A qualitative exploration of the impact of the fee in psychotherapy

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O'Malley, Robert
Issue Date
BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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The purpose of this research was to investigate the impact of the fee in the therapeutic dyad. It sought to explore what the issue of the fee and monies in general, and how they are dealt with by both therapists and clients, might reveal about both parties‟ underlying dynamics. Both the symbolic and real significance of money for individuals was considered and how they may influence the fee-process and related phenomena. The research was qualitative in nature, central to which was the researcher conducting semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of five practicing, experienced, fully accredited therapists, eliciting their experiences, feelings, viewpoints and thoughts on the subject matter. The sample included therapists from a variety of theoretical and practicing orientations (for example, Humanistic, Psychodynamic, Gestalt, Jungian). It included three females and two males. The researcher transcribed the interviews verbatim, subsequently subjecting the data to a thematic analysis. These findings were somewhat in keeping with material identified in the existing literature. The findings indicate that failure to scrutinise both parties underlying dynamics around money, a topic invested with myriad personal, familial, cultural, societal and political influences, can lead to a distortion of the therapeutic dyad in ways not immediately apparent. It is recommended that literature, training and education institutions and, perhaps, professional bodies discuss what seems to be a hiatus in the profession to date. Given the constancy and centrality of the fee to the work of therapy, more guidance is needed, not least for those about to emerge from fledgling status.