You and money are in a long-term relationship. The courtship started years ago. Perhaps you have early memories of begging for arcade coins, or taking out trash for two bucks a week. Locked up images of Mom and Dad fighting over it, Aunt Suzie slipping you some when no one was looking, or friends using it to make you feel inferior. Maybe you’re always chasing after it, worrying over it, thrilled to see it when it shows up, or have terrible guilt about accepting it. You might avoid it completely or feel oh-so-secure when it’s around. Like it or not, you – yes you – are in a relationship with money, and it directly affects your business.
Getting Your Head Clear About Money
Money is a powerful part of our world and, therefore, a big ‘ol part of our life. Whether you’ve barely got two nickels to rub together, or you’re “makin’ it rain”, money is massively important. It keeps the electricity on, buys the cars we drive in, and the roads that they drive on. Quite frankly, money allows you to live out your calling in private practice. Contrary to popular sayings, money is neither good nor evil. It’s a vehicle of energy exchange for goods and services. It’s neutral. People, not money, determine if it will be directed toward something positive or not.
As private practitioners and business owners, we need to get our heads clear about money. Working with people in very vulnerable situations can make a person feel ‘icky’ at accepting money – especially if that’s part of the reason your client is seeking help. It’s easy to see how boundaries can get fuzzy, or how the topic of payment can feel awkward (I’m a personal expert on the subject). But, as professionals, we know that it’s our job to model boundaries and healthy communication.
Don’t be weird about money. Be cool. Clean up your head and your act when it comes to this issue we face every day. You can do this. Here are some places to start.
Gratitude – Have Love and Appreciation
We all have our baggage and different experiences with money. Some not so healthy. Spend a moment thinking about your relationship with money. How’s it going? Do you push it away? Are there some negative assumptions – such as: ‘only greedy people get rich’? Like any relationship, you may need to spend some time clearing your head and communicating about how you feel and why. Perhaps some assumptions are inaccurate, or you may have old patterns of thoughts that are no longer needed. Start seeing money as a tool that helps and supports you. Be thankful for every dollar that drops into your account and every lucky penny you pick up. You’ll feel more appreciative, which as you know, is very attracting.
Get Clear On Your Why – Have Your Heart in the Right Place
Making money for the sake of making money lacks purpose and will not give you strength to keep going when things get difficult. Assuming you’re not a greedy, power-mongering sociopath, I want you to get rich. And by rich, I mean having all the money you need to be your best self and fulfil your calling as a therapist in the highest possible way. I want you to have all the riches to lift up your clients, your community, and make our world a shinier, better place. Have a deeply rooted purpose in why you do your work. Perhaps you’re called to heal families, want to put your kids in the best possible school, or desire to pay off your mother’s car loan. Whatever the reason, let it be positive, and let it extend beyond just making money. Let it be about serving others. That will give you superpower strength when things get difficult. Because, as you know, they will.
Give First – Live From an ‘Abundance’ Mindset
Operating out of fear and scarcity is the quickest way to derail the abundance train. There is plenty for everyone, no matter what your past thoughts or experiences have told you. Give every day. Give time to your grandmother by picking up the phone, or bringing her flowers. Offer your attention and play games with your kids. Give affection, give compliments, buy that paper shoe to hang up in the grocery store window that says ‘Yes! I support cancer research’. Support your schools, churches, and other local clinicians. Give, give, give. A giving heart is a happy heart. Before clients ever pay a nickel, I aim to give the the best possible experience. From help during the intake phone call, to gourmet drinks in the wait area. We give to our clients as generously as we possibly can before and during their experience with us. When clients feel over-served, they gladly give back and, even better, spread that oh-so-wonderful word of mouth referral. It is in the giving that we receive.
Look at Your Rates – Be Honest With Yourself
In our country, looking at someone in the eyes is a sign of honesty and respect. Do you avoid direct conversations about money or tippy-toe around the topic? If you feel a tug-of-war about what to charge clients, sit down and get real with yourself:
- What’s the average rate of your area?
- What’s your experience?
- What are your goals?
- How full is your schedule?
- What feels too high/low?
- How do you really feel about a sliding scale?
- Are you operating out of insecurity, fear, or scarcity?
Starting out, I lowered my price 15% below the going rate in my area to get my practice going. I accepted a sliding scale because I considered it an investment in my learning. Over time, however, I started to feel twinges of resentment at my low rates. With plenty of clients on my calendar, I decided it was time I raise my rates and stop accepting a sliding scale. Look your rates and expenses directly in the eye and be honest with yourself. It will help you to communicate more clearly, and confidently, and be more authentic.
Whether it’s a little boost, or a major relational overhaul, clearing up your head and heart when it comes to money can help you, your practice, and your pocketbook grow. Show appreciation toward money, the people who bring it to you, and how money helps to support you and those you care about. Know your bigger reasons for why you are earning money and how it serves you and others. Give generously and often, knowing that the world has more than enough abundance to support even your wildest dreams. Be honest and upfront with yourself, and others, on your rates and with what you’re willing and not willing to do.
Wishing you a year of growth, abundance and dreams running wild!
Jenna Fleming, M.Ed, LPC, NCC is owner and clinician at Georgetown Child & Family Counseling, located in the beautiful hill country of Texas. Her practice and work specializes in children, teens, young adults, and parents. Jenna is author of the Deeply Rooted Parenting program. She writes and speaks on topics for parents, educators, and counselors. When not engaged in her work, you’ll likely catch her being silly with her husband and two kids, practicing yoga, or enjoying delicious Tex-Mex.