Counseling is expendable. That’s what people think in an economic downturn. They stop buying designer clothes and start eating at Culver’s. They stop counseling: it’s an intangible, and it’s harder to see its value compared to buying a new kitchen stove or putting vinyl siding on your house.
If you’re a therapist and some of your clients have stopped attending appointments because they’re no longer convinced these days that it’s the best value for their dollar, there are a number of things you can do.
Start by sending out a letter saying you are lowering your rates by twenty percent. Add that you will be happy to negotiate with those who need still lower charges. Here is a sample letter — feel free to copy and amend it as you wish.
Dear Client (insert name):
I’m sending you this letter because you attended counseling with me in the past couple years and I have not heard from you for awhile. I wonder if, like many people, you’re facing severe financial situations that contribute to a decision not to seek counseling at this time. I also know that you probably need to make choices about how you’re going to use your limited resources, and it is easy to see counseling as less important than other needs.
I want to suggest that counseling, especially in stressful times, is a great value. When you attended counseling in the past, you did good work and made significant progress. I believe that you can continue to make deep and significant changes in yourself for the better. You can enjoy improved relationships, increased productivity at work, and enhanced ability to manage your reactions to life’s events — especially the worries of these tumultuous times.
I have developed a program for reducing stress and becoming more proactive in coping with these troublesome days. I’d be happy to tell you more about it. I also want to make counseling affordable for you. I am therefore decreasing my fees by twenty percent. I am willing to discuss even lower rates if necessary. I hope you’ve decided to schedule a new appointment. I look forward to seeing you.
Threrry Good Counselor (insert your name)
A couple other ideas. You might initially send this letter to 25 or 30 clients to test its effectiveness. You might also follow up with phone calls to clients who may be more likely to respond to a personal contact. Remember: these are times when waiting and hoping clients will appear at your door isn’t enough: they’re times that you need to reach out, that call for you to be proactive.