There’s some debate in the therapy world about the value and necessity of no-show fees. On the one hand, time is money and someone who cancels at the last minute is bad for business. On the other hand, no one’s perfect. Life happens.
To charge or not to charge, that is the question!
Or is it?
For me, this is not the question at all. The better question is “What would I want someone to do if it were me?”
Coming to counseling is a tough process. It’s scary. It’s embarrassing for some. Ambiguity- the “Yeah, but” thinking we all debate in our heads- is a normal part of the change process. It’s painful to face emotions for an hour, and then for many, go back to work the rest of the day.
And as difficult as it may be form potential clients to have perfect attendance, I’m not perfect either! Though I rarely reschedule or double book, it happens. People get sick. Family issues come up. Scheduling conflicts arise. People die… Should I offer my clients money when I reschedule last minute?
Furthermore, from a big picture perspective, it’s by no means the end of the world when people no-show or late-cancel/reschedule sometimes. It gives me a chance to grab a bite to eat, do some paperwork, respond to emails, and offer grace.
Over time, offering this grace (not charging a no show) has got me such a solid client base, that I don’t have to sweat that the occasional no-show. Perhaps this is not for everyone, but it’s worked for me.
The way I see it there are four options when it comes to charging or not…
Option 1: Attempt to charge the client and they never pay you. This ends the relationship and is a waste of time
Option 2. Charge and they never come back or harbor resentment and end counseling short
Option 3. Don’t charge, they don’t come back. Your loss (not terrible). You can feel good about offering grace to others.
Option 4. Don’t charge. Be super empathetic. Use it as an opportunity to build empathy, rapport and trust. Have an awesome long term relationship.
In conclusion, client success, and my professional reputation, are both defined by the strength of my relationship with clients. Though I want to be as helpful as possible, I’d rather form a relationship with a client that last three years rather than three one-hour sessions.
That’s why I’ve never charged a no-show fee and I never will!
One final note: A special thank you to all my clients who may be reading this. Thanks for always offering grace with me as well! I appreciate that we can have a relationship that is based in forgiveness and mutual respect!