Is it ethical to charge for counseling? | INFJ Forum

Is it ethical to charge for counseling?

Discussion in 'Psychology and MBTI' started by TinyBubbles, Jun 22, 2010.

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  1. TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    if you work as a counselor/psychologist/psychiatrist/any variation of the above and you charge for your services, would that be considered unethical?

    think about the people who seek out counselors- those desperate, alone, needing a friendly ear to hear them out and not judge. what you're paying for is, in some respects, a friend. except not a friend whom you trust because you've gotten to know them (and they you), but one who sells themselves as a non confrontational, non threatening impartial third entity. they've bypassed the need to get to know you by establishing themselves (and their industry) as innately trustworthy. (are they though?)

    Uh.. anyway my question is, would it be ethical to charge for counseling, if the person really needed it and you (the counselor) were in a position to offer it? if a kid was crying about his stolen bike, a friendly adult might soothe him by saying the bike was broken down and worthless anyway. in a similar fashion professional counselor's soothe the very real pains of adults by and validating them as people and enlightening them to alternative options, etc. Without this reassurance - without someone to simply listen and not judge - the kid might turn to stealing/drugs/etc, and the adult might take similar inappropriate actions. yet the counseling industry is extremely lucrative, and psychiatrists charge exorbitant amounts of money regularly before they'll even see a client (consider the word client too! client implies psychological distance. they are not truly "friends").
    do you see the dichotomy here? is this unethical, or merely practical? people have to earn a living, after all, and trained counselors surely deserve some form of compensation for the good they do (and they do), so why not have it be in terms of financial remuneration?

    would love your thoughts~!
     
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  2. AUM

    AUM The Romantic Scientist

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    I don't see charging for counseling as unethical. Sometimes people need to hear out their problems in a unbiased and detached matter, something that families are not always very eager to give to their ill loved one. Counselors(psychologists or psychiatrists) are(or should be) knowledgeable of the various diseases and mental illnesses that the human mind suffers from, which should give the patient a way to alleviate their symptoms and mental conditions.

    Although talking with a psychologist or psychiatrist does not lead to a bonding relationship, the psychologist can become quite a potent tool for the patient because it allows for the patient to reveal and talk her way through what's going on her/his mind, without any remorse that she/he might be judged on those thoughts. I do take in mind though that most people are not always very trusting of talking with strangers about their problems even though counselors have a strict code of confidentiality, ideally, these service professions should provide the patient with new ways to analyze and potentially cure some of her inflictions that brought her to such place.

    In regards to their compensation, yes, they do charge quite an exuberant amount of money for each session and there are always methods for people of this profession to act in a unethical matter. But think about it, in order for someone to become a psychologist they have to go through a tough time in school. At least a Ph.d is necessary for you to have your own office. Or what about the psychiatrist, in addition of getting a bachelors, they also have to go to medical school. In my opinion, they deserve such compensation because they have merited their way through.
     
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    #2 AUM, Jun 22, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2010
  3. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    Counselling is a skill that takes years to develop and is relatively rare. So anyone who is willing and able (qualified) to counsel will be in demand. The only way to meet this demand and maintain a reasonable lifestyle is to charge for the service. Counsellors have got mortgages and have to eat like anyone else. It's more than ethical - it's just that counsellors charge.
     
  4. Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    Sure have to pay the bills somehow.
     
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  5. Matariki

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    I believe counselers should be government funded, but the choice should always be available to those that want to set up their own private practices and set their own prices.

    Competition is good, even amongst counselors.
     
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  6. tovlo

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    1) I think you may underestimate what a counselor offers. They are not essentially a paid "friend." They offer resources and tools that the person experiencing psychological difficulty would not likely otherwise have access to or the skill to implement. The service a counselor offers goes far beyond just a pat on the back or a listening presence. Not that this in itself means it's ethical to charge for their offering, but I think it's an important distinction from the premise you set up.

    2) Do you think it's unethical for a doctor to charge for medical care? Those who come to a doctor are physically vulnerable. Do you think it's unethical for a mechanic to charge for fixing a car? Those who come to a mechanic are in need of tools and resources they do not currently have access to or the skill to use. Do you think it's unethical for a food service worker to charge for feeding you? Those who seek out food are hungry. Are you willing to go all of these other places in the consideration of the ethics involved in charging for a service someone vulnerable is in need of?

    I'm perfectly comfortable with being asked a fee in return for these services, and I see no difference between this service and any other service.

