebody, but that also applies with our clients too most certainly. Like when we ask somebody to invest in something, they are also investing not only their money, but their money as a symbol of a desired outcome, desire to make a change, effort. So the reason I asked why you advise people to charge is sometimes I think about, okay, if therapists want to charge premium fees in their private practice, and then they still want to give back to the community, one way may be to go do speaking engagements at a church pro bono as your way to give back to the community if you’re doing really well financially in your private practice. So that’s one argument why you might do a pro bono thing at a church speaking engagement or workshop.
However, it comes back to your question of how is the church valuing you as a professional? Like if you’re going to have Joe Biden come speak your church or whomever you look up to, you’re likely going to expect to pay for his time, pay Joe Biden to come speak. Or when you really value and admire the work somebody does most often as a business or an organization, your expectation is that you’re going to be paying hard earned money to have that person come as a token of appreciation. So there is some question again around the devaluing of, “Hey, I expect you,” if a church says, “I expect you to come speak here and I expect you to do it for free,” there are some questions around that expectation, and it’s an incumbent upon the therapist to be clear about their own, the value of the work they do and the service they do and the communication they’re giving to a church or whomever.
When you do your services for free, what are you communicating about the level of skill, your experience, the work you’ve put into developing this knowledge? What are you saying when you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to give this away for free, not only the I’m presenting, but also the hours leading up to and creating that content to present you. It’s important for us to be aware of what we’re communicating when we do work for free.
[WHITNEY] That’s so true. I was just thinking we don’t get our hair cut for free.
[TIFFANY] Absolutely not, yes.
[WHITNEY] Yes, yes. I’ll share a little bit of my story. I went to the University of Georgia and worked at the campus ministry that was there for three years. So you basically, it’s a missionary job. Like I raised support and I served the students that are there. And gosh, it’s just funny to think back on those days, like I hardly had anything, praying for the next check to come through, knowing that I got my rent, you know? And so then it was like, well you know, you go through grad school and you really don’t make much money there. I mean, you’re barely making by, and then you do all the other work. It’s like, I’m just now at a place in my life where I actually make enough money where I’m not stressed all the time. And when I was first got to that place, it felt weird or wrong.
[TIFFANY] Interesting. Yes, like you notice the feeling of ease, financial safety felt unusual, or that felt uncomfortable for you. Tell me a little bit more about what it felt like to have financial safety.
[WHITNEY] Well, it felt good to know that if my car broke down, I wouldn’t be unable to get to my job, but it’s that idea of what we were talking about with the church. It’s like, I grew up being told you have to be poor, or you have to be meek to be able to be close to God. And I do think there is an element of that. Like, yes, you’re more dependent on the Lord when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, but it’s not mutually exclusive. Like you can have money and still be close to God and still give to others and still have a strong faith. But I almost think that there’s this idea that if you have a lot of money, you must not be a good Christian person.
[TIFFANY] It’s so interesting and so true. And even when thinking about coming onto the show, I was trying to pinpoint where exactly are these messages in the Bible. So there is blessed are the meek for, they will inherit the kingdom of heaven, but meek doesn’t mean poor, first of all. So let’s separate those two things. There is this one, it’s what, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. That’s one that I definitely very clearly points out equates wealth with inability to get to heaven, which is interesting, but I’m curious if you know, Whitney, any other specific passages or scriptures that really draw parallel to, if you do well financially, you are not allowed to be close to God or you are not a good Christian. Anything come to your mind?
[WHITNEY] Girl, you got good questions here for me today. Yes, I mean, there’s definitely the story of, I think it’s also called the rich man and he comes to Jesus and he says, “How do I get to have?” And He says, “Sell all you have and give to the poor and follow me.” And he’s like, “Ah-ah.” I can’t remember if it’s the same story or different story. There’s another one where a rich man goes to hell, but when I point some of those stories, I think that there’s so much to be said for how you handle your money and how you think about your money, more so than your actual amount of money because you can have someone be so generous with everything. It’s all about knowing what God has given you and giving it back to God and being a good, and I’m getting really conservative here, but like this idea of being a good steward of your money.
