It’s been a week of focussing on the business aspects of online counselling.
The issue of marketing arose when I was meeting with a colleague in the community who is an executive coach. She’s just starting her own private practice and was asking me about my marketing. Where did I advertise? How did I handle marketing? What innovative and creative ways was I using to get the word out?
I felt a little sheepish as I mumbled something that I hope sounded reasonable. I will admit that marketing is not my strong suit. I know I have to do it yet it’s one of those things about which I tend to procrastinate. Which isn’t good because I am in private practice! Anyone else feel the same way?
I left that conversation resolving to work on my marketing skills.
Pricing of online counselling services came up when I was one of two guest speakers in a graduate Career Counselling course. One of the students asked whether there were “set rates for online counselling fees or is it a free market”? I responded “free market” as I couldn’t think of any organization that set a range of counselling fees for online services.
When I got home I did some research to find out if there was a “recommended fee” for online counselling. I found the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors has a “recommended fee schedule” for in-person and telephone counselling but doesn’t cover email/text-based counselling. As I did further research I found counsellors were charging anywhere from $25 – $220 for an email/text-based counselling session.
With such an incredible range how on earth does one decide what is a reasonable fee for online counselling services?
In my search I came across this interesting article by Kevin Friery (a UK counsellor) written in 2003 with an update in 2011 on ‘The Cost of Counselling’. His comment (at the bottom of the article), “… that we need to engage not only with price but with the psychological significance of money within a therapeutic relationship…” I found quite intriguing.
The other thing I found interesting was this – some counsellors charge different rates for text-based counselling than for in-person or video counselling. I wasn’t clear on precisely why these rates were different. It made me wonder about how text-based counselling is viewed. Does charging less suggest it is a lesser activity? Not as valuable as regular in-person counselling? Counselling lite?
Or simply that the counsellor will spend less time on an email session than they would in-person? Or…? Let’s have a conversation about this. Any comments, suggestions, thoughts are welcome.
Dawn Schell, MA, CCC, CCDP is an affiliate of Worldwide Therapy Online Inc.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA