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Clinical Meeting: Penny for your thoughts…

Following the Easter break, we re-convened the clinical meetings on 24th April to discuss an issue which is relevant to private practice and which has been discussed, interpreted, counter-interpreted and negotiated since the early days of psychoanalysis: Money. In the UK, money sits with politics, sex and religion as a bit of a taboo subject, and it is one many of us may struggle to talk about in a straightforward manner. It was Freud who argued that, like sex, the therapist should model a shame-free and guilt-free way to discuss money with clients. Are we there yet?

The meeting, titled Money and charging in private practice – issues, experiences, thoughts sought to address these subjects through artmaking and group discussion. The images explored the various difficulties about charging clients, the tension between our desire to heal and give unconditionally to those who need us, and the realities of following a client-practitioner business model. Many dilemmas emerged: negotiating boundaries with clients who have financial difficulties; discussing payment with clients’ parents; sliding scale payment structures; and what to do when a client sends you a blank open cheque? These transactions, like many in the therapeutic encounter, are meaningful and can touch on both the client’s and the practitioner’s personal histories and attitudes towards money.

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Image by Mirella Issaias

Ultimately, the question of what and how we charge for our work is one all of us should continue to discuss and understand. One member of the group quoted a therapist who said: “I charge for my time, but give the love for free”. It is important to consider our training, knowledge and skills when we set a monetary value to the work we do, while remaining true to our own set of personal ethics.

Thanks to Dave Rogers who brought some interesting reading material as well as articles to distribute.

Posted by Nili Sigal, art therapist &
clinical meetings coordinator

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