[WHITNEY] I mean, I do think there is something to be said about that.
[TIFFANY] Yes, I agree with that a hundred percent. And I think that’s universal, being a good steward of your money, both allows you to have more and allows you to make a bigger impact. The story that always comes to mind, in fact, I talk about this in my program, the faith is definitely in me, I often think about the story of the talent. Are you familiar with that one, the parable of the talents?
[TIFFANY] Right. That one, I’m sure all your listeners know, but to jog your memory, it’s the idea of this man going off on a journey. He has three servants and he divides up what he has to these servants. One, he gives five talents or think about them as coins, the other one he gives two and to the last one, he gives one. He goes off. When he comes back, the one who had five, he went off and made five more and said, “Look, master, I made you five more coins. Here’s 10.” The master says, “That’s amazing.” And also, by the way, in this parable, it says, this is a metaphor for the kingdom of heaven, by the way. So the master says, “That is amazing. You’ve taken what I gave you and made more. You get into heaven.”
Number two second guy, “Hey, I took your two coins, I made two more. Here you go.” Master says, “You’ve done exactly what I wanted. You get into heaven.” Third one says, “I took your coin, I know how hard you’ve worked, I know you don’t want to lose anything, I buried it in the ground. I dug it up, here you go. Here’s your dirty coin. I saved it for you. And the master just goes off on him, like, “How dare you? You know how hard I work to create what I have and you’re going to take my coin and bury it and give it back to me? Go to hell.” Like really cast him down. “You’re never going to get it in here.”
So really when I think about that, I think about that in terms of we have been given talents or the ability to create wealth. And so I think it’s so interesting in the story, the master, we could think about the master as a metaphor for God or the kingdom of heaven is saying I want you to take the wealth you have, even if it’s a little bit and double it and triple it. I want you to make more. And money is a symbol for impact. So if you have more money as a therapist in private practice, you are a good person. You’re somebody who’s of the faith, you’re somebody who has a desire to serve and is ethical. You are undoubtedly going to take that money and make a bigger impact, and the more impact you make, the more money you have and it’s exponential growth.
And so when people are worried about, “Oh, if I take money, I’m greedy. Let me just hold onto what I have and not ask for too much. You’re basically, you’re not even basically, you are doing what this person with a one talent did, which God says, “Don’t do that. That’s not what I want of you.”
[WHITNEY] Yes. So I’m so glad you brought that up because like God wants to use money to do His work in the world. And so when we, when we hide it or we hold on to it, like that’s not happening. Actually speaking of that passage that really spoke to me when I was trying to decide if I wanted to do faith-based consulting, because I was running away from it. And I was like, “There’s too many consultants out there and I don’t want to be the faith person.” And then God just kept hitting me over the side of the head. But that passage was very convicting to me because the idea that I have this gift to help faith-based practices and He wants to multiply, multiply, multiply that gift. But I was like, hiding it under the sand. So it can mean money and it can mean so much, like so much there. And money is, it’s a way that God moves in the world in a lot of ways. And so being able to use that to further His kingdom and even as a therapist, like we use it with our clients. I mean, we have a special relationship with an organization here in Savannah called Cure, and it helps children with childhood cancer. And so we can offer discounted therapy to people who need it because we’ve been able to make money off the rest of the practice.
[TIFFANY] Yes, absolutely. I think that’s a beautiful example of using your wealth to give back, but you certainly can’t give back if you’re coming from this scarcity mind, a place of anxiety, a place of guilt and conflict, a place of fear about raising your fees. If you’re in a place of guilt and resentment and fear and anxiety, there is no room for abundance or creativity or generosity. So really working to disentangle and pay close attention. When I’m thinking about raising my fees, “Am I not doing it because I’m terrified and guilty and feel bad?” I don’t think God wants anyone to be in that, operating from a place of guilt, anxiety, obligation, and resentment. Getting out of that actually allows for spaciousness and when you’re coming from a place of spaciousness, you also going to be, it’s just by virtue of the way the world works, you’re going to be making more money.
