In response to my last post, one reader commented that when therapists come from a position of “bounty”, they will be willing to reduce their fees for clients who can’t pay. Whether you agree with this statement, it suggests that the therapist must first have “enough”, whatever that may mean in his or her personal circumstances, maybe even more than just enough, in order to feel bounteous. Therapists must feel that their own needs are being met and that they have enough left over to give to their clients. This seems unquestionably true, although I suspect my views on “enough” and “bounty” differ from this reader’s meaning. I also believe that “enough” will be a different amount for different people; it’s not a case of one-size-fits-all.
My decision to become a therapist was not based on a drive to help people, although I enjoy that aspect of it very much. I pursued training as a psychotherapist because I could think of no other career that would fascinate me so much, hold such personal meaning and also earn a decent living. I wanted to marry, have children, own a home and provide for my family. At that time, I lived in Los Angeles on the west side of town; I went to graduate school and built my practice there. Life in West Los Angeles was and still is expensive. “Enough” to afford those things in that area meant earning quite a lot of money; even if I had charged very high fees with a full practice, I never could have done it alone. Ours was a dual-income family, as were most families we knew at that time. A therapist living in a small town in Indiana might need quite a lot less than I did in order to have “enough”.