Things to think about while working on a possible new project

The other day I received two emails which turned out to maybe be pivotal. One from someone I worked on the Jung and feminism book asked me what I am working on these days. Good question. The other was an invitation to apply for a multidisciplinary retreat to develop a next step in our work - intimidating and intriguing. Both emails set me off on a lot of reflection and a mixture of excitement and anxiety. 

As is my habit when an new possibility is gestating, I spent time today cleaning out old files and ran across  this piece on the state  of Post-Jungian psychoanalysis and  psychotherapy by Andrew Samuels. Which led me into the archives of this blog where I retrieved the following post from more than 8 years ago. Still relevant too, I believe. 

It’s time to stop moaning about attacks on psychotherapy, whether it is about the managed care crisis in the United States or a media onslaught in the UK. The managed care situation, in which insurers have declined to pay for long-term psychotherapy, is a disaster in one sense. But it is also a terrific opportunity for American Jungian analysts to redefine their professional identities, and also, in my view, to do something that will be good for their souls. As fees in the United States had got too high, and hence the incomes of some of the analysts had become too large. This was not just a Jungian problem, it is also a psychoanalytic one. It has to do with the professional self-image of the psychotherapists being aligned with the professional self-image and hence income expectations of gynaecologists, ophthalmologists, surgeons and the like. Is that really where analysts are, in terms of their location in culture and in society? Are we not in fact more healthily and usefully and accurately aligned with pastoral counsellors, ministers of religion, social workers, academics, and so forth? I think that if fees are cut, people in the United States will continue to seek out Jungian and indeed other forms of depth therapy in spite of the fact that the bill is not being picked up - or at least not very significantly being picked up - by an insurance company.

Samuels is right that a major consequence of psychotherapy aligning itself with the medical model has been this expectation that we should earn what medical specialists earn. Now whether or not what they earn is excessive is another issue altogether and one I don't want to tackle just now. And yes, I know all about the economics of malpractice insurance costs and the expense of an office staff and all of that, none of which accounts for the fact that every surgeon I know has a bigger house and far more expensive car than I will ever have or even want and that means that there is plenty left over after all that onerous overhead is covered.

Many of us speak of doing "soul work"  but we do not see ourselves aligned with those other soul workers and their less lucrative salaries and fees. Greed is one of the great hidden elements in this whole mess and it is not one that we, collectively, want to face. It's hard not to want more and better things -- a nice  house, a new car, the means to travel. It's harder still to find a sense of what is enough and not keep reaching for more, past the point of enough into greed. Somehow this all fits together with an emerging movement toward sustainability -- determining how much is enough to have a reasonably good life while still living within the means of where we are and who we serve.

Very little is written for therapists and by therapists about fees and money, about their meaning and our relationship to them. How to find that balance between charging enough without it being either too much or too little? How to align that with the value of what we do? Is therapy charged at $200/hr better or worth more than an hour billed at $50.00? What is enough? What happens to us, to our work when the treatment contract actually involves a third party, the insurance company, and that party is not accountable to either therapist or patient? 

Now back to work on that new project.


© Cheryl Fuller, 2016. All  rights reserved.