[WHITNEY] Oh yes. And then I just think of the idea that if I didn’t have the needs I have, I wouldn’t be able to care for my family. My family wouldn’t necessarily get all the needs. You know, I have a special needs child and it requires a lot and if I didn’t have the money to care for her, that would be really detrimental to our family. And I’m sure a lot of therapists probably could think through that right now.
Yes, and it makes me, this question always, something I’m honestly struggling with right now in terms of thinking about money, talking about money. It’s easy for me to go to the place you just went to like, look, we need to take care of our families, we need to be able to give back to our communities. The hardest thing for me to say, or to really not get behind, because I can get behind it but the hardest message for me to put out is that also we’re allowed to take care of us and to do things that make us feel good simply because we want to feel good. We have a right to feel good ourselves. How do you think about that? Or do you feel comfortable saying, “And I also want to make this money because I would like to get a massage every other Tuesday.”
[WHITNEY] Yes. I love that you’re saying this and I’m laughing over here because my therapist helps me with it. So when I got back into the, most recent time, she was like, “Whitney, you’re not having any fun. No wonder you’re so stressed out.” Like, and I was like, “Oh, but I feel so guilty spending money on me because I have my family and all these things.” And she was like, “I want you to go shopping and go buy a pretty dress.” I was like, “Okay.” And I did, I went and bought a very expensive dress and wore it on a date and I took pictures and I told my therapist and it was kind of the beginning of me learning that it’s okay to take care of myself. And it brought me more happiness. more Joy into my life, which really penetrates into all the work we do. When we’re changed the life around us is changed.
[TIFFANY] That’s absolutely right. And it’s so interesting, I think, especially for women and probably for Christians too, although I don’t know if this is the same for men as much, but when we are asked like, “Hey, take care of you because you’re going to take care of you,” we know that inevitably that means we’re going to show up better for our friends, our family, our spouses, our clients. We’re going to show up better when we’re happy and present and engaged, but rather than talking about how we’re going to show up better, and that could be enough. We always, I mean, rather than talking about how buying that dress makes you happy, that’s enough, I think for consultants or coaches, it’s so much easier for us to go to how the benefits are going to spread far and wide. And it’s so much easier for women to accept. Okay, if I take care of myself, then that means I’m going to take care of people better. So let me take care of myself for them. It’s always, we’re so quick to go to how caring for ourselves means we’ll get to show up better for others. And it’s true, but it’s also interesting that it’s so uncomfortable for us to simply sit and, “I’m going to get that dress and go on that date because it makes me feel good.”
[WHITNEY] That’s right. She also was like, “You need to just go to a coffee shop and order a latte sometimes.”
[TIFFANY] Wait a minute, Whitney. You definitely need to do that. If you’re not doing that regularly, come on.
[WHITNEY] I did. I did, as she told me. I walked down to the coffee shop, not wanting to because I wanted to keep working and I was like, “Okay, I’ll get a latte and a little brownie.” And I was like, “Okay, I can do this.” Then I’m intentionally living a more fun life.”
[TIFFANY] Yes. How did it, how does it, when you bought that dress or when you said, “I’m leaving my office to get that latte and brownie,” what did you notice come up for you in those little acts of luxury?
[WHITNEY] Oh, this is funny. So I’m actually a huge Enneagram fan. Are you familiar with the Enneagram?
[TIFFANY] I know about it. I’m not super familiar, but I know of it.
[WHITNEY] Well, if you get a time, please look into it. And so I’m an Enneagram one, which is the perfectionist, but perfectionists tend to not have a lot of fun because we’re so obsessed with perfection. And so that was part of the therapy, was engaging in the enthusiastic, which is where a one moves to when they’re in the healthy place. So how did I feel when I got the dress? I felt good. I really liked the dress. In fact, and I was just looking at it the other day in my closet. So it’s like, COVID, I haven’t gone anywhere fun. I’ve worn it once I think in the past year. But when I went and bought the brownie and the latte, it was really difficult for me because it’s so unlike me. It’s kind of like when we start new habits. New habits are so hard, but if we don’t integrate that into our lives, then we’re not going to find freedom.
