Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

Having a High Therapy Fee Means You’re a Capitalist

I’m a self-pay therapist who charges $300/80 min. My fee is considered high where I live - it is above the average rate for therapists in Tucson, AZ. My fee equates to $200/50 min and the average here is roughly $100-125/50 min.


I’ve heard individuals assert that high fee therapists are just capitalists.


While I could break down what “capitalist” means, I’d rather focus on what people mean when they use it as a negative descriptor of others.


Tucson Art Therapist Jackie Schuld made a mixed media collage that contains multiple people and images of money.  Jackie Schuld owns a Tucson Art Therapy Private Practice and her art illustrates how self-pay therapists are often equated with capitalism.
"All About the Money" Mixed Media Collage by Jackie Schuld

They mean:

  • That person is all about the money

  • That person doesn’t care about people

  • That person just wants to make money above all else

  • That person lacks compassion

  • That person is selfish

  • That person isn’t inclusive

  • That person doesn’t care about our community, environment, or social justice

  • That person is what’s wrong with the world


It’s difficult to know that some people look at my fees and automatically jump to those assumptions and assertions.


They don’t know me well enough to know:



  • I’m rejecting the patriarchal and injust notion that I have to serve and sacrifice my well-being to be of worth. Serving is expected of women far more than it is of men, so it’s no wonder that counseling, a field composed primarily of women, is wrought with insufficient pay and the expectation to serve and help. I write about it more in my essay on Martyrdom Mentality.


  • I see that the broken system does not meet my needs and I’m doing something about it. Our current social systems do not provide adequately for the well-being of its people (health insurance, higher education, etc.). I wish it did more, but I have to acknowledge that it is not currently enough. I have to therefor ensure that I am meeting my own needs within this broken system. I ensure that my private practice earns enough so that I can afford:

  • Health care

  • Student loans

  • Retirement

  • Savings Safety Net

  • Vacations, Sick Days


  • I choose how I contribute to my community. I reject the notion that the only way I meaningfully contribute to my community is through a reduced fee. I am far more than that. I contribute to my community in multiple ways that align with my joy, energy, and talents. For example, I offer a grief support program and volunteer with a local non-profit.


  • My worth is not determined by my productivity. Even if I didn’t contribute to my community, I am still a person of worth. In our society, we often equate worth to productivity. That is not the case.


  • I understand my values and design my practice accordingly. I’ve taken the time to discern what I value and how to best structure my practice so that I can live those values. I openly share my values with my clients on my value page on my website.


  • I’m an autistic person living in a world designed for neurotypicals. My autistic brain causes me to experience the world differently than most. Tasks that are natural and normal for neurotypical people can leave me drained. If the world was designed for allistics, our environments and systems would be entirely different. It’s not though, so I have to honor my limitations and attend to my need for rest. That means I need to work less hours, and to do that, I need to charge more.


  • I don’t want to define myself by what I am against, but what I am for. I am for time. I am for space. Safety. Creativity. Boundaries. Freedom. Self Ownership. Kindness. All of these things and more. I am for humanity. And that includes my own humanity.


  • I cannot solve systemic problems with individual sacrifices. I cannot solve systemic problems by depleting myself. I cannot singularly resolve our health care system, systemic racism, and other injustices. I cannot solve all that is wrong with the insurance system and it’s poor treatment of therapists and clients. I cannot solve our country’s inadequate mental health care (and the systems that cause poor mental health) by overburdening myself and sacrificing my well-being.


  • I can do far more for the world when I am contributing from a place of nourishment and joy. adrianne maree brown explores this in depth in her book “Pleasure Activism.” By charging a fee that aligns with my needs, I am a far more effective, rested, and powerful therapist. I can contribute to social justice, the environment, and my community from a resourced and nourished place.


No one can possibly know all of these things when they look at my therapy fee and make a snap judgment. That is something that I have had to come to terms with as a high fee therapist. I have to be enough for myself. I have to know that I know my reasons, and that is good enough. I have to accept the gap between who I am and how I’m perceived and judged.


 

Thank you for reading. I provide business consultation for therapists who want their private practices to honor their values and needs.

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