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Fee-Setting for Therapists in Private Practice

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

Three considerations for calculating your session fee:

Fee-Setting for Therapists in Private Practice
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Are you at the beginning of your journey in private practice? Perhaps you're still in training and planning your first steps? Or maybe you feel ready to leave your current job or volunteering role and set up your own business?

Either way, fee-setting might feel like a really tricky thing to figure out, especially when therapy fees can be so varied across our field.

At the end of my counsellor training, when I was ready to set up my private practice, I was aware of the expectations on newly qualified therapists to charge a 'newly qualified fee'. Although I acknowledged this as important and right for many practitioners, it didn't match my own feelings about my abilities, skills, experience and qualifications at that time. I felt I had already developed effective therapeutic skills and experience through my placement and I also felt ready and more than willing to offer a professional and ethical service to my clients. I wanted to charge a fee that was sustainable for me and reflective of my skills, instead of the point I was at in my career journey.

I just wasn’t sure how to go about this and found little guidance out there which empowered something other than a ‘newly qualified’ fee structure.

By working through this in supervision and by attending various workshops on private practice, I established a fee that felt ethical and right for me and my business. Simply, I considered the practicalities of my business and the kind of income that would realistically support me to show up well for my clients.

This involved three considerations: my business expenses, my professional time and the economic environment. I have shared more on each point below, as a simple and considerate structure for setting your fee in private practice:

#1 Business Expenses

Simply put, it helps for your income to outweigh your expenses. Here are some considerations for this (common practice expenses in the UK):

  • Room rental

  • Internet and phone charges

  • Your supervision fees

  • Any stationery you might use (eg. pens, paper, or printer ink)

  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

  • Therapeutic resources (these might include any books you purchase or resources you might use in-session with clients)

  • Professional body fees

  • Directory fees

  • Professional indemnity insurance

  • Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) fees

  • Additional marketing fees (for example, a paid advert on Instagram)

  • Holiday pay (budgeting for your holidays)*

  • Sick pay (budgeting for emergencies)

  • Writing and sharing of free resources - if you share your skills and knowledge in other places (for example, online) will you factor this into your session fee?

* to budget for holidays and emergency leave, calculate how much money you would need to cover any time off and factor this into your monthly expenses.

#2 Professional Time

When we think about expenses it's common to neglect the less tangible aspects of our business, like our professional time used to support our clients. Here are some examples of this, which you might factor into your fee as well:

  • Partnership working (for example, liaising with social work, parents or your client's GP)

  • Compiling and sending resources to clients

  • In between session support (for example, answering emails)

  • Session preparation (time taken to prepare for a session with a client)

  • Time in supervision (this space is there to support your client work)

  • Time in CPD (another factor that can support your client work)

  • Writing notes

  • Time in-session with your client

#3 The Economic Environment

Two things to consider here: your local ‘market’ and inflation.

Once you have considered your expenses, it’s ok to refer to other practitioners in your local area, or within similar specialisms, as a base for your fee as well. If so, how might this inform your fee? For example, will you choose to match this or charge differently?

Secondly, it’s important that these three points continue to be supportive of you. It is often necessary for a business to shift and change with the economy in order to be sustainable. With this in mind, will you consider room for inflation and fee increases over time?

These considerations have helped me establish and continue to adjust my fee in a way that effectively supports my business and my ability to show up well for my clients. I hope this simple structure might offer some gentle guidance to other therapists beginning this journey, which feels empowering of the newly self-employed practitioner, their wellbeing, and their business success (with the ultimate goal of effective client care).

If you're thinking about private practice, and you enjoyed this post, get in touch to explore working together through individual coaching and mentorship for therapists.


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