I’ve been in private practice for ten years. I know it’s time for me to raise my rates. How do I go about this?
So you’re looking at raising your fees. It’s an interesting question – there’s a level that we can’t surpass. It would be outrageous if we saw an intake session for $1,000; there should be a specific limit. The limit is connected to our area. If you live somewhere where the cost of living is high, you can most likely charge more. If the cost of living is low, then your prices won’t be as high as in other areas.
Setting your fees in the first place was probably challenging enough. Do you remember learning about how to set prices in graduate school? I don’t! So, what do you charge and how do you feel comfortable with it? Take a step back and think about how you came up with your rate in the first place. Was it through market research, or did you get advice from another counselor?
Create Small Changes
Now, we can think about how to increase your rates over time. One option is creating small changes. What are the little changes that you can make? Small changes can cause a significant shift down the line. Let’s say that your fee is $100 per session. You have ten years of practice and experience; you went from an associate to fully independent with a supervisor license. With all this experience under your belt, you are confident that you can take the next step.
The first avenue is to increase your rate by $10. If you look at $10 across a year, that’s $120. That can probably pay off a percentage of your rent. It’s no different than the impact of a late cancellation. If you don’t collect a late cancellation, that adds up after a while.
Do Market Research
Another avenue is doing some market research. Take time to search online and do a careful study of your market. This process is referred to as market research. The goal is to identify what fees and rates are around your area. How much are clinicians in your area charging? You may see that starting clinicians are at $100, the same as you! Because you have ten years in practice, it’s definitely time to increase your rates. Focus on what your fees are today and what they will be five years from now. Planning is the process that helps clinicians in private practice build success one step at a time.
There are some ethical measures we should take when increasing your rates. You need a letterhead or email newsletter to your current patients. Let them know what the changes are. You can have individuals that are grandfathered in or individuals that honor the same rate. It’s critical to be transparent with those that you serve.
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