If you’ve gone to therapy for any length of time, you’ve probably been in the unhappy position of being charged a fee for missing an appointment. This has a tendency to bring up many thoughts and feelings, often along the lines of “that money-hungry jerk just wants my money and doesn’t care about me or anyone else.”
This is an uncomfortable position to be in as a therapist. Most of us are in the field because we want to help people. Accepting money for helping them is one thing, but taking their money when we didn’t even see them? Not fun. Our compassionate nature often doesn’t want to cause them stress by charging this fee, and our human nature (yes, we are humans too) wants our clients to think we are kind and understanding.
In spite of these discomforts, we charge “no show” and “late cancellation” fees as much for our clients as we do for ourselves.
Many times in therapy-land, clients have trouble with boundaries, especially when it comes to setting and enforcing boundaries for themselves. By enforcing the boundary of requiring advanced notice that you won’t be using your appointment time, we are modeling how to be firm yet caring when teaching others how you want to be treated.
- Sometimes you won’t feel like going. Go anyway.
Therapy is hard work. And sometimes you just don’t feel like getting into the painful emotions that brought you to therapy in the first place. But you know what? When you feel the least like going is usually the time that you need to go the most. So if the extra motivation you need is knowing you’ll have to pay for the session if you skip it, then we can help with that!
- Therapy needs to be a priority
In order to make good progress, your therapy needs to be a priority in your schedule, not just something you do when no one else needs your attention at the moment. This might mean telling the boss you have a lunchtime appointment and can’t attend the last-minute meeting called over your lunch hour. Or arranging an Uber for your high schooler to get home from practice when the person on carpool duty flakes. Or ordering takeout because you don’t have time to cook and attend therapy in the same evening. Obviously not everything can be predicted with 24 hours notice, and many of us don’t charge for illness or emergency. But sometimes knowing you’ll have to pay the missed appointment fee if you don’t go is just enough motivation to put your own needs first for a change.
- Time is precious
Your therapy hour has been set aside just for you. Your therapist may have had to turn someone down who wanted to schedule an appointment in your time slot, and instead that appointment went unused. Besides losing income, we missed the opportunity to help someone else. Time is one thing you can never make more of, so we charge the missed appointment fee to help you value both our time and your own.
So next time you are tempted to think your therapist is just charging the fee so she can line her pockets with $100 bills, remember that there just might be more to it than that.