Transparent pricing in counselling

For better or for worse, receiving support from a professional comes with a price – whether it’s through the NHS, through insurance or with an independent counsellor in private practice. This is because the professional and the service they’re attached to have their costs.


These costs are thought about in the minds of clients and counsellors. Sit in a group of counsellors, and it’s only a matter of time before the subject of money and calculating fees comes up. We all know it, counsellors and, likewise, clients talk about costs, too! Common questions I hear are:

  • Why does counselling cost so much?
  • Why isn’t support free or unlimited?
  • Why do different counsellors charge such different rates?

You, my clients, ask questions. Counsellors talk quietly amongst themselves. But, the conversation about money does not happen between client and counsellor.

Recently a client of mine asked me how counselling fees are calculated and what happens to their fee after they’ve paid. And there’s absolutely no reason why the directions money takes once it’s changed hands shouldn’t be shared – there’s no reason there should not be transparent pricing in the counselling world! Transparent pricing occurs in most businesses these days, most commonly in fashion companies, and needs to be a part of the counselling world, too.

Your fee, dear client, contributes to the following 10 expenses and compensations which are on your counsellor's desk.

1. Your counselling session’s host platform

i.e. Zoom, telephone or location rent and website.

Your counsellor will either hold sessions online or face-to-face (unless they offer an outdoor walking session), both of which come with a hosting cost. My personal Zoom subscription for 12 months costs £166 and the minimum cost of hiring a therapy room for one hour in the centre of Manchester is £10.

These costs are needed and necessary in order for client and counsellor to be in the same (virtual) space at the same time. This doesn’t take into consideration website costs or platform costs that allow the client and counsellor to know the other exists.

2. Your counsellor’s governing body membership fee

If your counsellor is registered with a governing body like the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, they are charged as a registered member (MBACP) at £178 for one year.

3. Your counsellor’s mandatory continued professional development

Mandatory and important, indeed. Continued professional development (CPD) could be costly or not. Most counsellors are subscribed to the BACP's continued professional development hub which is inexpensive (£25 per year). Courses, training, and developments to one’s learning are invaluable, and finding a counsellor that prioritises gives you with the reassurance that they are dedicated to improving their knowledge.

4. Your counsellor’s mandatory professional liability insurance

Another must – for peace of mind as well as a professional requirement. Professional liability insurance often sits around £100 to £150 depending on coverage.

5. Your counsellor’s mandatory Information Commissioner’s Office registration fee

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) registration fees are not expensive, around £40 per year, yet another point on the business costs checklist.

6. Your counsellor’s mandatory professional supervision

Counsellors and therapists are bound to attend supervision with another dedicated and capable professional in the same field. Most therapists see their supervisor for 90 minutes every month, and supervisor costs vary greatly (as they also have their own fees and costs to cover, too).

7. Your counsellor’s mandatory professional counselling

While the BACP does not require professional counsellors to attend professional counselling of their own, most counsellors choose to regularly see a therapist for their own continued professional development. With this, the BACP requires counsellors who wish to be 'senior accredited' to have 160 hours of personal professional counselling as a prerequisite. 160!

8. Your counsellor’s student debt

Student debt is often overlooked but shouldn’t be. Most counselling courses are costly. They came with a whole range of costs and fees in and of themselves. For me, my counselling postgraduate diploma and Master of Science took two years and more than £15,000 (not to mention undergraduate degree fees and time taken to reach the point of being eligible to train to be a professional).

9. Your counsellor’s wage

Wages. A certain amount of money is left over after business costs to be put into your counsellor’s pocket.

10. Your counsellor’s labour

i.e. time and emotional energy.

Fees contribute to all the above expenses, as well as compensate a counsellor’s time and energy that went into all the surrounding parts that are needed to make a session happen – any free initial intake phone calls, the booking of a session, preparing to attend a session, being present with their clients in sessions, and the packing up and travelling home again. All slices of time and energy that are needed to make counselling possible.

A therapist will charge different amounts depending on their level of skill and investment into their skills, the ground fees needed to set up a practice in their chosen location, their continued professional development, supervision, and personal counselling, and finally, their own wages. Your contribution is much appreciated and allows counsellors to continue offering their support. Thank you!

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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Manchester M30 & Cardiff CF24
Written by Lily Llewellyn, PGDip, MA, MSc, MBACP
Manchester M30 & Cardiff CF24

Visit for my website, eBook and blog. Let's make things happen! As a therapist and coach, I empower you to gain control, resilience and calm. Tell me about you?  What do you need from me?  How can I support you? My clients come to me with anxiety, low-self esteem, they ten...

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