Charging for short notice cancellations, or DNA’s (did not attend) is something I have struggled with. Personally for me Counselling is one of the caring professions, and often people who come to counselling sessions can be hurt, grieving, muddled, anxious, confused: their lives can be very chaotic. Clients’ mental health can be quite fragile, and I ask myself do I want to add to all this?
However, flip to today: My child is off school poorly, my husband who is self-employed has kindly offered to work from home so that said child will be cared for and not disturb any counselling sessions I’ve got booked in for today. I have woken early to shower, dress professionally, eat a breakfast that will see me through the sessions with no grumbly tums, I’ve then made sure the heating is on, the counselling room clean & tidy, I’ve put water in the coffee machine and lit the candles: all is ready and waiting.
The client then rings to cancel.
So what you might say? You are providing a service the client doesn’t care about your side of things: you’re a professional… Man Up! That’s life!
Or you might say that the client has a perfectly understandable reason for their non-attendance? You’d be right.
Again, flip to my side for a minute: If I were to cancel at the last minute or simply not attend (and I’ve heard some horror stories), clients would soon lose their trust in me and stop coming to sessions.
Recently in a Thriveworks article I saw booking in for counselling as likened to buying tickets for a gig, you wouldn’t expect a venue such as a theatre or football club to not charge you or refund your tickets if you didn’t attend would you? Why do I see my counselling sessions as any different?
Therapy is a relationship of sorts (different for everyone) and for any relationship to work there needs to be investment in the relationship; the work needs to be valued… I invest on my side: I am a trained qualified professional, I provide a clean comfortable warm environment, I set aside and protect my time for your needs. Clients invest by bringing themselves to the session prepared to do some work on themselves and/or their situation and they pay for my time to be safeguarded for them.
If clients do not attend, they have unfortunately prevented another client from using that time and space. The BACP sets limits on how many clients I can see during my working week: this is to keep clients safe. Therefore I only have a certain amount of spaces/sessions available: if clients reserve those spaces and then don’t use them they go to waste, which is a huge shame when other clients are waiting to see me. So, in conclusion, I will be charging for late cancellations or no shows.