What I have discovered is that the people who do whatever it takes to negotiate a lower fee, or simply don’t pay at all, derive the least benefit from a service such as hypnotherapy. It is evidence of their unwillingness or inability to exert personal responsibility. Which means they are also the most likely to claim afterwards that hypnosis did not work for them.
If you depend on your business for a livelihood, you cannot afford to give your services away. With that in mind, you need to start thinking like a businessperson, and that means thinking beyond the immediate service you provide. No more freebies!
Gwen is typical. She is afraid to charge a fee that covers her full costs. For example, in working with her own client, after one session she made five customized CDs for the client to listen to at home. I asked Gwen if she charged for her time, equipment, and supplies (disks, labeling, etc). She hadn't. I reminded her she had returned to hobbying. Those are details that come with the business mechanics of a practice.
In other words, your hourly rate—or however you charge—must be calculated to pay for EVERYTHING that comprises your practice. Rent. Utilities. Supplies. And THEN, how much money do you need for yourself to consider your work a livelihood?
Another way to look at your fee is, how much of your life are you willing to give up for it? Gwen has been unclear about her boundaries. She bills only for her consulting time. So the CDs were produced at her expense, not the client’s. And, if the client calls in the middle of the night with a crisis, she may consult for three hours without charging for it.
So it is important to examine your own work habits to establish an appropriate fee structure. Do you want to include CD production as part of a session fee or as an additional service? Do your services favor charging by the hour, session or project? There are many different ways to price your services; but once you have determined it, write out a detailed policy. You don’t want to be rigid, but the ability to communicate appropriate boundaries benefits both you and your clients.
As a hypnotherapist, friendly conversations can often migrate imperceptibly into therapy. I am quite comfortable with “I can only answer your question as a therapist, and for that I would have to charge you. We can either make arrangements for payment, or change the subject.” Does that make you uncomfortable? On several occasions a past client has suggested “I need to ask a question that would qualify as therapy, so would you be willing to turn the clock on?” I attribute that to my own unapologetic professionalism.
In contrast, after giving away several free consultations Gwen feels taken advantage of. That’s the part that comes back to bite you. This is when an inappropriate fee structure becomes a problem. If you knowingly, consciously, give of your time to a client out of compassion, that makes it a gift and you must let it go. But if you ruminate on it with a sense of loss, it is no longer a gift.
Once you have established a fee, you have to close the sale.