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Saturday, March 19, 2005

I'm Just Sayin' . . .

In the various places where my psychotherapy practice is advertised, one of the taglines in my ad is "sliding fee scale available." Therapy is ungodly expensive, for most people, and insurance doesn't cover nearly enough. For example, most insurance plans, even the good ones, don't cover marriage counseling, if the therapist is ethical and actually bills it as marriage counseling. I am grateful that my practice is busy enough, and that my husband is well-employed enough, that I am able to reduce rates for many people who would not otherwise be able to afford therapy. I have absolutely no qualms, no hesitation, no resentment about doing this. I felt called to my work almost as I imagine a minister feels called to his or her work, and out of gratitude for that calling, and absolute love of my job, I am happy to adjust my fees when the need arises.

I used to work in agencies where clients seeking reduced fees were required to bring in tax returns, bills, and all manner of personal documentation to prove that they were, in fact, as financially strapped as they claimed to be. I don't require anything like that. That's invasive and embarrassing. I use an honor system; whatever you tell me about your finances is what we'll work with in negotiating the fee. And frankly, I have faith that the clients who end up on my couch are the ones that God intends end up there, and I'll let God work out the finances. There are those people who happily, easily pay the ungodly hourly rates which are reasonable and customary in our area, and they help balance out those who must pay a lower rate or nothing at all. It all works out.

Today, we helped some neighbors move. We like them a lot, and it was a very enjoyable job, just spending the time with them, and it wasn't terribly sad because they're still nearby. But, it was exhausting, as moving always is. So as it's getting near dinner time, we're both too tired to cook, can't even think of what we'd cook if we weren't too tired, you know how that is. So we decide we'll go out. Last week, Jif and I went out for an almost shamefully expensive, extravagant meal. It was our anniversary celebration, so we splurged. Tonight, we didn't want to splurge. We wanted good, quick and cheap. Hmmmm, where to go.

"Oh, I know just where! Let's try that new place over by LG's pediatrician's office. I have these new marriage counseling clients, and they said they go there every single Sunday, they love it so much. Plus, it must be really inexpensive, because they don't have much money. I'm seeing them for half my usual rate, because that's all they can afford." Jif says sounds good to him, so we three stroll into this nice, new "grille," ready to eat good an' cheap. BUT...

The lowest entree price on the freakin' menu is $32.00.

Mr. and Mrs. Help-me-i'm-po' EAT THERE EVERY SUNDAY.

I ordered soup and salad. A phrase I've recently seen another blogger use comes to mind ... "that shit ain't right."

I'm just sayin' . . .

file under: &I'm Just Sayin'

15 heads are better than one . . .

Anonymous mrtl said...

Maybe the reason they can't afford to give you more is because they eat there. pshaw - Sorry to hear you're being taken advantage of; it's the kind of thing that makes some cynical and unwilling to continue being nice. Hopefully that doesn't happen with you, sweetie.

 
Blogger Susie said...

yea, mrtl, that's what I figured. But like I always say, one should never let the quest for a healthy marriage and mental health get in the way of EATING! No, I actually find it rather amusing; Jif and I just joked about it:)

 
Blogger Kassi said...

Susie:
I thought I would respond to your question on your blog regarding the "SNOOG".
My husband, when he first met Kimi thought she was very "snuggly" and that little name transformed to "snoogly"..then "Snoog"...we've been calling her that ever since. Now we have her declaring "I'm a Snoog" everywhere she goes. Thank you for reading my blog, I am enjoying your writing as well!

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

32.00 for 1 meal? My goodness! There a place I like to take my kids on some Sundays...because its yummy and they all you can eat pasta on Sundays for 5.95. Times that by 3 and you still dont have 32.00! And, it comes with soup or salad.
Good for you for seeing the humor in it. Im sure there are MANY people you do help that honestly cant afford it without your giving heart.

Lawbrat

 
Anonymous stringmuse said...

Well, you got your health food and you got your mental health food ....

I would never spend $32 on anything that wasn't chocolate.

 
Blogger LadyBug said...

Susie, you're a better person than I am for not getting pissed about that. I think it would definitely have affected that doctor/patient relationship, for me.

Of course, having seen the way you've responded to other negative situations, I should've expected as much from you. You're definitely a "high road" kind of gal.

May God bless you for who you are and what you do.

 
Blogger LadyBug said...

Oh, and...

Is Gumby giving himself a breast exam?

 
Blogger Susie said...

lawbrat, thanks for the kind things you say. Yea, that was one pricey spur-of-the-moment eatin' place. I wish I'd had the nerve to get up and leave after we saw the menus, but I didn't this time. Soup was good, though:)

stringmuse, I'm with ya; if my clients told me they couldn't pay me because they had a serious chocolate habit, I could totally understand that. Do I know you from somewhere, stringmuse? Thanks for stopping by:)

ladybug, you're too kind to me, but please don't stop. As for Gumby, well that pose is a Rohrshach test...I'm just waiting to see what YOU ALL think he's doing...ladybug says breast exam...

 
Blogger Dang Cold.. said...

Ladybug, you took the words right out of my mouth.

I don't react well to being taken advantage of but leave it to Susie to be easy going and level headed about it. $32.00 for an entre? There had better be a butt massage while I wait!! I hope those neighbours appreciate how VERY fortunate they are to have you around. You're the best, you know that?

dc

 
Blogger Susie said...

dang, you might be onto something there. Maybe there was a butt massage included with the entree, and I missed out. I'll go back there some day and check that out:) The nice things you said to me? Right backatcha!

 
Blogger butterstar said...

dude, you can TOTALLY be my sliding-scale therapist. And I promise not to eat at expensive restaurants. And tell you about it.

 
Blogger Susie said...

see, butterstar, that's all I'm sayin', just don't TELL me about it...

 
Blogger MilkMaid said...

Yep, high road kinda gal says it well.

I'd HAVE to kinda just drop in the conversation that we went for dinner at this grill on the next visit from them.

Of course, I can be passive agressive sometimes (MilkMan says bitch, I prefer passive agressive .... ) ;-)

Great blog!

 
Blogger Susie said...

hi, milkmaid, thanks for visiting, I'm glad you like it here. I just visited you, but comments wouldn't cooperate. Funny stuff over there; I like the STFU guy, and the cow pix -- saggy baby-fed here, I'm afraid. I noticed you know another "What Was I Thinking?" I didn't know of others, but I imagine it's rather a common sentiment:)

 
Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

In each of my private practices I used a sliding scale. I obtained the amounts from a book I had read on establishing a private practice. Unfortunately, the cost of everything (you example of the restaurant meal is an excellent one) kept going up but my sliding scale didn't. I only learned how inexpensive I was when I sought therapy to deal with personal issues and found that the "normal and usual" charge for similar counseling that I was doing was almost 200% of what I was charging.

 


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