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3 Things to Remember When a Client Can’t Afford Your Rate

3 Things to Remember When a Client Can’t Afford Your Rate

When you’re working to establish your practice (and even when you have already built a strong business), it’s essential that you bring in an income that supports you and allows your business to thrive. We believe there’s room in this model to offer some portion of services at a sliding-scale rate so that clients who would otherwise be unable to afford therapy are given the opportunity to access it. But you’ll undoubtedly run into circumstances where a potential client reaches out to you for care that you are unable to provide. When this happens, keep these things in mind in order to best support a client in this situation.

It’s okay to say no: We tell this to client’s all the time, but it can still be hard to do as practitioners. In our desire to help others, it can be tempting to justify accepting “just one more” sliding-scale client, even when the numbers don’t really support our ability to maintain a thriving practice. Before you get to that point, make sure to set a firm boundary around the percent of clients you can accept at a lower rate and stick to it.

Get creative: If a client would still really like to work with you after explaining that you cannot accept them at the rate they are able to pay, consider some other options for working with them. Depending on the client’s circumstances and whether counseling is an immediate need, talk with them about the possibility of wait-listing for a sliding scale slot or meeting less often or for shorter sessions. Based on what they can afford, discuss with them the level of service you would feel comfortable providing – let them decide if that’s something they are comfortable with.

Give resources: For situations where you aren’t able to work with a client, it’s helpful to keep a repository of resources that you can refer them to so that they can receive the help they need. This can include local resources, such as non-profits, counseling centers, or other therapists who accept sliding scale. You might also suggest the client try online counseling in lieu of face-to-face if that’s something you think could meet their needs.

While we hope to help as many people as possible, the reality of running a business means that we will sometimes have to say no. But you can do this while still supporting clients and linking them to other services whenever possible.

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Jennifer N.
Posted on 11/20/2017 by Jennifer N.

Jennifer is a writer for OpenCounseling. She has worked at a number of state and non-profit organizations, providing counseling, training, and policy development



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