Welcome to Part 2 of how to be a successful and effective healing practitioner.
In part 1 of Being a Healing Practitioner (March 30) we looked at how you should set boundaries to get best results for both your clients and your healing practice.
Today I will cover one of the most difficult questions that new healing practitioners face: how much should I charge?
Many of you reading this are healing clients rather than practitioners, so the question is equally valid from your point of view. Faced with a bewildering array of healing options: how much should I pay?
In my research I have never found a clear and structured answer to this problem. It’s usually a complex discussion point in our Level 3 courses. Today, for the first time on the internet (to my knowledge), I’d like to give you a structure for valuing a healing session.
I know some of you prefer to watch my videos than read my (sometimes long-winded) articles, so I’ve recorded a 7 minute video summarising the article.
Why am I so qualified to answer this question? I’m not the best or most experienced healing practitioner (though I have been doing this for nearly 7 years). My qualification to write this article is that I’ve spent so many years as a client of healing because of my medical history (I found healing after discovering a tumor in my head). Even today I receive weekly sessions from different techniques and modalities so I can keep learning.
I may also be the only healing practitioner who was also an investment banker, a corporate lawyer and (briefly) a strategic consultant to businesses on how to price their services! So I think that makes me pretty qualified to talk about how much you should be charging, or paying, for healings. (It doesn’t mean you’ll agree with my conclusions, but at least we can debate about it in the comments below!)
How much to charge for your time
Valuing your time is one of the hardest parts of any job. There is no magic answer. Today I’m going to go over some of the key issues to consider in making your decision.
For what it’s worth, I think that most of the really effective therapists significantly under-charge for their time. The funny thing is that if they charged more their clients would actually heal faster.
Now here’s the catch. For every “really effective therapist” there are 10 over-charging healers who are either charlatans or they don’t know how to give value to their clients.
So how can you set yourself apart?
Let’s start with the mistakes that therapists might make:
- charging too little – the mistake is that clients wont value what you do and will often choose a more expensive therapist;
- charging too much – you don’t want to put deserving people off receiving a healing;
- making unreasonable claims or making promises you cannot keep – this will only lead to disappointment and a bad reputation for you and your healing modality.
So what should you charge? I personally think that it depends on what you are offering. Before I tell you my views, let me acknowledge my own bias. I am a Reference Point Therapy (RPT) practitioner, not an “energy healer”. I care a lot about permanent change and I don’t value relaxation or “feel good” treatments much. My bias will come across in what I’m about to say. If that’s a problem for you (if you don’t value permanent healings over the short-term feel good) then you’re reading the wrong blog!
Simon’s pricing theory
The biggest factor in setting your price is how much difference do I make to my client’s quality of life? What is that difference worth to them?
I think that there are three different types of therapy or treatment:
- if the main focus is relaxation, the charge should reflect what people are prepared to pay to be pampered – with no expectation or promise of long term change. This includes massage, Reiki and other forms of spiritual healing. These services deserved to be valued, but the value must reflect what’s being offered (relaxation);
- if long term change is intended, but many sessions are required in order to make a permanent change, the cost per session should reflect the total cost of treatment in the long run. This includes remedial massage, body work, some energy or vibrational healing techniques, chiropractic, psychology, physiotherapy, counseling, etc. The long term cost must not exceed the actual value of the service to the client;
- if you offer clear and measurable results in the space of a single session, then your fee should reflect the value of those results to the client.
Adding value is the key
Some of you will have noticed what I’m doing here. I’m addressing healing therapy as a business. In my corporate life I’ve helped companies as diverse as Barclays Bank and Lonely Planet guide book publishers to put prices on their services. I can do the same for you.
(By the way if the idea of healing therapy as a business offends you, you are probably reading the wrong blog. Medical practice and pharmaceuticals are one of the world’s biggest industries. What we offer is a viable alternative – a small ethical business structure that puts consumers first.)
My structure is simple: if you offer relaxation therapies, you should look at what people in your area are willing to pay for pampering, whether it’s massage or beauty therapy etc.
If you are aiming to make measurable change, whether longer term (category 2) or immediate (category 3), look at what the value of that change is to your client. Make sure that the price you charge is consistent with the value of the change.
Some practitioners undercharge. Many are guilty of reckless over-charging. Those that do usually make a simple mistake – they aren’t valuing what the services they offer are actually worth to the client.