Like if I keep sitting in this need for perfection, I’m never going to have fun. And so as time has passed and I’m intentionally buying things or intentionally indulging, I guess you would say, I’m becoming, that’s becoming more a part of me and I’m less stressed out. Makes sense?
[TIFFANY] Oh yes, and I love that the outcome is that you’re less stressed out. Like it could have been, “I’m a perfectionist, I got to do this.” And then you get stressed and you buy the brownie and the latte because maybe, but what you’re actually saying is you feel less stressed when you do allow yourself to indulge. And I think man, even the practice of taking the risk to do it and then making it more consistent, that must allow you to show up differently in your clinical work. And I think the same can be said of charging higher fees, having conversations with our clients about money, looking at the relational dynamics around money and how they’re playing out in our clinical work. The more we can be disciplined about pushing ourselves to take risks or go into areas that we’re afraid of on the other side is relief and more freedom.
Yes. So this has been a great discussion and I definitely want to give you some options to share with us some tips about how to raise our rates, you know making 30 to 50% more sounds nice.
[WHITNEY] Oh sure. Okay. So first, I talk about this a lot, so I’m like, “Oh, what are my actual steps?” There are strategic steps. The first one is to get clear about the reality of your financial situation, both your current needs and your wants. So we created actually a, we have something called a Fun with Fees calculator that is free and you go through this calculator, we walk you through and you just type in your current budget. So that’s things like your PGNE bill or whatever, your electric bill, your car payment, like the things you have to pay that also hopefully includes your clinical consultation that you’re getting in an ongoing way, the trainings that you’re participating in to become a better clinician. So all those things go into your bill section.
And then we also have a part, and this is where we were just talking about with you, the luxury thing part, the wants part. So if I actually have the life I want, maybe I’m taking violin lessons, maybe I’m traveling, taking a weekend off every quarter and traveling, maybe I’m taking a huge trip once a year and traveling abroad. What are the things that if you have these things in your life, whoa, weekly massages, you would really feel like, “Man, I’m taking care of myself. I feel good. I’m showing up.” So we also include that part in this calculator. And then we also, this is key, we also want to know, and you put these numbers in how many days a week do you want to work, how many hours a day and how many weeks a year?
Because you can earn six figures in private practice if you’re seeing 40 people a week and working 52 weeks a year. Oh, that’s not very difficult. But if you’re really saying like, “Maybe I do my best when I see three clients a day and work four days a week.” Wow. What would that be like? Well, how do we, what do we really, how much do we need to work to really be showing up and doing our best clinical work? So then it takes all this information, spits out a number. So often when people get this number, if they’re being honest with their dreams, like if you’re scrimping and saving, you’re still going to get a low rate. But if you put it in your real desires and your real work schedule, people might get a number like $200 per session.
So the first part is get real about your needs and wants, that’s step one. Step two, all the fields, when you make this, when you go through this process and actually see the number you’re going to have a lot of feelings, anxiety, guilt, insecurity, shame, disbelief. So the second part of the process is allowing for the feelings to be there. Don’t push them away, don’t fight with them, don’t argue with them, just sit with, “Hey, if I’m really going to have a life where I show up, this is the reality of the number that I need to be charging to get that life and then here are the feelings that come with that.” And there are more steps which I can go into, but let me give you some space there.
[WHITNEY] That was good. I love it. Yes, I love having the steps and I love how you just spoke to that idea that all the emotions are okay. I mean, we tell our clients that all the time, but then as therapists, sometimes we feel like we can’t feel these feelings or I shouldn’t feel those feelings and we push them away. So that acceptance piece is so key.
[TIFFANY] Yes, and it’s really, something really interesting happens on the other side of this. When we start thinking about the feelings related to our fees, not as fact, but as symbolic and unconscious communications about both our experience of the world, but also something happening relationally with our clients. So if we start shifting from thinking about fees, raising fees or charging more, if we shift away from thinking about that as something that hurts our clients, and that makes us greedy and selfish, and instead start thinking clinically, like, “Wait a minute, what does it mean that I actually need $150 per session to live, but this person has been paying me $40 in session?
