022: Therapist Money Scripts: How Therapists Can Move from Money Shame and Financial Burnout to Awareness

June 17, 2024
The Therapist Burnout Podcast Cover Art

Have you ever been told that you’re ‘bad with money’ or that your career in therapy won’t pay the bills? Are you feeling burned out financially?

This self-fulfilling prophecy can seriously hold me back. In my latest podcast, I dive into the money scripts that keep therapists like me from building wealth.

I explore the impact of money scripts on my financial success and highlight three key money scripts that commonly affect therapists. I also share strategies for overcoming them. I emphasize how societal messages around women and marginalized populations, the undervaluation of mental health professionals, and the stigma around financial success play a role in my financial struggles. By challenging these money scripts and reframing my beliefs about money, I can find empowerment and achieve greater financial stability and success.

Grab my guide here

Links to my free 20-minute consult, and the rest of my free stuff: 


Speaker A: This is the finding Joy after Burnout podcast, a podcast for therapists and mental health professionals. Together, we unravel burnout and find our road back to joy. Here’s your host, Doctor Jen Blanchette.

Speaker B: Hello, therapist. Welcome back to the podcast. If you’ve noticed in your podcast player, the name of the podcast has changed, by the way. So it is the therapist worn out podcast now and still kind of similar themes. But I think it’s going to help more therapists find the podcast, and you can help with that. So certainly just share it with a friend. Share. If you’ve gotten value from the podcast, then share it with someone you think could use it as well. All right, so I’m going to jump right into our topic today. So we’re going to unpack money scripts in the therapy profession. That’s our topic. And I really think this is an important one because I think we can’t really change what we’re doing either with if you’re going to quit your practice, if you want to make more money in your practice, you want to launch a practice, or you’re just trying to get a new job, the way we think about money and the scripts or schemas that we have about our money are going to influence everything. So I’m just going to go over three top ones in my mind. I don’t know if they are the top ones. I’m going to talk about three money scripts that keep therapists from making wealth. Number one is the socialization of women and marginalized populations. We don’t get the education about financial literacy that we need. Historically, it, we’ve been positioned as quote unquote bad with money. Women don’t understand money. Women go into careers that quote unquote don’t make money. So of course, we believe that we don’t deserve to make money because we’re told that we’re not going to make money. I’m sure we all know what a self fulfilling prophecy is. If we are told this story, if the schema has been told to us in childhood, then we internalize it. And so I think we really don’t have to make a lot of sense out of, oh my gosh, I have so much mind drama over raising my fees. Or, oh, like this job is only going to bring in $45,000 a year when I need at least $80,000 a year. That’s just math. And the reason why the job is a low salary or you don’t want to raise your fee is because you don’t believe that you can make more money because it’s been told to you for your whole life. So we don’t really have to, like, unearth so much stuff. It just makes sense that we believe that. And so I think it just becomes easier when it’s like, oh, yeah, well, it makes a lot of sense. If I’ve been told this my whole life that I would have internalized this belief that it doesn’t, it’s not going to happen for me because I haven’t seen it happen for other women in my life. So. And also just want to highlight some research findings that women tend to live longer than men, have shorter work tenures, and that’s due to, you know, needing to care for children in the home or needing to do some other kind of caregiving, having lower earnings and lower levels of pension or survivor benefits. So there’s also a huge gap from the research on financial literacy for women. So women aren’t as literate financially as men. I wanted to tell you a little bit of a story of my brother who, when I told him that I was going to major in psychology, he told me, oh, I guess you’re going to work at the psychology factory then, because you’re not going to make any money anywhere. I don’t know how many times he told me that, because I have four degrees in psychology and I was somewhat of a professional student because I really struggled with what I wanted to do, what I was going to become, and have always been a little bit unsettled in my career path. Honestly, if I really think through it, probably because, you know, it didn’t really, the exchange didn’t make a lot of sense for me. I wanted to do psychology and be in that field because it was interesting to me and because I thought that I was good at it, but it didn’t financially make a lot of sense. So I think I was always trying to figure out how can I make money in this? And I often think about my first job, which I took in 2001 at 21, working for a residential treatment center for teen boys, making $7 an hour. And that was just slightly above minimum wage. Maybe it was minimum wage at that