Personal anecdote: Many years ago I saw a spiritual healer in Melbourne. This was when I had an acoustic neuroma (inner ear tumor). This healer made huge claims (which turned out to be ego, not talent) and charged a lot of money. I happened to mention one day that I had a pain in my thumb, which might have been a spider bite. The healer declared that this was a priority issue (over the tumor!) and spent the whole 90 minute session healing it, as well as making an expensive flower essence remedy for it. Total cost: about $250. Several days later the pain was no better and I went to the local GP who diagnosed a minor “door jam” trauma and released the pressure with a scalpel. Instant medical healing; cost after insurance: $25. This spiritual healer valued her own time greatly but was totally disconnected from the value that her clients placed on their problem. She charged me 10 times what the real cost of the problem was to me.
How do you value the client’s problem?
OK this bit is a little tricky as everyone will value it differently. One way to value it, as I indicated in my anecdote, is to say a problem is worth no more than what it would cost to fix it by conventional means. Of course there aren’t always conventional solutions, but it does give a benchmark.
If someone has depression or emotional problems, the conventional route is to see a clinical psychologist. Since many psychologists like to see their clients for a 12 month period, the total cost of treatment might end up being $4,000 or more (this is actually conservative and accounts for insurance rebates). This places a value on the client’s problem. Any treatment you can offer with the same or higher success rate at a cost less than $4,000 is good value for the client. I’m not suggesting that you should charge that much, only that this is the upper limit.
I think that most people would be willing to pay $1,000 to clear a serious emotional or physical problem (depression, anxiety, illness etc). Some people might also be willing to pay $10,000 to clear the same problem (especially if they had a terminal illness). However, charging this much would most likely lead to accusations of exploitation.
Someone with a bad back might see a chiropractor for 2 years at a total cost of $4,000 (or more). However the same results can often be achieved through one session of RPT. Does this mean that the RPT practitioner should charge $3,000 if the same result is achieved? Economically maybe yes, but most would feel that this is not appropriate for the time involved.
What if there is no alternative treatment? I know that Reference Point Therapy offers successful treatments for a range of emotional and spiritual conditions which cannot be treated in any other way (especially the unique Re-conception method taught on our Level 2 course http://www.referencepointtherapy.com/Level2.asp). How do you value this? The short answer is that you can’t do it objectively, so you have to find what feels right.
Industry example: My friends at the Institute of Peak States offer a service which is unique – taking people to Peak States of consciousness (as defined by them). They have come up with a value – a fixed price of Au$500 for helping people to “inner peace” and Au$250 for “silent mind”. (These are the only 2 peak states offered to the public. My figures are from their 2009 Australian price list and may have changed.) My point is that the Institute has come up with a price which they feel reflects the value of what they offer. The price is fixed whether you need 10 minutes or 10 hours to reach this state.
I would personally suggest that these techniques (if they work) are worth 10 times this amount – however I can see where they have trouble communicating the benefit to the client, at least in dollar terms. After all, what is inner peace worth to you?
How much you – and your clients – value the work will depend on so many factors that I cannot list here. Ultimately what matters is this – keep your fee proportionate to the value you are offering. Don’t charge $50 to heal someone’s terminal diseases as your work isn’t being respected. And don’t charge thousands and thousands to clear someone’s abuse issues and repressed anger as this should be done in minutes at a fraction of that price.
If you have no idea what that benefit is, perhaps you need to ask the client “what is this worth to you?”
Pay per result, or the problem of performance guarantees
There’s another way to approach this. Over the last 2 years I have been experimenting with guaranteed results.
Personal anecdote: When I had an inner-ear tumor, I remember being bewildered by the range of treatment options. Many were very expensive. I remember looking at a treatment which might have cost between $5-10,000 and thinking “well I would pay that if it was a guaranteed result, but I cannot afford to try yet another therapy that doesn’t work”.
In other words healing is a risk.
I’ve been thinking, $5,000 might not be a ridiculous amount to charge someone with a terminal disease such as cancer or multiple sclerosis if you could offer them a money-back guarantee. After all, the cost of their medical treatments is likely to be much higher, so you are clearly saving them money and adding value (not to mention life).
Closer to home for most of us, there is an acceptable value for healing conditions like depression, anxiety, phobias etc. Somewhere in the range of $500-$2,000 would reflect the value to most people. I think it’s fair to offer people a higher price with a money-back guarantee.
The first healing modality to implement this was the Institute of Peak States. For those 2 peak states mentioned in the above industry anecdote, the results are guaranteed. If you don’t feel different you get your money back.
