|Clinicians Digest Jan/Feb|
By Garry Cooper
Recession: Boom or Bust for Therapists?
Does the recession mean hard times or boom times for therapists? We know that the income and job loss associated with a recession cause anxiety, depression, and loss of self-esteem, so it seems likely that the need for therapy will increase. But that need won't necessarily translate into more clients.
Rising unemployment means that some people—often the ones who need therapy most—won't be able to afford it. An article in the October 7 Wall Street Journal reports that therapists around the country are experiencing more cancellations. As unemployment grows, many clients, faced with the loss of both income and insurance, may consider therapy a discretionary expense and cut back on it.
Already, according to the Journal, clients are asking to renegotiate fees. Some therapists have started charging less and shortening their sessions. Others report more frequent phone calls from clients in lieu of office visits.
Nevertheless, some therapists are reporting an increasing number of clients. "My impression is that, in today's recession, the need for more career, financial, and crisis counselors has actually expanded," says therapist and business coach Lynn Grodzki. Therapists, she insists, are in a good position to market their services because they can help clients with anxiety, stress, sleeplessness, and related issues, including marital problems, resulting from the economic stressors. Supporting her contention, an article in the October 19 Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that therapists are seeing more unemployed executives and people worried about their shrinking portfolios.
Although it sounds counterintuitive to spend more money on marketing during a recession, that's exactly what Grodzki advises therapists to do. They should start networking with human resource departments, lawyers, financial advisors, and accountants—anyone who's hearing about the personal pain the recession is causing. In times like this, such professions may replace physicians as primary referral sources. "Every time the market moves up or down," Grodzki insists, "opportunities open up for those with a service-oriented practice."