Today we start a new chapter and theme on this blog – being a Practitioner.
I’d like to thank everyone who has given feedback on where you’d like us to go with the blog by contacting us or leaving a comment here.
This blog is about more than just RPT theory and self-help. It’s about being a successful and effective practitioner. A lot of our readers are coaches, consultants and healing practitioners. It doesn’t matter if you have the most effective instant healing technique, there’s still a LOT more that’s involved in (a) helping people and (b) making a business of it. I’ve had to figure a lot of this out the hard way, and I want to share solutions with you.
Today I want to start with one of the biggest topic in healing – charging money for sessions. I know a lot of you have struggled with that. Today I will cover how and when to collect payments for your work. I offer you my solution which completely eliminates money dramas from healing work.
For those that read today’s blog there’s a free gift at the end – the client form and contract we use that eliminates most if not all of the money issues practitioners face.
Dramas I’ve seen
I could fill pages with the dramas I’ve seen about paying for sessions.
The most inconvenient problems involve people cancelling at the last minute, leaving you out of time to fit someone else in, and therefore out of pocket. More rarely you may experience problems where people don’t or simply cannot pay the agreed rate for a session. In these cases the real problem is that these issues weren’t discussed and avoided well before the time of the session.
Perhaps the “cheekiest” trick I’ve seen is a client who came to see one of our practitioners for a healing. He knew the price in advance. After the healing instead of giving the cash he offered an exchange of services (healing initiations). Our practitioner was both too shocked and too uncertain of her boundaries to refuse. As there was no way she would accept his initiation she ended up not being paid for the session. This was ultimately an issue of her poor boundaries, and would have been prevented by a clearer energy around payment.
A common issue for practitioners is last minute cancellations or rescheduling. My impression is that often clients just don’t realize that a practitioner has limited time and may have a waiting list. Postponing a session at the last minute is not OK – you might have had a waiting list for that spot. You might also have been depending on that session to pay your week’s rent. The solution to this is to be clear that your client sessions are not informally booked. They are fixed slots like a dentist or hairdresser (etc).
Part of the problem is setting clear boundaries before the session. But even when the boundaries are clear, there’s a strange energy that occurs when the payment occurs after the session has begun. For example, I once had a client who decided about 20 minutes into the session that he wasn’t ready to heal that day. That’s his divine right, however we had agreed on a fixed price for 90 minutes. From my point of view, he bought that time, whether he uses it or not. From his point of view he used 20 minutes and need only pay for 20 minutes. Invariably it is not worth arguing the point. (He did come back 3 months later when he was ready and did fantastic.)
There’s another factor which is really hard to pin down in words. When you are doing a session that has not been pre-paid there is this slight nagging fear or stress at the back of your mind like “will I be good enough?,” “will they see their money’s worth immediately – at the time of payment?” etc. These fears are normal but they interfere with your performance. It’s best to avoid this internal drama.
Rather than list pages of dramas I’ve seen and experienced, I’ll summarize by saying this:
All the dramas I’ve seen could be avoided by collecting payment and setting boundaries before the session even starts. This is to your client’s benefit as much as your own.
I’ll now go through some of the issues in detail before explaining my solution.
Spiritual / Ethical issues
Today’s blog is about the practical side of charging money for healings. Not the spiritual or ethical. That said I have to acknowledge the spiritual / ethical because it confuses lots of people (and has been a source of “hate mail” for us!).
I know that lots of people around the world – especially “spiritual healers” – have trouble charging money for healings. I received an email last year from a website reader who wrote “How dare you charge so much money for a healing when God/Creator does the work?” This is a common misconception dating back to an ancient time when healers were outcasts and did not receive payment for their services.
Practitioners doing spiritual work usually take the line “I charge for my time not the healing”. In today’s society, being a healing practitioner is an honorable profession, and practitioners are no less justified in charging for their time than doctors or any other service providers.
As a Reference Point Therapy practitioner, I am not a spiritual healer. We therefore do not have any spiritual or ethical conflict. My reply to the website reader was therefore easy: “I make no claim of invisible friends doing the work. If you want to book a session with me you will get 100% of my Beingness offering you guaranteed results. My presence, the training I have had, my success rate and the guarantee are all reflected in my fee.”
I know that in one session with me people clear issues for which they have spent more than 10 years in counseling. I’ve had more than one client clear an issue in one session for which they have spent more than $50,000 of healing/ counseling / medical bills! So as I said, I have no ethical issue with what I charge. I know that I am saving my clients thousands of dollars and years’ of frustration. (In one of my next posts I will deal with the issue of what you should charge and how to communicate your “value” or worth to the client.)
