Money, Counselling & Healing
Suggestions for Voluntary Donation:
1 hour session: $90
1 hour session: $40 (Pensioner)
The above are only meant to be a guideline. This is your donation.
Why a Donation?
How much is it worth? It’s a common question. Sometimes it’s spoken, sometimes it’s asked silently to oneself. It can refer to anything: a car; a house; a combo of meat pie, gravy, chips and a Coke; a direct, business class flight to the capital of Uzbekistan; whatever. But how do we accurately, even approximately, judge the value of a thing? For myself, the question gets different answers depending on my mood, finances and values. When I’m happy, I’m more likely to buy something that isn’t an absolute necessity: its value for me seems to go up. When my personal finances are stretched, certain things become less important and lose a degree of their worth. When I know a product is made in an environmentally friendly manner and that the labour of those who made it is not being exploited, its value increases for me.
Naturally, this question is as relevant when thinking about the value of counselling and psychotherapy services as for anything else. Most us who have been raised and lived in a market economy for any length of time, have a fairly well-developed sense of what the monetary worth of a particular product or service is. Invariably this is a comparative value, that is we derive it by rapidly and, for the most part, unconsciously calculating the cost, for instance, of an hour session of counselling against the cost of something we’re very familiar with, say a cup of coffee. If the counselling session is, say, $100, I instantaneously have a sense that the cost approximates 25 cups of coffee. Mix that in with the considerations mentioned earlier, like my emotional and financial states, plus how badly I want a thing, or how badly my friends, family and community think I should have it, and then many considerations besides that I’m unaware of, and I wind up with a lot of data to process in order to make my decision to buy or not to buy.
That this process usually works well enough to enable me to come to a decision can often hide an aspect of this transaction that many of us don’t normally think about, that is, what is it we are evaluating when we question the cost of a product or service. Involved in the cost of everything we buy is someone’s labour, which is the time and effort a person has put into making a product or delivering a service. To a significant extent, I cannot abstract a person’s activity from the person’s life and the person herself, which means when I pose the question about an item’s value, I am also evaluating, putting a price on, a person, a very particular person. Seen in this way, the question about the value of a thing becomes also a question about the value of a person. That person might be a stranger or a member of my immediate family. In either case, the original question, because it now contains the question about the worth of a person, doesn’t feel so right anymore. This sense of the question’s inappropriateness has special relevance for psychotherapy.
Psychology is the study of the inner workings of persons. And what is a person? In times past, most people accepted as given that persons were created in the image of The Divine. Today, in increasing measure, that belief has been replaced by others, such as the belief that The Market, operating in accordance with the law of supply and demand, can decide the value of a person’s labour and, to some degree, at least when we are doing business, the value of the person herself. In this regard, a person is no different than a T.V., a pair of shoes or a hamburger. For the profession of psychotherapy and for society as a whole, this drift toward viewing others as primarily objects or commodities whose value lies in their capacity to satisfy my needs, is fundamentally problematic. This view not only over-simplifies a person, it becomes a barrier between that person and myself to the extent that I am concerned with what that person can give me rather than who that person is. It makes more difficult the fellow-feeling of the other as someone with whom I share a common humanity. It also denies me the opportunity of learning more deeply about myself, for that is precisely what the company of another offers me–if I can see her in the fullness of who she is. The purely economic view of separate, competing, self-interested individuals trips up all of us on our way to becoming more peaceful, interconnected and fulfilled persons living in community.
All well-working, sustainable relationships, the counselling relationship included, depend on my and the other person’s trust that we can recognize that each of us is an individual yet similar in important respects: that our value as a person is measureless, priceless and beyond defining by number or word, and that we are never primarily a means to an end, certainly not one of financial gain. With this in mind, and with the view that the health professions are well placed to lead the way toward a more person-aware attitude to human interactions, I am making my fee for service a voluntary donation. It is my hope this arrangement will help both you and I learn over time that your striving and mine to become the persons we dream to be are not unrelated aspirations.