Is financial pressure causing people to cut back on therapy?

This is a question I have heard other counsellors asking recently, as well as the question I have been asking myself of late.

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I suspect what is happening is that people are being squeezed so much that there is no money left in their budget for counselling. People see counselling as not necessary; it is expensive, so they will continue to cope and struggle on without it.

This gives me a deep sense of sadness. The need is undeniable. Undoubtedly the cost is prohibitive, but the things that cause people to seek counselling do not get better when they are ignored. I would argue the opposite happens. 

Counselling, expensive as it is, is cheaper than the consequences of not having counselling.

Depression, the decreased ability to function at our best, the stress it brings to our lives, and families, the relationship breakdowns, the constant unresolved lack of well-being. None of which are cheap. 'A penny spent now saves a pound later' seems quite appropriate.


What is the impact on counselling professionals?

A colleague of mine has dropped from 10+ clients to three, and I have gone from 15 to eight clients. Apart from the aspect of 'How am I going to pay the bills?', it has caused me to consider a perhaps broader picture.

Certainly, I do not believe that every client or person in need has got well overnight. I know my clients are heading towards a healthier way of being, but they are not there yet. A charity I work with has had to close its doors to new clients because they do not have the capacity to take any more clients. I was appalled recently when I read a counsellor posting that they considered £10 an hour (average) net take home to be acceptable. In a similar way, I do not believe that the need for counselling has plummeted, so what is going on?

In any industry, the law of supply and demand applies. Lots of counsellors and fewer clients leads to downward pressure on pay rates. Is that the cause of what counsellors are experiencing? I do feel that there is a race to the bottom in the counselling world i.e. competition in rates offered. But I do question the wisdom of this.

I certainly would not want to have counselling from a counsellor who, for financial reasons, is seeing between eight and 10 clients a day. Even more, I would not want to be a client towards the end of that counsellor's day.

To try and understand what is happening I need to consider what is happening in the rest of the world - the economy. An example that struck me was from someone who posted on Facebook recently. In order to live in a less than desirable house, in a less than desirable area, to meet the needs of a parent of two children, with no frills, just outgoings, they calculated they needed to be bringing in £45k - 50k per annum. I can quibble about the amounts used and the way the budget is managed but I cannot quibble with the general idea of the post. Who in our country achieves that level of income? Undoubtedly some do but certainly not the majority of people I think.

I am aware of a lot more people who survive on a lot less. So what to do?


Navigating financial concerns with therapy

For me, it comes down to priorities. Would you ignore an engine warning light on your dashboard because of the cost? You might do so for a while but you know that the longer you leave the trip to the garage, the greater the cost.

The car is essential in today's world, but so is your health and well-being. If you are experiencing financial difficulty, speak to your counsellor. Ask them about the potential to reduce fees for a period of time. You might be pleasantly surprised.

When looking to receive counselling, do not let your financial circumstances cause you to stop looking. Ask any counsellors you are considering if they can negotiate lower fees. You might be surprised to hear that quite a few counsellors hold a certain number of reduced fee slots in their practices.

That stiff upper lip, the suffering in silence and the 'British way' is outdated. It serves only to prolong suffering and to deny well-being. You deserve so much more than to just grimly carry on. You deserve so much more than surviving - you deserve to be thriving.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Chelmsford CM1
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Written by Steve Fayers, Counsellor / Therapist | Certified Trauma Therapist
Chelmsford CM1

I am a person, a counsellor, a parent, a flawed human being who has struggled with life. Struggled with addiction.
I would rather struggle than give in and accept a life that does not meet my needs and wants.
I am trying to be the best person I can be.
"I will not go quietly into that goodnight " (paraphrased Dylan Thomas)

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