Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Being Paid To Counsel

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I'm graduating this coming Saturday. Not only that, but I'm taking a contract counselor position at Turning Point, the YFC Counseling Center that I've been doing my practicum at this year. Even though I only plan to take on 5-10 clients per week max during the summer (I want to recover from school), it's still pretty exciting. Yesterday was a landmark day as I set up an appointment for next week with my first paying client. Turning Point has a reasonable sliding scale for paying fees (the less income you make, the less of a fee you pay) so I'm not sure I'll be making lots of money or anything but it will be help put food on the table.

Although I'm happy to finally be able to make some money off of this counseling thing, I struggle with the idea of charging for my services. Should I really be charging to minister to people? It feels kind of wrong. When I read Proverbs, I hear Lady Wisdom offering words of wisdom freely. I've been offering counseling for free for 2 years now, what is so different now that I will have a piece of paper? Also, I wonder, are my skills and abilities actually worth anything yet? I'm still so new at this. I wonder how awkward it will be to charge people for a session where not a lot of progress is made. And I wonder how God feels about it all.

I wish I could offer counseling for free. If I had a salary for instance (like a pastor), at least it would feel better. Unfortunately many counselors who are on salary are often pressured to take on more clients then is healthy or wanted so salary isn't the perfect idea either. The terrible thing is that even if I could offer free counseling, I'm not sure that it would be therapeutically wise as its been proven that clients who don't have to pay anything work less hard, skip more appointments, and report less desirable outcomes. Client who pay have way more motivation to put more effort into their own healing, to make changes in themselves. Turning Point used to offer free counseling, but they began to charge because they thought it would be better for the overall good of those they ministered to. So I guess I'll be stuck with charging for my services. Hopefully I will get more comfortable with it . . . but not too comfortable.

May Light increase!


Stacey said...

Hi Mark,
First, congratulations! I didn't know Saturday was the big graduation! I know how long and hard you have worked toward this goal. As for your question about getting paid to minister to others, I was looking for a verse in 1. Cor. so I tried googling it and found this post that you might find interesting. It's regarding the same question a pastor asks but it had the verse I was looking for and I think its relevant: http://www.carm.org/questions/pastor_paid.htm

Also, I can say from experience, someone who went thru counseling, that it was surely worth every penny. And completely changed my life, and I credit it and my very compassionate counselor (Jim Olthuis--I think you read his book?) with where I am today.... which is one pretty happy girl!

For what its worth, I think you're going to be an amazing counselor. I've enjoyed getting to know you better thru the miles on this blog. You're gonna be alright kid!

Michele said...

Congrats on graduation Mark! And congrats on the position you chose to take!

Even counsellors have to live. In order to live, we need money (unless you're off the grid, make your own material for clothing and grow your own food, but even then you need seeds!). If the money didn't come from people paying for your services, it would come from someone else donating to you so that you could do your job. Either way, you would get "paid". I agree that there is more motivation to put effort into couselling when you're paying for it. I think people should pay something...even if it's not much. I like the whole sliding scale idea. That way counselling is still accessible to everyone but you still get paid something to do it.

It would be lovely if everything in life were free so that we could do the things we feel called to do and not have the awkwardness of charging for it. But really, what kind of people would we be if that were the case? Would we take everything for granted if we didn't have to work for it? I think we would.

I just know you will be an awesome counsellor. You are worth every penny you earn and more! The reason I know this is because God has called you to this place and I don't believe that He would put you where you are if He didn't know that you would make it work!

Anonymous said...

Way to go Mark!!


Jay Boaz said...

I knew this would be something you'd struggle with, as I know you'd love to just be able to help anyone without having to charge a dime. It boils down to you and your family need to live too, I think.

I find that if I don't charge for recreation services I get less participants. I could have run curling for free, but I charged $10 so they would take showing up a little more seriously. I put the money towards their wind-up so it all worked out just fine.

Congrats on the graduation, and good luck with your new gig! Does this mean you're leaving the OG or are you going to stay on once a week for the extra cash?


Dayna said...

congratulations mark! i have so much respect for you... and now seeing how you worked so hard these past years, both at school, and to support your family, that respect only grows. you followed God's call when some would have said it was too hard or the wrong timing. Turning Point will be blessed (and already has been) to have you on board! and I bet your family will enjoy have a non-student-daddy/husband! Congrats!