time. And I was. I took that job, like, right before I got. I took that job right before I graduated. So I think I was a junior. Are you a junior in college or is that just in high school? Oh, my gosh, I’m so old. I don’t remember when, like, junior and senior happens. Anyways, it was my third year, my bachelor’s junior. Are you a junior? I’m gonna have to google something. Oh, my gosh. Anyways, you can laugh at me while you’re listening to this, not knowing about this stuff. Okay, so all of these societal messages from our family, from generations, you know, we have examples of generations of women before us that didn’t make money. I think of my grandmother who, you know, she got to work at JC Penney’s and make a little money on the side, and that was like a huge deal for her. My mom was really the first person in her family who had a career as a nurse. So it really hasn’t been that long that women have held money. I love Rachel Rogers book, we should all be millionaires. It really talks about the historical lens around finances and women and how this is new for us. We haven’t held money like we had in previous generations. We haven’t held money like we are now as compared to previous generations. So I think we just need to consider this is new. And so likely the beliefs that have been passed down to us are because historically, women have not had money. So, of course, the roles they had in society were largely unpaid. Caregiving, unpaid for children, for whatever, I remember. So I watch called the midwife. I don’t know why. It just makes me cry, and I just love it anyway. And I remember one of the. There’s, like, district midwives there. It’s from like the fifties or sixties, and there’s nuns who aren’t paid, right? And then district nurses are paid, but not paid very much. And in one part of the show, one of the nurses was going to a rally for nurses to make more money. And one of the nuns told her, we don’t go in this for the money. We do this from our heart. And the nurse was saying, but I can’t afford my rent. And so I think there’s this dissonance with these beliefs about why we go into these careers wanting to do the work, yet not having them sustain our lives. So I think that first script is really around being bad with money. We’re not supposed to make money. All of those things come up. So the second one is the historical undervaluation of mental health professionals and our field. Historically low reimbursement rates are really driven by managed care. If we really think about the real villain, it is not other therapists. You don’t see that in therapist groups, though. It is cutthroat, y’all. There are some therapists that are just out there in those therapy streets, just reading people. It’s wrong. It is just dead wrong. So I don’t know how many people have mentioned therapy groups on Facebook are just, the wild west needs to stop. But we are often our worst enemies. Sometimes we’re a judgy bunch of people who can really look at, like, sideways, like they’re charging $200 for their sessions. Who were they to do that, just coming out of school? I don’t know. They. I don’t know what they need that $200 for. Oh, my. Oh, my heavens. Um, so I think even in grad school. So from our profession, which our professors are usually not clinicians, by the way. They are professors. Professors who have a salary. They aren’t in private practice. I think, trying to think, maybe two of my professors that I can think of off the top of my head were clinicians or practice as clinicians, even though they could. Right. But they didn’t have a private practice. They didn’t work doing therapy. And I think there was this indoctrination of the helping profession as being this, you know, we are held to this high standard of caring for the client of not, you know, it wasn’t spoken like don’t care for yourself. I mean, there, I think they did say, you know, do the self care stuff like bubble baths and. Which is like small s self care. I’m gonna do an episode on big *** self care and little s self care, because we need that. We need that. So I think the narrative that the value of our services are a certain amount, which means then we can’t meet our financial goals. Right? So if the value of my session, as stated by ex insurance company is $85, I think one of my panels when I first came out was like 88, and maybe one of them was lower, but maybe they were in the seventies or eighties, roughly like ten years ago, on the low end, and then like upwards of 100, and that’s doctoral level. And they increased a great deal. There was a lot of inflation as well. So maybe when I ended my highest panel, Washington 160, something like that. Yeah. So if they’re dictated by insurance companies, then no wonder we think that’s the value of that service, because that’s what ex insurance company is telling us it’s worth. So number two is that historical undervaluation of mental health professionals and the work. Number three is stigma around financial success for therapists. I think that really is like going into therapists being that judgy bunch and the people who make bank as therapists are bad. And often, like, we don’t even think about how women, just in general, don’t fail to negotiate our fees, our salaries, or our benefits. So I think I read some research in Rachel Roger’s book and all put that back in somewhere that men tend to negotiate their salaries for more. And we are leaving so