What are we communicating about our relationship, about dependence, about need, about responsibility? How might I be colluding with this client to avoid looking at certain aspects of their financial situation, loss grief?” When we move away from the binary of raising fees is bad, and to start really looking at the nuances and complexities about the relational communications in therapy and how these are likely playing out, inevitably playing out in the client’s life and other areas, it really opens up a rich discussion in therapy and an expansive place by which to understand the unconscious symbolic communications around money and what it means in our lives.
[WHITNEY] That’s so true. I love that you bring the psychology in there on that part and, yes, we need to take a moment and think through that for sure.
[TIFFANY] Yes, certainly.
[WHITNEY] Yes, so what other steps do you have there?
[TIFFANY] So once you know what you need to be charging, once you make a little room for the feelings, and we can even say a lot of room for feelings, then you actually have to start making the change. You look at your practice and say like, “What is the chasm between what I actually need to be charging, to be showing up, having a life that I enjoy, that’s giving me time, freedom and flexibility to actually be a good parent, to be a good mom, to be a good friend?” What’s the end, let me be clear, a good clinician too, because if you’re burnt out and overwhelmed and stressed out you’re not actually able to show up and really help your clients make change. You’re missing something in the therapy.
So then you say, “Okay, what’s the difference between where I am and where I want to be?” And then this is the part that’s difficult for therapists, but the reality is you need to take action. And that action is starting to go in and have those conversations with your clients and raising your fees. That’s it.
[WHITNEY] Yes. It’s simple, but full of emotion.
[WHITNEY] Yes. And you know what, like, people always will say to me, I’m sure you hear this, “If I raise my fees, then people will stop coming to see me.”
[TIFFANY] What do you think about that? Yes, what do you think?
[WHITNEY] It doesn’t work. People are going to keep coming. Like, what’s funny about this is eventually as therapists, we get really full and we’re tired and we need to decrease our caseload. So one of those ways is to increase your fees. So I increased my fees and they keep coming when I think that they’re going to stop. So I tell that to the therapists, I’m like, “Yes, you think that’s what’s going to happen, but wait until you do it and you see that all your clients, some of them will even say. I’m surprised you haven’t done that yet.”
[TIFFANY] Yes. That’s right.
[WHITNEY] I mean, yes, when you coach people and you see them raise their rates, has someone ever come back to you and be like, “I have just lost half of my caseload because you told me to raise my rates? Has that ever happened?
[TIFFANY] Well, let me be clear. We have people, I think there’s a big difference and different responses if we’re raising our fee by $15 or $20, versus if we’re saying my fee is going up by 50 or $100 dollars.
[WHITNEY] That’s true.
[TIFFANY] There’s a difference and what happens, there are some clients who literally, they cannot make that fee jump, or they may say, “Why would I do that? They may have the money. I have certainly had therapists who have wealthy clients who are not willing to pay them more and so there’s so much dynamically happening there. So here’s an example, respecting client confidentiality, so I’m going to change the details here, but an example of a situation where a therapist says to a client who who’s very successful, very empowered, very on top of their game in their professional life and have a lot of money. The therapist raises the fee and the client just gets so angry. “Wow, who do you think you are?” Like these more passive, aggressive comments, not overtly, but like, “Wow. What’s your degree again? Like really, that’s what you think you can charge out in this market?’ These kinds of responses.
It turns out through the work of, this was someone in our program through the work of hanging in and looking at the unconscious communications. It turns out that this patient is somebody who was taught they had to either choose money or happiness, intimate relationships, or your profession. And so when they saw this therapist who said, “Not only am I going to do work I love, but I’m also going to get paid for it,” it brought up envy, loss, regret, remorse, like, “Wow. I thought that I had to play this game where I could make money at the expense of all of these other parts of my life. And here I am now sitting across from this therapist who was demonstrating a modeling, no I’m going to do both.”
So really brought up rich clinical and dynamic work. And this client, this patient hung in and continued to do the work of therapy, but there are clients for whom part of what they’re paying for in therapy is to have a belief maintained or to have a dependent relationship maintained. So when the therapist says, I’m not doing this anymore or I’m growing myself, some clients, even if they have the financial means to do it cannot or will not tolerate what that brings up in themselves, loss, grief, envy, and remorse.
