By Liz Wallenstein, LMHC

Many therapists with high out-of-pocket fees have full practices and waiting lists, despite the wide availability of therapy for a fraction of the price. Why are so many people choosing to pay more for therapy than they need to?

Therapy can be much more than getting help managing a pressing problem. It can provide deep healing and life-changing results. It offers benefits that can’t be found anywhere else. It’s a mistake to think of therapy as just ‘paying to talk to someone’. Ultimately you’re not paying for the session, you’re paying for the results. It’s an investment in your daily quality of life. You’re paying to feel better, create lasting change, find peace, accomplish goals, approach life with more confidence, and feel a comfort in your own skin– if it’s with the right therapist for you. Not all therapists are the same.

There is no one formula for success that all therapists follow, or one answer to your problem that any therapist can help you access. Your therapy experience depends on the unique set of talents, qualities, skills and expertise your therapist uses to engage you in the process and bring about results. Like all other service providers, therapists assign a value to their quality of care and then it’s available to whoever wants to purchase that experience. A therapist’s fee is not paying for what any therapist can do; it’s paying for what that therapist can do.

Therapists typically consider their years of experience, level of training and education, demonstrated areas of expertise, reputation, and demand for their services when setting their fee. A highly experienced or skilled therapist is likely to charge significantly more, but is also likely to produce results more powerfully and quickly.

The reason many therapists don’t take insurance is because they feel it would require them to sacrifice on quality of care. Insurance companies do not pay much per patient, requiring clinicians to have a large caseload in order to make a decent salary (this is why there is often a long wait time to see a doctor and why doctors are often too overworked to give patients their full attention- they have to be overbooked to make money). Since time and mental energy are limited, many therapists choose not to take insurance so that they can see fewer clients, at more money per client, in order to give more of themselves to each person that comes to see them. Making more money per session also affords therapists time towards trainings, supervision and research in order to provide their clients with the highest quality of care possible.

Many therapists with experience working at different ranges of fee have also found that charging more – made the therapy more effective. When the fee was more significant clients took more risks, pushed themselves more, and confronted their obstacles more quickly. It appeared that the financial investment created accountability and incentive to see results. Coincidentally, many people start making more money after engaging in therapy because they feel more motivated, confident and optimistic and it gets reflected through their profession.

Not everyone can afford higher fee therapy and it’s possible to find quality therapy at a variety of price points. But sometimes what you pay for therapy makes a statement about what you think you’re worth. Therapy is an investment. It costs, but can produce results even more valuable.

To schedule a consultation session with me to learn more about what therapy with me would be like, please visit the Contact page of my website or call me at 917-727-3549.

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Liz Wallenstein, LMHC, is in private practice in Brooklyn and Manhattan, NY.