Disagree with therapist about payment

Disagree with therapist about payment

QUESTION:

your avatar   Jo (28-year-old man)

I have been seeing a new therapist for four months and last week we went over in time. That day, when she realized it, she was very distressed and shuffled me out of the office. This past week, she said (when I mentioned my frustration about that day in therapy) that she had not seen the clock and "did not know we were going over [time]." Then at the end of the session, she asked me about paying her for the extra half hour. I said, "Why do you think I should?" She said that the last session, she thought we were "really getting somewhere" and that I should pay her for the overtime.

Now, I have no problem with overtime, but the reason she gives is wrong. What should I do? Is she trustworthy, or was I being shaken down? Is this wrong no matter what? Should I end things with her because she is too money conscious?

ANSWER:

    Andy Bernay-Roman,

Dear Jo,

I believe the therapist is the "timekeeper" for the session, and if she lost track of time and went over, she should not expect you to pay, unless you had made a prior agreement to pay for unannounced overtime. If she had notified you that you were about to go over time, and if it would be OK with you - with the clear understanding that you pay for her time - then yes, you pay. But without explicit prior understanding of an agreement to pay for overtime you're not responsible for the payment. Your therapist needs to not only eat the "loss" because of her own mistake, but to get off it, clarify for future arrangements, and move on.

This is a great opportunity for you to take care of yourself appropriately by taking a stand you feel OK about. If your refusal to pay, or her insistence that you pay, seem to place a wedge between you, you need to ascertain if she can actually continue to do therapy with you. Talk about it, get a feel for the nature of the relationship, and see if this event has become an unworkable obstacle. It might be an indicator that you and this therapist are not a good match. Or it might be a great opportunity to work out a disagreement in a way that makes your relationship more intimate and therapeutically potent than before.

Stick to common sense, and beware of letting the "authority" of your therapist, or anything, sway you from it.

Sincerely,

Andy Bernay-Roman

This question was answered by Andy Bernay-Roman, RN, MS, LMHC, NCC, LMT. He is a nationally certified counselor in private psychotherapy practice in South Florida working with individuals, couples, and families with a deep-feeling therapy approach. Andy's medical background as an ICU nurse contributes to his success with clients with difficult medical diagnoses and/or chronic physical conditions. He also serves as head of the Psychological Support Department of West Palm Beach's Hippocrates Health Institute.For more information visit: http://www.deepfeeling.com/

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