How Therapists Can Help Clients With Financial Problems During COVID-19

Covid-19 pandemic's outbreak has caused unprecedented health and financial crisis. The financial strain caused by the widespread crisis has disrupted the lives of everyone in the world.

People who have lost their jobs are not only struggling to pay their bills but also for the therapy with their mental health therapist. This sudden and swift change in our lives has caused fear, anxiety, depression, and a significant amount of stress.

Here is where the therapists can help their clients deal with and navigate through their financial crisis without compromising their access to mental healthcare.

These are the ways therapists can help their clients with financial difficulties.

Be Flexible

With uncertainty, unpredictability, and persistently changing situations that are far from ordinary, flexibility is crucial. Therapists must offer flexibility to clients, depending on their needs.

You may offer teletherapy services to your clients so that they can talk to you virtually, thereby adhering to the stay-at-home and social distancing protocols.

Related: Telepsychology: Ethical Guidelines of Practice for Psychologists

If your clients are front-line or essential workers who may have to work for extended hours, then you can offer them flexibility in your scheduling. It will make them feel good knowing their therapist is still available when they need you the most.

Discounted Sessions

Due to the loss of jobs and a financial crunch, clients are finding it difficult to pay their therapists. Difficulty in paying can lead to a lapse in their therapy and healthcare.

As their therapist, you may consider offering discounts for the sessions, at least temporarily. Discounted sessions for your clients would help them in getting the therapy and the help they need in such difficult circumstances.

Sliding Scale Fees

The fact that not everyone can afford to pay for their mental health therapy could make you consider a sliding scale fee.

A sliding scale rates helps make therapy affordable to people facing financial difficulties by pricing therapy according to an individual's income.

Therapists could set the sliding scale fees as per the annual U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines. You could decide the payment of your clients at the beginning of therapy and sign a document.

However, sliding scale pricing is best suited for clients without health insurance who pay in cash. But, sliding scale payment for clients with health insurance could put you at risk of insurance fraud.

Steps for setting up a sliding scale fee are as follows:

  • The typical cost of a therapy session in your area
  • The annual cost of operating your therapy practice - office rent, internet, utilities, legal and insurance fees, and other payments
  • Determine your expected yearly salary and the lowest salary you are comfortable with
  • Determine your monthly income by adding your annual costs and lowest monthly salary and divide the number by 12
  • Determine the average number of clients you see each month
  • Divide your required monthly income by the average number of clients you see each month. You can determine the minimum fee that you can charge your client per session without affecting your practice's finances.

"Pay What You Can" Sessions

You can allow a few sessions for those clients who could pay whatever they can. You might suggest a minimum payment or allow your clients to choose their own therapy fees. If possible, you could offer some free therapy sessions.

Payment Plans

If you have clients with temporary financial problems, you could design a payment plan wherein they pay only a small portion of their therapy session fee each week. They can pay the remaining balance once they are financially stable.

Financial Resources

There are overwhelming changes in our lives and a significant amount of stress due to the pandemic. People need reassurance and are unable to figure out where to find help.

Therapists must help their clients with financial resources that can assist them in these challenging times. You could provide them with a list of community and federal relief resources.

Financial hardships will restrict people from seeking therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therapists can help clients navigate through the obstacles and can alleviate stress, anxiety, and fear.

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