Thursday, August 23, 2007

It is not cheap

Sometimes I really feel bad charging people for my services, even though for many it becomes like that credit card commercial - changing your habits - priceless.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, we all have to make a living, but sometimes I wish I did not.

This is pretty much how I felt when I began my practice. At the time, like many newbies, I was warned not to "do it" for free, otherwise I would not be taken seriously. The idea that a client has to invest something in the process is pretty important, they said.

I think this may very well be true. It is like any business. If you give it away, you can easily be taken advantage of and people will not value it. It is easy to forget this though, as we help people overcome "themselves." There can be impassioned moments of empathy and the idea of helping someone can be almost intoxicating.

But, probably like many of you, I have learned that what we do is a valuable service. I have done some volunteer work and for these clients, they are the ones who miss appointments without canceling or want you to be on their schedule. This is really odd, but I hear about this behavior a lot, even in other professions.

I also have a tendency to fall for the poverty routine. However, I have begun to pay attention to those who are the first to cry poverty. Notoriously they are the ones driving expensive cars, living in MacMansions, and sending their children to private schools. Of course they are poor, but they are poor from making expensive choices. The ones who are laid off or are in more dire straights have never cried poverty to me, interestingly enough.

I babble about this because I think there are those of you out there who have similar feelings, but you know, we are so worth the cost. We hear that a lot, especially in journal articles and conferences. It is one thing to hear it and another to experience it. It has taken me a few years, but everyone occasionally wants something for free. It should not be us.

And yes, I have a poverty client I am seeing today. He just got a brand new mini-Coop.


kathryn said...

This is really interesting and something I completely relate to. At the beginning you feel your new-ness and inexperience. It's hard to ask people for money.

When I started out as a nutritionist I ignored all the advice and set my fees way too low, believing as a newbie, I just couldn't be worth that much.

Since then I've learnt a few lessons. Most importantly, that I am worth that much. I do discounts, but NEVER, ever work for free. I don't advertise that I do discounts, instead I base it on my assessment of the client in front of me. You are right, the clients who can barely afford your service are the ones who never ask about a discount.

With my poorer clients, I also often don't give them a discount, but instead do more phone and email consulting (which I don't charge for), or run shorter sessions. Which means they're paying less.

It's a hard balance to strike though.

The Transparent Hypnotist said...

Thanks, Karen! I like how you handle the poorer clients. That seems like a good solution, but I can see it would take some diligence to keep it balanced.

My partner has a great quote about poverty (a friend of his said it): I am not poor, I just do not have any money.