Money in the Therapeutic Relationship

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Why do many therapists experience a reluctance to charge for their work?

I was asked this question recently and having given it some thought, I wrote the following piece. Although set in the therapeutic environment, it is very relevant for anyone who charges a fee for services.

Generally speaking, therapists respond to a call to be a healer. This call may be clear and unequivocal or it may be heard quietly and responded to incrementally. No matter how we come to be therapists, the desire to make a difference and to be a healing influence is an expression of something deep within us. It can feel like a sacred gift.

For many therapists, this sense of sacredness can result in some discomfort when putting a monetary value on our work in order to charge our clients. This arises in part because when we enter the monetary realm, we appear to be operating in a world of buying and selling, and we are selling something which is not material, we are selling our services. Reducing our sacred work to a transactional basis by charging money is hugely challenging. This is likely to be compounded by our personal experiences of money, which may have been traumatic in our early years, and our intrinsic sense of worth.

What if we were to reframe this money dilemma in terms of exchange rather than as buying/selling?

Healthy relationships are based on fair exchange. For the therapeutic relationship to be healthy, the exchange needs to be fair and honourable to both parties. This exchange is multi-faceted and the payment of money is just one facet which we are looking at here.

So, let’s look at what happens in the therapeutic space.

As a therapist, you create a space where healing can occur. When you welcome a client into this space, you are focussing on their needs so that they can get the best outcome possible. This is your part of the exchange.

By charging a fee, you are using the medium of money to enable the client to support you in holding the space for them. Without this support, you would have to do something else to generate enough money to look after yourself and so you would not be available to them for this healing work. The willingness of the client to support you like this is the client’s part of the exchange.

It is important that the exchange is completed. Not completing the exchange is like leaving a circuit of energy open, resulting in a leakage of energy.

When we reframe payment in these terms, we recognise that the true intention of the therapeutic relationship is to be in a partnership of healing in which both parties participate with fairness and honour. Money facilitates this partnership by being a conduit for the client to support you so that you can create the space for him or her and for healing to occur.

How do we know what is a fair and honourable exchange for both parties?

Knowing what is fair and honourable requires us to firstly know our own needs and our own sense of value as we become more and more connected to our inner spirit which guides us in our work. As we learn about ourselves, we can then start to value others from an empowered place.

Conscious Finance invites us on a journey of exploration so that we can learn about what really is of value to us and how we can take our rightful place in the world. It asks us to look at money through 3 different lenses, though they are interdependent and synergistic in their effects:-

  • Money as a mirror of relationship – examining our unconscious money story by observing how we behave when engaging with money and how we unconsciously make value judgements about anything and everything.
  • Money as a Sacred Ally – moving from being possessed by money to being the possessor of money to being the steward of money in a way that helps us to uncover and align with our true nature and purpose.
  • Money as a facilitator of fair exchange – recognising the purpose of business as a way of meeting our needs through fair and honourable exchange, with and without money, while enhancing life for all and doing no harm.

This journey starts where we are, because that is the only place we can start. As we progress along the path, we lift our gaze towards a wider horizon. Then, to use the words of Jeff Vander Clute, we can perceive that ‘money is a powerful teacher and an awakener of collective consciousness, wisdom, and capacities that can heal humanity and the planet.’ https://jeffvanderclute.com/articles/money-is-alive-and-well/

So, when it comes to charging for our work, we may start with a fixed set of prices, guided by what are effectively ‘market rates’. We gradually develop a capacity to listen to our inner guidance and to our clients and trust that fair exchange will emerge naturally. This may be expressed in a variety of ways, including exchange without money, payment by donation or a very clear fee which is not negotiable. What matters is that the exchange is set from a place of knowing and of care, not from fear or scarcity.

How can this work help to create the more beautiful world we know is possible?

As we learn to perceive a deeper meaning of money in our lives, we can expand our place in the world and become more powerful agents of healing. Our changing relationship with money will also change our relationship with our clients, bringing greater wisdom to both sides of the exchange.

We can recognise that the true purpose of business is for us, as Humanity, to satisfy our needs through fair exchange while enhancing life for All and doing no harm. With this vision for business, there is a space for the therapeutic relationship to enter into, bringing with it the compassion, the healing and the nurturing that is so required for all of us to thrive.

This will have ripple effects which will help an understanding of money, economy and exchange to emerge which is more beautiful and life-sustaining than our current paradigm. Business becomes the force for good as envisioned by the Conscious Business Declaration

We will come to know that Conscious Finance perceives the immeasurable beauty of life in all exchanges, particularly those which involve money. When we practice Conscious Finance, we strengthen our relationships, we deepen our trust and we align more fully with Life. Then, we create generosity and prosperity for all.

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