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Creating an Affordable Counseling Option for Clients: Group Psychotherapy

Creating an Affordable Counseling Option for Clients: Group Psychotherapy

While offering a sliding-scale option for one-on-one therapy is a great way to support clients in need of counseling, the scope of sliding-scale spots in your practice should be limited – otherwise, you can’t maintain a thriving practice! But there is a modality of counseling that can also serve as an affordable option for clients – group psychotherapy. Making the choice to offer some group counseling can be a big decision for a therapist. If this is something you’re considering, take a look at the below for things to keep in mind before you move forward.

What’s the need? If you live in a populated area, the demand for group counseling to address nearly every topic is probably quite high – there are so few groups out there, and many clients are starting to look into these offerings and are finding that they don’t exist. However, if you practice in a more rural area, there may not be the client base to support a regular group. Think about your location and if it supports offering a group service.

What’s your specialty? In other words, what’s a group focus that you have enough expertise in that could meet the needs of a variety of clients? Keeping your group focus too broad (i.e. “Improving Coping Skills”) can make the purpose of the group vague and cast too wide a net for potential clients. However, a group with too narrow a focus may limit your potential client base so much that you can’t attain the numbers needed to support a group. A helpful step here is to think about your ideal client – the person who you feel most comfortable working with and that you are often most successful with. What kind of group would that client benefit from?

How will you build your group? While some of your current clients may be interested in and will benefit from the addition of group counseling, not all of your group clients will come from your current client base. Think about how you will market the group and what connections you already have that can support you with referrals.

How will the group function? This question addresses the mechanics of your group and gives your clients a better idea of what to expect when they attend. Will the group be closed to a cohort of clients or open, running on an ongoing basis with new clients joining over time? Will the group have a set number of sessions or run indefinitely? How often and for how long will the group meet?

How, and for how much, will you bill clients that attend the group? Finally, you’ll need to consider what a fair price for participation in the group is. It can be easy to underbill for this service by dividing the cost of what you would normally charge for the length of the group by the number of participants. However, this doesn’t account for the additional planning and client support that will go along with running a successful group. Make sure to account for the time you’ll be spending promoting the group, checking in with group members, planning topics and activities, and completing initial participant intakes. Depending on the group format, you’ll also decide whether to charge clients per session attended or by a weekly or monthly rate as a member of the group.

The wonderful thing about offering group treatment is that it can often be less expensive for clients than one-on-one counseling. It’s also a great way to vary up your schedule, giving you more diversity in your service offerings and experience working with clients. The key to a successful group is to plan well in advance and make the key decisions about the group when you need to.  

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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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