[WHITNEY] Thank you for sharing that story. That was powerful. Gosh, that raising rates and the clinical piece, I mean, I was just telling somebody the other day everything’s clinical, like everything the client brings to the table. And so rates more than anything in the ways, we were just talking in the beginning, the way we were raised to think about money. At least in our practice, we do some faith-based counseling so we get a lot of people that are in churches and having to educate them about money.
[TIFFANY] Yes. That’s exactly right.
[WHITNEY] Yes. Gosh. Well, this has been such good conversation. Is there anything that we didn’t hit on that you wanted to make sure to address or questions you have?
[TIFFANY] This has been very rich. I think all of these things can be peeled back for hours and I think we can give folks a lot to even start thinking about, which is what is the reality, setting your fees based on what do I need and want to really show up in the world and do my best when I’m happy? Like if we could all, I don’t actually know these people personally, but if we could all, I think, especially a lot of Christian practitioners give endlessly, take nothing for ourselves and be fully happy and present in the world. I think a lot of Christians would choose that option, but the reality is we have needs and desires and wants. And if we’re giving endlessly a lot of us, whether we want to or not feel resentful on some level.
And so really what do you need to charge so you actually are showing up without resentment and when you’re present and when your client says, “I went on this date night or went on this amazing vacation,” you feel good for them because you’re also living a rich life yourself. So you can be happy for your client’s gains. So getting clear about what that number is first, and then starting to make those changes in your practice with your eye, to the clinical implications and the clinical communications around money, both in your own life and experience and your client’s life and experience. Because if you’re not, if you are avoiding money and not really looking at what you need to show up, I guarantee you you’re missing things in the clinical work and you are inhibiting your client’s growth.
[WHITNEY] Hmm. That’s a good word. You know, we were talking about Mike Michalowicz at the beginning and he said something on my podcast that really resonated with me that I think is good to say here. He said, “When we don’t raise our rates and we’re sitting in that therapist chair, we feel anxious because we’re not making enough money. So we’re thinking I got to get that next phone call, I got to get another client because I need that.” So you actually do a service to your client by raising your rates because you’re more present with them.
[TIFFANY] That is a hundred percent, absolutely correct. I have seen that over and over again with the therapists we work with.
[WHITNEY] Well, and another quote I wanted to share with you here, John Wesley, he’s the founder of Methodism, he actually was here in Savannah for a time and his quote that he had to say about money was, “Earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”
[TIFFANY] That is amazing. I love it because it’s, again, it’s busting up the myth that you can only do one thing or the other. He’s saying you can do it all and you have the capacity to do it all, get rid of this binary scarcity, zero sum game thing. I love that quote.
[WHITNEY] Yes, I take that one to heart. So Tiffany, I’m going to ask you what I ask everyone that comes on the show. What do you believe? Every Christian counselor needs to know?
[TIFFANY] This is a tough one because I hate, I have a hard time saying, “Here’s what God wants or here’s what Jesus wants.” But if I were to say in truth, something that God wants or something that Jesus wants, He wants us to experience joy and fulfillment. I don’t think that God wants us to be afraid, desperate, anxious. I don’t think He wants that for us. So really to everybody out there listening, He wants you to experience freedom and emotional joy and wellbeing and creativity in your life. So take the actions and do the steps that bring you to that place. That would be my message.
[WHITNEY] Thank you. That’s so great. Well, it’s been a pleasure talking with you today. I’ve had a lot of fun and hope to connect again in the future.
[TIFFANY] Thank you for having me on the show.
[WHITNEY] Once again, thank you so much to Therapy Notes for sponsoring the show. It makes notes, billing, scheduling, and tele-health a whole lot easier. And if you’re coming from another EHR, they make the transition really easy. Therapy Notes will import your client’s demographic data free of charge during your trials so that you can get going right away. Use promo code [JOE] to get three months to try out Therapy Notes for free.
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