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  • Dan Stephens FFHT MCHP

Complementary Therapy Pricing

Over the past few weeks several people have come to me and asked "Why are you so much more expensive then x?", This is a question I always find hard to answer. I know why I am more expensive, but how do you say why when it may seem like you're just belittling another local therapist? Below I will look at the various reasons for pricing differences in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).

Firstly, location. Depending on where you are, the cost of living is different. If you're in a cite like Cambridge or London then you will need to charge more. When I worked in Cambridge, my business rent was £350 per week. That is just for a small room in a salon, it did not include anything else. so on top of this I needed to pay rent for somewhere to live, bills, food etc. there would be no way to pay for all this (£2350, and that is just on necessary expenses, nothing fun). The cheaper people charging £20/hour would have to massage for 30 hours per week to make this, but 25 hours massaging is actually the sensible amount to make sure you have a long career in the field without having RSIs or burn out. then you would need to work extra if you want to have a life outside of home or work. Plus the paperwork side of running your own business. This would mean working probably 70+ hours per week. This is no way to live, it is not sustainable. it also does not include some of the below points.

Secondly, training. A good therapist will have had extensive in person training, which does not come cheap. (massage:£1000, aromatherapy £1500, reflexology £1500 etc) Then every year they have to do Continuing Practitioner Development (CPD) courses. Generally you need to do between 16-25 hours per year. these usually cost around £150 for 8 hours. If you are a multi-disciplined therapist then this may be higher for different professional associations, as some require you do the required hours for each different therapy you practice! this can quickly add up to over £1000/year. So far, I have spent around £12000 on my education, and this number goes up each year. Many therapists I have met trained online, by distance learning or in very short courses. These are quick and cheap but are not acceptable as far as I am concerned. If your course does not meet basic industry standards then it is not worth doing. Sadly, these people then go out and charge next to nothing because they don't have course costs to recuperate and their experience and knowledge is not quite up to the required standard to treat the public.

Next, Products. Depending on what treatments are provided, different products are needed. For aromatherapy you will need essential oils, carrier oils, hydrosols etc. These very in price wildly (depending on company used to oil required-rose oil for instance is usually around £50 for 2.5ml whereas sweet orange oil is only about £2 for 10ml!), but I will always make sure I am using the best quality oils for my clients. I do this with all treatments, from the ear candles I use (Biosun, best in the business, usually costing about £10/pair, you can get the cheaper versions for less then £5 per pair, to me they just aren't as effective) to my aromatherapy products. At all times I need to have around about £1000 worth of products in stock.

There is also professional memberships and insurance to think about, personally I am a member of 2 associations, which costs me around £300 per year. If you add a modality that isn't covered by your association, you need to be a member of somewhere that does cover it which would take the cost up further!

Lastly, think about all the things that are needed for each treatment, aromatherapy for example:

Essential oils, Carrier oils, massage couch, couch cover, towels, cleaning supplies, measuring containers, laundry supplies and the list goes on.

If after all this you still don't know why many therapists have to charge a seemingly high amount, then please reread this, we train for years to qualify, we train further every year afterwards and then have to run businesses and have lives, which especially in this day and age costs more and more. Remember, you get what you pay for, a highly skilled therapist should be charging £40-60/hour (in my area at least), if something is less than that, check into qualifications and professional memberships, or you may end up having to pay the higher fees for someone to fix what a cheap therapist has done.


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