Welcome to week two of five on dispelling common myths surrounding counseling. Last week I addressed why counseling isn’t just for “really messed up people,” but for all of us. This week I’m going to address what’s probably the second biggest objection I hear in regards to counseling:
MYTH #2: I can’t come in for counseling because it costs too much.
Some counseling friends of mine have a pretty direct and succinct response for those of you who might balk at the cost of counseling but are in a dire place in your marriage: Counseling is a heck of a lot cheaper than a lawyer. You might chuckle at their response, but you have to admit: it’s true. Plus, you have to consider the fact that the counseling approach is saying something about your relationship, regardless of the cost. Your willingness to try counseling vs. throwing in the towel tells the other person that you value them, your relationship with them, and what you have together. Whether or not you’ve been together for two years or twenty, saying, “Let’s get some help and see if we can work this out” reflects a hope and belief that every situation (and person) has the capacity to be redeemed if you’re willing to work at it. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog in and of itself, and I’m not going there today. Today is really about the facts and just the facts, ma’am.
Whether single or in a relationship, yes, the tangible cost of counseling can seem daunting. Depending on the counselor you choose on our team, costs can run anywhere from $80 (individual sessions) up to $110 (couples or family sessions). However, we do offer a sliding scale based on financial need. And just to remove the ambiguity around the phrase “financial need,” we determine that by assessing your income and/or your life circumstances. For example, if you’re single and make $28,000 a year or less, you’re automatically offered the sliding scale amount ($60-$75 per individual session dependent upon your counselor). If you’re married and you make $48,000 a year or less, you’re automatically offered the sliding scale amount ($75-$95 per session, again dependent upon your counselor). However, we also take into account life situations. Maybe you make more than our minimum on a yearly basis, but are paying back medical debt or are caring for an aging parent or have six teenage boys that are nearly eating you out of house and home. The situations that can qualify you for our sliding scale are as unique as each person that I speak with. The point is, if you feel like receiving our sliding scale is something that you could or should qualify for, ask me about it when you call or email and let’s chat further. However, please know that receiving our sliding scale if you make more than our annual minimum means you’re demonstrating fiscal responsibility in all areas of your life. And while we’re not here to judge you on what “responsible” looks like, we might get suspicious if you show up for your appointment in a 2013 BMW and talk about that great vacation to Maui you just took, and then ask for that reduced rate. I’m just saying…
Another thing we can help you do to control the cost of counseling is work with you to determine the frequency of which you come in to meet with your counselor. We do recommend that in the beginning you budget for at least 3-4 consecutive weekly sessions as this gets the ball rolling on the progress you’re hoping to make and helps you to start seeing change more quickly, which encourages you to continue your work and progress. However, once that change starts happening, we can usually start to back off to bi-weekly (or fewer) sessions. In these situations your counselor will usually give you homework to do during your off weeks so you keep making progress in the direction of your goals. This allows you to help keep the cost of counseling in a range that’s reasonable for your budget but keeps you moving in the right direction. Just remember, though, that a lot of this is dependent on YOU. Your counselor could be world-renowned at what he/she does, but if you’re not in it to make a change, then the progress will be slow-going and likely painful. Keeping an open mind and heart during the counseling process, being willing to admit to whatever “stuff” you’re bringing with you, having a true desire to change—THAT is what’s going to really help move the counseling process along and bring your time in therapy to a quicker, more affordable, and more satisfying end.
I could go on about how the tangible cost of counseling can really be negated when compared to the personal growth most people experience when they truly pour themselves into the counseling process (I’m hearing a MasterCard ad in my head: “Cost of counseling: $95. Personal growth and a better understanding of who you are and why you do what you do and how that effects your life and the people in it: Priceless”) but like I mentioned before, that’s for another blog. Today what I hope you hear me saying is that we don’t want cost to be a barrier to you if you’re considering counseling. Call me. Let’s talk further and see what we can’t work out. I promise you, it’ll be worth it in the end.