Dragons are renown for being avaricious creatures who love gold. they are also renown for their wisdom and knowledge which they may or may nor share freely and willingly. (How you view dragons depends,of course, on your experience of them.) These traits left me thinking about my own careers as both a psychiatric nurse and a counsellor in private practice. As a nurse I’ve seen many patients over the years. And I have made no charge because I’m working in the NHS. Which is free. Except that it is not. It is funded from our taxes. More or less generously according to your view of the party in power at any given time. Similarly my salary is pre determined. If I’m just starting out I get £X. After a few years and some experience I get £Y. (Along with more headaches in my experience!) No “real” money changes hands. I get the same money if I’m a conscientious nurse or if I’m lazy.
As a counsellor in private practice I am in a very different position. I have many more overheads. Supervision. Membership of a professional body. Going to conferences. Personal Indemnity insurance. And so on. Nobody pays for these essentials. That’s before I’m paid for my knowledge and training. When I’m sitting quietly in my chair listening to you talking, I’m working. Very hard. I’m processing your words. how you speak them. What you don’t say. And how you don’t say it! I’m also thinking about how I’m feeling. why am I feeling this way? What might that reaction tell me about you? And about us-since there’s always an Us in the room.
How do I put a financial value on this? Do I charge you nothing -because you are so needy and damaged? Do I charge you a large amount of money for the same reason? How much is my “hoard” of knowledge and experience worth? Who decides? If I charge too little will you think I must be useless and not see me? If I charge too much will you choose another therapist who will charge you less? Who decides what I’m worth?