I’ve been playing with this idea for a year and I have to tell you that it’s really tricky. It works great in theory, but it’s a mess in practice. How do you measure results? You can’t just go with the client’s opinion because of the “Apex problem” that when the problem is really healed, the client cannot even remember that it was ever there. You need some form of objective measure of before and after.
With diseases like cancer there’s a clear diagnostic criteria, so you can measure whether you have succeeded or not. But with emotional conditions you only have subjective criteria. It is hard for the client to judge the improvement.
One day I would like to offer my clients a choice of paying for my time ($x per hour) or paying for a guaranteed results (flat $y). The guaranteed result will cost more but there’s no risk to the client. The hourly rate will cost the client less because there’s no risk to me. I think that this is the future of healing, but it wont work until we have found that objective way to measure the before and after. Often the tests exist but it’s costly to implement. It can be done for serious diseases but what about depression or phobias? The cost of seeing a clinical psychologist to “test” if the problem is still there would cost more than my cost of healing it forever!
For these reasons I don’t think that guarantees are the answer for us for now. It might still be the way of the future. After all, skeptics cannot accuse you of taking advantage of your clients if you don’t charge them anything for no results.
There’s another big problem with payment for results. If the client can get their money back, then maybe they have a benefit or gain for not getting better. I have not explored this in practice, but I can see where it could be a real sabotage to this idea.
Let’s put this idea of “guaranteed results” on hold for now – it’s an idea to explore later. Let’s look at what is fair to pay for a healing session today.
Putting numbers to it
Given that most of you are not going to be offering a fixed price or guarantee for now, let’s look at what seems fair for a session.
I observe that relaxation type work is often charged in the range of US$75-150 / hr. (More in cities like LA and slightly less in Australia, so adjust accordingly.) That seems to be what people are willing to pay so I guess that’s fair. I’m going to start with that as a rough guide.
People offering long term therapies like chiropractic, counseling, energy work etc need to always keep in mind that the total cost of treatment doesn’t exceed what it is worth. I don’t think it’s the amount per hour that matters as much as the total cost of the treatment. I observe that chiropractic can cost over $4,000, whereas structural integration bodywork might cost $1,500 for similar or better results. I think that practitioners need to decide what the real value of their services is to the client and then divide that by the number of sessions.
My personal view is that therapists in this category usually charge too much based on the total long term cost to get a permanent result. If (as I suspect) the actual value they give their client per session is too low for the practitioner, then maybe that particular therapy is just not cost effective. (I think that chiropractic and psychology often fall into this list compared to other therapies.)
Reference Point Therapy practitioners usually get a permanent result in 1-2 sessions. (This depends what you are working on of course). For that reason most RPT practitioners are charging too little. We are keen to keep our work affordable of course. At the same time, I know that most practitioners charge under $200 for a session with a free follow up – and they offer services that no one else can at any price.
In case you are wondering what I charge and haven’t looked at my consultations page http://www.referencepointtherapy.com/consultations.asp, I charge Au$475 for a performance package, which sometimes contains a guaranteed result. That may sound like it’s more than the average practitioner, but I can tell you that I spend many hours with my clients (always 2, usually 3 or more). My actual hourly rate is very low compared to most practitioners who charge by the hour and deliver very little permanent change. I am reluctant to increase my fee, but at the same time I know I offer exceptionally good value to my clients.
I also know that before people book with me they see that there’s a range of less expensive treatment options from other RPT practitioners on my website. I never suggest that I am the best option or the only one that can help them (be alarmed if any practitioner ever suggests that about themselves.)
If you are a practitioner reading this, what should you charge? If you can offer the sort of permanent change in one session that RPT does, then you should value it accordingly. Usually this will be in the range of $250-750 depending on what you are working on. Make sure that you understand what the client wants to treat and make sure that you are offering them fair value. This requires communication.
For other therapies, as I have noted above, you must work out the value OVERALL to the client compared to the total cost of therapy. My view is that most therapies are badly over-priced based on this long-term point of view.
I would dearly like to see a shift where all therapists (from spiritual healers through to psychologists) priced their services based on the actual real benefit they are giving their client.
Still to come:
Still to come in our practitioner series: these important topics:
- charity – or when to give sessions away;
- doing sessions for friends;
- clarifying issues before the session;
- your contract with the client.
- advertising and promotional work for practitioners,
- structuring appointment times,
- practitioner insurance; and
- having your own company; etc.
Comments / feedback
If you made it to the end of the article, let me know your thoughts. Was this helpful? Do you want to know more about the business side of healing? What do you think healers should charge? Let me know.