Most of us do our jobs to get paid. Even if we like our work, even if we’re good at it, most of us would bail on our jobs if we got rich somehow.
Grifters therapists are just like everyone else in this regard. After all it’s possible to help people for free, like working on a crisis line, and probably some therapists do that as well. The rest just want to earn.
The money can be pretty good. Say a therapist charges $100 per hour and bills 1200 hours per year, roughly 26 hours per week, 46 weeks of the year (which is a lot less than most people work), that’s $120 000. Knock off $20K for office rental, phone, computer, website, advertising and other overheads. That’s $100K in taxable income, still not bad. Take a third off for taxes and other deductions (the same ones every working person pays), that leaves a take-home annual income of $67 000, which I’m guessing is well above the median or average take-home income in many wealthy countries. Hell, it’s more than I take home and I’m pretty comfortable. Full disclosure: I don’t have kids or a mortgage. But plenty of people who do have kids and mortgage would thank their lucky stars if they took home $67K per year and they would work 40 hours per week, every week of the year, to get it. Without a word of complaint either.
Sure, it’s easy to challenge these numbers since taxes and overheads will vary widely between locations. But so will therapy fees; you can be sure that NYC therapists charge a lot more than Tallahassee therapists. So I figure it evens out and my example isn’t too far off the mark.
Not that it’s easy for therapists to book 1200 hours every year. They often must work evenings and weekends, since their
Marks clients are people who can afford expensive therapy sessions and tend to be at work on weekdays. Every Mark that leaves must be replaced. Some cities have an over-supply of therapists and competition is fierce. Grifters need to hustle to keep their schedules full.
How do therapists hustle? Generally in two ways: Recruiting new marks and upselling current marks. Which do you think is easier? Yeah… this whole thing of therapists never thinking that you’ve done quite enough work, gone quite deep enough into your issues yet… yeah, starting to make more sense now, isn’t it?
Google “terminating therapy” or a similar phrase and notice how many articles – written by therapists, of course – say that you should not quit therapy without first discussing it with your therapist. That’s so they can talk you into staying for three or four “termination sessions” during which they find some bullshit reason why you need stick around for a year.
Google “unconscious fiscal convenience” too. Yeah, there’s even a name for this dynamic.
Also, there is a niche market of therapists offering other therapists help to build their practices, for a fee of course. This indicates just how precarious many therapists’ financial situations really are 1) because there is a market for such a service and 2) so many therapists have the time to try to fill the demand.
The challenge of making a full-time income as a therapist partly explains why so many therapists are women and work part-time. They have a partner who brings in the household’s primary income. The therapy practice brings in money for extras like vacations or kitchen re-modelling. Maybe it’s something she’s trying out because her kids are older and she has more time, and it’s way less of a drag than working for an employer. I think there is a danger of such therapists not being invested enough in their therapy practice. It’s more like a hobby to them and if it doesn’t work out, whatevs. Imagine putting your trust and your emotional well-being in the hands of someone with those motivations.
Money is one of the major reasons why I believe therapy is a con. The therapy industry presents itself as only interested in your well-being, but this is a lie. Therapists, being human, are as prone to self-interest as anyone else and it takes a lot of discipline to set self-interest aside. Most of us only do it for people we really love. Grifters don’t love their Marks, but they love the cash.