Practical issues – asking for money
Most practitioners have a certain discomfort asking for money at the end of a session. This is not limited to healing. I’ve witnessed photographers, wedding celebrants, consultants, gardeners, mechanics and just about every other profession have trouble asking for payment for a job well done.
How do other professions manage it? Well the best method is to have someone else handle it for you. This totally removes the problem. Think about your last visit to a doctor, dentists, psychologists or lawyer (etc). They don’t handle the money themselves; they hire someone to handle it. Most therapists though, unless you work in a clinic, don’t have the option of hiring someone to do it for you.
Therefore, my best solution is to sort the payment out before the session. Always and no excuses.
I can guarantee you that the only difficult clients, the ones who will cause all your problems, are the ones who for some reason cannot make the payment in advance. With these clients you have to make a choice – basically you should either see them for free as a charity, or refuse them altogether. If they can’t pay you upfront then the time and money you will spend chasing them far outweighs what it’s worth to try to charge them.
(This might sound harsh to some but it’s just an application of the most important business rule – the Pareto’s 80/20 principle - 20% of your clients will cause you 80% of your stress. Eliminating them improves your quality of live 1,000 times at minimal cost. For more info on Pareto refer here. For more general business management ideas including this, refer here.)
I cannot tell you how much this one piece of advice has improved not only my job but my relationship with my clients.
I avoided this good advice for many years because, like many therapists, I was running a largely cash business. I know that most practitioners prefer cash, but all I can tell you is “it’s not worth it”. The benefits of receiving cash, such as avoiding ridiculous bank merchant fees, do not outweigh the costs. Also tax evasion is illegal (I am not making a moral comment only a legal one).
The benefits of receiving payment before the session (and not cash after it) are:
- You will eliminate last minute cancellations. Pre-payment combined with a clear cancellation policy results in a very clear respect for your time. You will no longer get “no-shows”. This one benefit alone outweighs all the benefits of running a cash business.
- You don’t need to feel uncomfortable discussing money with your client during the session. Therapy time is for therapy. You can keep the energy completely straight and therapy related. Handle money issues before the session, preferably by email.
- People can’t suggest an exchange after the session has taken plane. (There’s nothing wrong with doing an exchange, but it does have to be agreed in advance.)
- Combined with a clear cancellation policy, people will know that they cannot reschedule at the last minute. It’s amazing how people will move mountains to make it on time to a session that they have paid for!
Your commitment to yourself
If you are a practitioner, you owe a commitment to yourself to value your time and energy. Setting clear boundaries is the number one rule in this job.
Even though I have been doing this job for years, I still make mistakes. This blog post was in fact inspired by yesterday’s error. I had a client cancel last minute and I realized that despite multiple emails to clarify what she wanted to work on, I had never sent her my own client booking and policy form. Failure to follow my own procedures meant that the cancellation was really my own fault. It wasn’t the client disrespecting me, it was me disrespecting my own worth. In fact, by allowing the client to “wriggle out” of the session, it could be argued that I failed her as much as myself.
Yes, I’m still learning, and you can all learn from my mistakes.
So – practitioners – set your boundaries with these simple steps and eliminate money dramas instantly:
- set your fee for a session and stick to it (more on this in my next blog);
- have a clear policy for donations or charity – it has to have a limit, like one session in 10 or one hour per week for which you donate your time. It’s not the number that matters it’s the energy of keeping yourself to this;
- tell all your clients that payment must be handled in advance and explain why – it’s part of their own commitment to their own healing; and
- send your client the new client questionnaire which contains in writing your cancellation policy. If they don’t have email, post it to them.
As a thank you for supporting this blog I’d like to give you something very valuable indeed – it’s my new client questionnaire. Evette and I have been developing and refining this over a 2 year period. It’s not perfect but it works. I’m gifting this to you as a Word document with no copyright. Use it, change it, put your name on it, distribute it, you can do anything except sell it for money.
Click here for the questionnaire (it’s Australian English A4 document, so Americans will need to reformat it).
This is very much a discussion topic, I will very much value you comments, questions and suggestions for future topics.
Please leave comments here with any requests for practitioner issues you’d like me to cover. My list for my next blog on this topic already includes:
- how to clarify issues before the session;
- your contract with the client;
- results based versus time based pricing;
- how much to charge; and
- donating sessions to charity.