It’s that time of year when I think about my practice, which includes reviewing my professional fees. I charge just RM100 per hour for clients in Malaysia and US$35 per hour for overseas clients. That’s about 50% to 70% less than the average rate. I’m not putting it up this year, and I’ll explain why in a minute.
First though, you might wonder why therapy is so expensive. Basically, it’s because you can’t take on clients until you’ve done Bachelor and Masters Degrees. The minimum is 7 years training and that costs a bomb.
Also, the work is really intensive. For example, I spent 6 hours yesterday talking to people recovering from incest, sexual abuse, workplace bullying, cheating, and plain depression and anxiety. At the end of that, I was wiped. Because it’s intensive, I have to limit the hours I take on. If I do too much, I’ll burn out.
So why am I not following the trend and upping my fees to RM150 which is the basic low rate or to RM350 which I can also swing if I stick to CEOs and the assorted affluent people?
Because I’m a twit 😊
Seriously, it’s mostly because of ethics. I believe that the people who need help most tend to be the ones at the bottom of the pay scale. As for that pay scale, here are some facts from The Malaysian Department of Statistics
In 2020, the mean salary for men in Malaysia was RM2,093
In 2020, the mean salary for women in Malaysia was RM2,019
In 2019, the mean salary for men in Malaysia was RM2,477
In 2019, the mean salary for women in Malaysia was RM2,370
So between 2019 and 2020, men lost 15.5% in income and women lost 14.8%.
With the pandemic on top of this, I expect that 2021 is going to suck, too.
What I could do is means-test, meaning I ask people what they earn and charge according to a sliding scale.
I know this is a common practice but I find it horrendous for two reasons. First, people’s pay is very private. Actually much more private than sex. Second, although it’s not sensible, people do link self-worth to salary. So asking for a discounted price on the basis of low earnings may shame them.
I absolutely will not put my clients into a position where they have to share personal information that may also make them uncomfortable in order to get help.
As I can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution, I choose to maintain my charges for another year. As the price of living is going up, I will work a little harder, but know that this is the more ethical approach. <- like I said, I’m a twit 😊 but I do try and do things Right.
In a practical spirit, I may also see about getting a bit of sponsorship going in 2022 for my poorer clients. That may be tricky because it means dealing with a lot of ethical issues, but it may be worth checking out.
Anyway, that’s the thought for today. I’m off to edit my new book and tomorrow I have a think about my website.
If you know anyone looking for mental health support, send them my way?