This question is often asked in the minds of therapists but rarely answered. The answer is YES!
Work through this with me.
There are 5 elements to being a professional therapist or coach.
Since you're reading this, you most likely have done some training in a therapy or are currently training. Congratulations on that. It's a wonderful thing to meet people who have decided to help others and who back that up with action by growing their skills! Go you.
Most people think they are a therapist when they get their qualification. I think we're therapists when we're helping people. Far too many people qualify and never start. If you'd written a book but never been published would you describe yourself as an author?
I want to see you really being a therapist, a professional one. This requires the next few points to be implemented.
2. We have to put ourselves out there.
No one can ask for your help if they don't know you exist or if they don't understand what you can help with.
Yes, this can be tough.
More thoughts like this will run through our heads as we get ready to start helping people. Some people will actually be stopped by the worry or fear around this.
Your desire to help others has to be greater than your fear.
It has to mean more to us to help people change and grow, than to let our fear hold us back!
If we need to address, reduce, and resolve our own fears as part of our process of growth, then so be it.
3. Next, we have to have a place to work from.
There are more options than we usually realise. I've seen people be successful working from:
A room at home
An office in the garden
A hotel room
A doctor's office
A Therapy Centre
Their own office
Sharing an office with other therapists
Visiting clients in their workplace
Hourly rates for a room in a centre typically range from $10/€10/£10 to $40/€40/£40 an hour. Interestingly the numbers seem the same in most countries where my coaching clients are.
A bit of searching will often find an easy option. Many therapists have a day when they don't use their own office. Maybe find someone doing a different thing to you and see if you could rent their room on a day they're not using it. A Physical therapist using a Nutritionist's room one day a week is a typical arrangement I often see.
4. We need to see the client.
You'd be amazed how many people are overwhelmed by fear at this stage.
I see a lot of therapists as clients in my psychological practice. A lot of nervous, shy, anxious therapists are very worried when they are expecting a client to come in. The reality is that most of us in our first 100 hours of work or so feel this way, not just the anxious ones.
It's OK to be excited/a bit nervous, it's OK for this to be a growth for us as well as for our client. We have skills, we can help. The client is probably a lot more nervous. Just yesterday a client of mine almost had a panic attack simply walking down the corridor to meet me for the first time (yes, I know 🙂 I'm scary ). But it happens a lot. One client described my door as 'the hardest to get through in the country'.
There can be some fear from both sides. But we must see the client, be there on time, and be with them through the session, not just in body, but giving them our attention, focus, and help.
Isn't this what you spent all that time and money training for? Isn't this the whole point of truly being 'a therapist'?
5. We now need to charge a rate for our work.
Feeling uncomfortable? You'd be stunned how many people feel this way at this point.
There are two basic points in my opinion:
A. What is the value of our work?
B. What is the alternative if we don't let ourselves earn a living?
My outlook is that the bottom line = if we do this full time, we help more people every single week. If I have to get a job just for money to pay my mortgage/rent/etc. Then I'd only help a few people part time.
The result in that case is less people get help.
So, our price needs to allow us to be professional. When we're earning a living we can always decide to take on a charity case at a lower price or for free, in a way we can't when we're struggling. It can be win/win/win for all involved.
So, let's assume we've decided to build our practice into a full time income.
How many clients a week is sustainable for you?
This shouldn't be in relation to money at this stage. Just how many people can you help a week without burning out, exhausting your energy, or feeling stressed or overwhelmed. This has to be sustainable.
Now multiply that number by how many weeks you want to work. I recommend 46 as a good number to allow for four weeks off a year plus two more that could cover any sick time, or unexpectedly days off (weddings, funerals for example) etc.
At this point you have a number of sessions a year that should be sustainable to do. Filling them is a different step 🙂 First we need to be clear on what is our sustainable goal.
So to take one example: one of my Coaching program clients at the moment is happy to do 15 sessions a week for 46 weeks so that's 675 sessions a year.
What this means is she has to create a pricing that allows 675 sessions to deliver a living income.
According to the American Census Bureau, the average wage in America is about $51,000
The UK Office for National Statistics puts the average UK wage as £26,500
In Ireland it's about €36,100
So to earn the average wage in each country if you're doing 675 sessions a year (that's 15 a week) would work out at:
So, decide what income you need in order to be professional about your help.
Add 15% to cover no-shows & business expenses if you don't know how much they average.
Divide that number by the number of sessions a year you can do without stressing out.
That's your minimum fee. Less than that and you need to do something different to earn that living wage you need to support your family.
As you can see the numbers aren't huge.
And that is the arrangement for my coaching client working 15 hours a week. Different combinations include: 3 clients a day for 5 days or 5 clients a day and a 3 day week.
If you see clients multiple times then you don't need to find that many clients. Massage therapists, business coaches, counsellors etc. would often see clients 2+ times a month
Some therapists see people weekly through the year.
That Coaching Client of mine sees a client on average 6 times. So that's 675 divided by 6 = number of people a year to reach as clients. That's 112.5 people a year.
That equals less than 3 people a week over those 46 weeks a year she works. Could you find 3 people a week who need your help? That's a much easier ask, once you break it down.
This is what your marketing plan should be aiming for.
But yes, it is possible to earn a living helping people and when you do, you get to have a better life, and you get to help more people too!
I hope your desire to help allows you to earn a living income, to overcome any fear that may be there, and to help a great many people improve their lives with your help.
Please keep sharing your help.
Feel free to leave a comment or question below. If you find this interesting please feel free to share it with your friends or anyone who you think might find it of value.
Have a great week,
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John Prendergast is an award-winning Success Coach and and Psycho-Trauma Anxiety Therapist.
He is also the Founder of Therapy and Coaching Success that specialises in helping Therapists, Coaches and other Wellness Practitioners, connect with those in need, build their diaries and earn the income they need.
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