    For those simply seeking a "friend," the benefit of paying for someone to listen to them (when there are multitudes of untrained people who could also provide a social presence and listen) would not likely justify the charge. It would be better probably to seek out social environments where a friend could potentially be made. If, however, that person cannot figure out how to make a friend, then perhaps a counselor would be of service in offering them tools and skills they do not currently have access to for reaching that goal. Listening to the person would likely be a first step in understanding the problem, but it would not be the ultimate goal of the counseling. When someone is dealing with real psychological or developmental issues that they need assistance in learning how to cope with, the skill and expertise a counselor can offer is likely of great value, and worth paying for, in my opinion.
     
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  7. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Permanent Fixture

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    On hotkebab's comment, it would be nice if everyone had access to government funded counselling -- though many (conservatives and especially libertarians) are inclined to disagree for the reason that the funding that goes into paying psychiatrist for their work has to come from somewhere and often that is increased taxes.

    The future utopia envisioned by Star Trek is essentially communism, now that I think about it.
    Yes, this is true. Therapist bills tend to be high enough that their services are inaccessible on a regular basis to at least 50% of the population of any developed country. It does take at least 3 years of university (with corresponding high tuition) to be able to become one, which gives society three options. The first is to subsidize or pay for higher education (with a corresponding high increase in taxes) which would lower the amount phychiatrists and other professionals would charge and allow the government to employ public therapists at a lower cost, the second is to subsidize or pay for public counsellors which would increase taxes, though not so dramatically and allowed for tiered services (private practices would compete against public ones, and typically provide a higher level of service but at cost), and the third is to leave it as it is.
     
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  8. bamf

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    Yes, I think they should be compensated for their work and their schooling, but I also think that it is a service that should be readily available to all people who want it. How to balance the two? I don't know.
     
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  9. Billy

    Billy Contents Under Pressure
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    As soon as the schooling for it is free it will be unethical.
     
  10. Wyote

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    They are providing a skilled service, not a friendship or jolly pat on the back with a sympathetic ear. Any confusion between the two is the fault of the consumer. Also, often times people seeking counselors have much deeper issues than simply being lonely, and the methods required to sort them out can be equally deep and complex. It's worth the money, assuming the person has the proper skills and knowledge.
     
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  11. Ria

    Ria Snow White over the ocean

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    There has to be a boundary of professionalism as if counseling is seen as "friendship", then it is harder to detach. A fee seems unfortunate because it gives the service a less heartfelt and sincere vibe, but as often times an unbiassed form of intervention is best, it fits to have a fee. But yes I can see both sides of how it looks :)
     
  12. deadred

    deadred Community Member

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    April. I have to assume you are talking about a professional setting. It is absolutely ethical to charge for such services. It doesn't mean you can't reduce the fee or give away care when you feel it necessacary. You would be surprised how much free care is given. Many therapists and even Psyschiatrists who work in an orgnized setting such as in a clinic are often not among those who make the rules for this kind of thing. A new Doc who comes to a position in an older, established clinic, is expected to follow the protocols put in place by those who founded the clinic. The more Docs, the more institutional the clinic becomes, making it difficult to "break" the rules. There is always politics in such places.
     
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  13. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Permanent Fixture

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    How so?

    I can be a garbage collector for municipal government, having taken no formal schooling on how to be a garbage collector, and yet still get paid. I am providing a service to society, while being compensated by the effort put forth.

    I don't see how this would be different then being a psychologist who underwent schooling even if they didnt pay for it. They still must have expended effort to obtain their Ph.D's as well as expend effort to provide their services.

    I must ask you to back up your assertions a little better.
     
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    #13 Zero Angel, Jun 26, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2010
  14. Faye

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    Psychiatrists are essentially doctors, and emotional closeness with them is not necessary, though it is important that they are nice people (bother outwardly and inwardly). Is is unethical for doctors to change for their services? Well, if they didn't, we wouldn't have any doctors, so the ethical consideration is kind of a non-issue. The same applies to counselors.

    There are people who need psychological, psychiatric, and medical help in this world, but the world doesn't run on love and someone has to foot the bill. People generally deserve more than they are able to receive medically (think globally or of society in general), but there is no way to get these people treatment without paying for it.

    There are a few exceptions. We should probably ease patents on certain drugs to allow them to be produced more cheaply generically, such as anti-aids drugs for people in less wealthy nations. That is one difficult battle though if anyone were to ever try to fight it.
     
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