much money on the table by not negotiating for a higher rate. So even if you’re working with insurance, you can go back to said insurance company and negotiate their rate, saying, like, hey, this panel is paying me x I need to make this amount, and I’m asking for a raise and kind of say, if I don’t get that, I’m going to have to drop this panel. So we do have negotiating power, and as well, with our salaries, we just assume, okay, they’re offering me $60,000 for this job. There’s no room for me to go higher or ask for more. So we just default to accepting what we’re given and thinking that’s what we have to deal with. That’s what we have to take. When we don’t, we can negotiate for more. So if you’re someone who’s thinking of leaving your agency job or going to another job, I just want you to think about this concept of negotiation that male identifying folks are doing it and we’re not. So I want you to think through what am I leaving on the table, and what would that income bring to me financially for my well being? How do we know how much we need? So I like to think through, do you want to have mind drama about how much you need and what you need to charge, or do you want to do the math? So we have mind drama or we have math. And really, I’d prefer you to do the math on how much you need. And it might surprise you. You know, I think I’ve told this story many times, but when I closed my practice last year, I did some simple calculations. I guess it was almost two years ago, I did some simple calculations and found out that to meet our family budget, it was only around $45 to $50,000. I needed to make, like, take home money. And so I just was empowered by that number. I was like, oh, well, I can blow that out of the water by either, you know, seeing more clients or closing down and taking a job on the open market, for example, which is took a contract, actually. And that’s what I did, and I closed my practice. Math, y’all. Just math. And I know it seems simple, but it really was really helpful to know, like, what was that number that I needed to make so I could quit? Essentially, the thing that wasn’t working for me okay, so let’s recap those top three therapy scripts that are keeping you stuck in the therapy profession financially. Number one is the socialization of women in financial literacy. We’re told throughout our lives that we’re bad with money, that we’re not going to make any money in psychology or counseling, that there’s no upward trajectory in our careers. Number two is that our services aren’t worth it. So that’s dictated by managed care. You know, they, it’s not like you’re, I think someone told me, it’s not like you’re a doctor. Like, actually I am a doctor. I’m a doctor of psychology, not a doctor of medicine. And I won’t get into people not using my title in like my current, anyway, we won’t even talk about that. People won’t use my title, but they will for a man. We won’t go there right now. Number three is the stigma around financial success for therapists. So that idea that we have, that therapists just shouldn’t make money, if they do make money, they’re bad that they shouldn’t. So I think just taking all these scripts, that they are normal, that it makes sense they’ve been passed down to us for generations. And to start to undo some of these, it’s really having to look at the ground for the. Not the groundwork, the. What word do I want? The foundation. Let’s go. Foundation for these were set in our early formative years, so it makes sense that they are maintained continuously that we believe. Okay, well, I guess that’s, that’s what they’re paying. So that’s what I take. No, we, so we have to start telling ourselves that we can do more, we can earn more, we can ask for more. And it really starts by our needs. So really starting with the math, with that calculation about your personal finances. So I’m not wanting, I’m not saying, like, go out and charge like three to $400 for your sessions. I’m not saying that. That’s probably, probably not going to work for most therapists. You’re not going to be able to get the clientele you need. I get that if you’re staying in private practice, but I know that you need more. I know I needed more to meet, just like normal expenses. I’m not talking about frivolous expenses, but, like, to maintain my 30 year old house. We needed some more money, like legit. So looking at doing the math versus having the mind drama. So grab my guide. If you haven’t grabbed a guide already, grab the guide. It’s in the show notes, and you can do those simple calculations and help yourself make some progress towards your money goals. All right, I hope you’ve gotten some value from this. I think we’re going to just dive more into these money scripts. There’s, you know, some more information I want to bring to you guys, so keep looking out for that. I’m going to have a guest on the podcast next week or the week after. I can’t remember, but I hope you’ve getting getting some out of this series on money scripts and money for therapists. Have a good one.

Speaker A: Thank you for listening to the joy after Burnout podcast. Be the first to hear new episodes by following the podcast in your podcast player. This is an informational podcast. Any information expressed by the host or guest is not a substitute for legal, medical, or financial advice.


Sign up with your email address to receive the latest on the podcast and my offerings