We really seem to be conditioned to be uncomfortable around the money side of what we do. I certainly was when I began.
Some of it is obvious – we love helping people and that's more important than money. Sure, I get that. We're carers, helpers, and givers.
But for some reason we seem to be out of balance on that particular issue. We give, give, give, and so often end up struggling at the end of it.
It's really odd, as most coaches and therapists are very clear when giving help to clients, that those clients need to balance their time/energy or they will burn-out and not be able to take care of the people who matter in life.
It's heartbreaking to see so many therapists struggling. Struggling to pay the mortgage or rent, struggling to maintain their CPD requirements, and to train to be a better therapist.
The bottom line seems to be that we're programmed to think we must keep out of balance in this.
We keep saying it's not about money, but then we make it about money. It's us, the therapists, who do this far more than the client. We second guess the client and usually decide that what they want most in life is cheapness rather than the help or the value we can deliver.
When we're struggling for money, we assume everyone is in the same boat. They're not. I used to worry and guess that I needed to give discounts and lower prices for people – and often I found out in the course of therapy, that the client had no money worries.
Turns out I'm not a mind reader. Yet we think we are.
It's not about the money, it's about helping.
Yet when we look at doing a course to help us deliver a new therapy, or more or better help, we usually think about the money more than anything, because we've left ourselves in a situation where we're struggling for to have any. As one therapist said recently 'I'd love to do your training to reach more clients but I can't afford it, which only goes to show I need it.' Lots of areas of life are touched by money, and we need to acknowledge that so we can build balance.
My plumber makes a living. What he does helps people. Yet he can support his family, pay his mortgage and take 2 holidays a year. No one begrudges him that. So why do we decide we're not worth that? Why are therapists not to be valued?
It's not about the money. It's about fairness in an unfair world.
We'd all like help to be free, but that's a far cry from the helper going hungry. For a doctor seeing a client through welfare they don't charge the client, but they still get paid. I've yet to meet a client who begrudged their therapist a living.
If you're considering these issues, here are three questions to help you find an understanding that helps create balance for you and your client:
What have you or your friends spent more on than a course of therapy?
Perhaps a weekend away or a holiday, maybe a laptop, or a sofa?
What gives greater value? the work for change and a better life, or a holiday or other expensive thing?
And before you say it... ever hear of someone having a miserable holiday? Or got a laptop that wasn't what they hoped it would be? We spend on the potential, on the chance, on the opportunity. No one gets a guarantee of happiness when they buy a holiday. That's up to the individual to enjoy themselves, just as it's up to the individual to take the opportunity for change in therapy or coaching.
If you don't balance the energy of therapy as a two-way street, will you still be helping as many people in a year, three years, or ten years? or will you have had to get a job to pay the bills rather than keep helping others full time?
I firmly believe we need to be about the help and the value that we can deliver first and foremost. We should let it be up to the client to raise any issue about money if they have one, but we typically anticipate this and make an issue where there might not be one.
Once we're earning a living, we can afford to give back. I take on free clients through organisations that are positioned to know when someone needs my help and can't afford it. I can do this because I know I can pay the mortgage, feed my family, and so on.
This can be a win-win for all. Find balance, be fair to yourself as well as your client, and be sustainable – helping more people every month as long as you want to do this. That's a lot more people finding help when you do.
Please keep sharing your help.
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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