Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice - Question of Payment
3. THE PRACTICE OF PSYCHOTHERAPY
III. The Question of Payment
This section deals masterfully with a question with which every therapist must grapple, the question of payment. This supplement to the Course has presented a very lofty view of psychotherapy as a holy encounter between two brothers in which “the room becomes a temple, and the street a stream of stars” (2.VII.8:4) How, then, does the subject of money fit with this lofty vision? This section gives a series of profound answers to that question.
Paragraph 1. “No one can pay for therapy, for healing is of God and He asks for nothing.” (1:1) Yet “even an advanced therapist has some earthly needs while he is here.” (1:3) So how do we reconcile those two statements?
If healing comes from God, and He asks for no payment, healing does not have a price tag; it is God’s gift. If payment is required, you are actually paying for something else. The “something else” is to help the therapist better serve God’s plan for salvation. Everything in this world is used by the Holy Spirit to help carry out that plan, including money. So while therapists are here on this earth, they will be given the money/means to fill their earthly needs, so they can continue to serve without distraction.
What, then, is money? Is it good? Is it evil? It is actually NOTHING, just like every other thing on this earth and this planet is nothing. None of it is real. We have learned that only love is real. Yet money has a purpose for the healing of God’s Son in the illusion. It can be used as a tool by the Holy Spirit to support God’s plan. While here, each one will be given what he needs to stay until his part has been accomplished.
Paragraph 2. “Only an unhealed healer would try to heal for money, and he will not succeed to the extent to which he values it.* Nor will he find his healing in the process.” (2:1-2) Healing cannot be secondary to the acquisition of money. “Will ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.” Therefore, healing must be first in the mind of the Son of God, and all else will come after.
There will be those of whom the Holy Spirit asks some payment for His purpose. There will be those from whom He does not ask. It should not be the therapist who makes these decisions. Understand that there is a difference between “payment” and “cost”. “To give money where God’s plan allots it has no cost.” (2:7) Yet “to withhold it from where it rightfully belongs has enormous cost.” (2:8)
This is true of patient and therapist. The patient does this by not paying the therapist when the Holy Spirit guides him thus. The therapist does this by extracting money from a patient from whom the Holy Spirit is not asking payment. The therapist who would do this loses the name of healer, for he does not understand what healing is and is not listening to the Holy Spirit, thus he cannot share either healing or His message.
Paragraph 3. “The therapists of this world are indeed useless to the world’s salvation.” (3:1) Demanding money from their patients renders them useless. All they are really doing is offering the patient an illusion of help in exchange for the illusion of money. This “healing” does not come from the heart. The focus is from the “wallet” first. Think about the true nature of a gift, as compared with a demand.
In this scenario the cost is great. The patient is spending his time and pouring out his heart to a therapist who is there to add another worshiper to his shrine, not to genuinely make available his heart and the Holy Spirit’s to the patient. A “bought” relationship cannot offer the only gift whereby all healing is accomplished:
“Forgiveness, the Holy Spirit’s only dream, must have no cost.”
If it does cost, then God’s Son is crucified yet again! Is this how the dream of sin is to end again?
The only thing that can set him free is a genuine relationship in which he is given true forgiveness. Someone must really care about him -- and care more than money! Someone must offer him such pure love that it lifts the heavy burden of guilt from his shoulders, and places it upon the yoke of Christ. How can a “bought” relationship accomplish this? How can forgiveness be “purchased”? Those relationships simply ask for more sacrifice, for more of what the patient is trying to escape. Demanding payment for psychotherapy, then, actually deprives psychotherapy from being therapeutic.
Paragraph 4. “The right to live is something no one need fight for. It is promised him, and guaranteed by God. Therefore it is a right the therapist and patient share alike.” (4:1-2) In an earlier section (2.V.1.), it said those “in the world” believe that in order “to be safe, one must control the unknown.” Yet this section says that the right to live is “promised” and “guaranteed” by God. When you are open to receiving the promises of God, you will naturally receive from Him whatever you appear to need to stay on this earth to fulfill your function.
If the relationship of patient and therapist is to be holy, “whatever one needs is given by the other; whatever one lacks the other supplies. Herein is the relationship made holy, for herein both are healed.” (4:4) “The therapist repays the patient in gratitude, as does the patient repay him. There is no cost to either. But thanks are due to both.” (4:6-8) The “lines of demarcation” are withdrawn, and all is given to each or to both as needed, or even before needed.
This giving is not a grudging obligation and it entails no loss. Rather, it is an expression of gratitude. Each one feels set free by the other from “long imprisonment and doubt.” (4:9) In this state of overwhelming gratitude, all they can think of is finding a way to express it. They do so by filling whatever need the other one has, whether that need be emotional, spiritual or material. And who could possibly imagine that such a relationship could be bought? (4:10)
Paragraph 5. “It has well been said that to him who hath shall be given.” (5:1) Having leads to giving, and giving leads to receiving. And all of us “hath”, as all is given us in our creation by God. This is the law of God, not of the world. And so it is with God’s healers. They give because they have learned His Word and they understand it.
The messengers of God perform their part
by their acceptance of His messages
as for themselves,
and show they understand the messages by giving them away.
Once God’s healers have given His Word, “All that they need will thus be given them.” This, of course, includes all the money that they need.
Yet God’s healers will not have faith that all their needs will be met unless they remember that God is the One meeting them. (5:8). If they think their needs are being met by other people (rather than through other people), they will be afraid the job will be botched. Further, “If they believe they need anything from a brother, they will recognize him as a brother no longer.” (5:9) This principle is hard to deny. When you feel you need something from someone else, can you really see that person as a brother – as an equal who is like you? Is not your attention taken away from the brother and instead focused on your need of him for something he appears to possess that you do not?
When you look to a brother for fulfillment, of either material or spiritual needs, “a light goes out even in Heaven.” (5:10) Where God’s Son turns against himself thus, he can look only upon darkness. He has himself denied the light, and cannot see. Remember, God is the Light, and God is your Source.
Paragraph 6. “One rule should always be observed: No one should be turned away because he cannot pay.” (6:1) If you refuse to give healing when someone cannot pay, you are demanding; you are not giving. The true gift of healing is in the joining, in the relationship, not the wallet. Whoever comes has been sent. You must remember that no one is sent by accident to anyone. Relationships are always purposeful. They are always His potential temple, no matter what the relationships may have looked like before the Holy Spirit entered into them. Holy relationships are “the resting place of Christ and the home of God Himself.” (6:4)
Does this mean then that no one will pay for your services, for your time and effort and learning and understanding that you so freely share to the exclusion of all else? Certainly not. In gatherings it is perfectly acceptable to offer a basket for donations, or to set a fee, or to allow those who cannot pay the full amount to pay what they can offer. The only important thing here is to not turn away anyone who cannot pay.
EVERYONE has been sent for a purpose. Everyone has been sent because the relationship has the potential for being a holy relationship. The Manual for Teachers says the same thing:
There are no accidents in salvation.
Those who are to meet will meet, because together they have the potential for a holy relationship.
They are ready for each other.
This purpose for which each is sent may take different forms. One patient might be sent to provide money for the therapist. Another might be sent specifically to provide no money, and through the blessings that come, to remind the therapist (brother) “how valueless money is in comparison.” (6:8) Perhaps he was sent to teach the therapist how much he needs forgiveness.
Remember that the Holy Spirit will guide each one in every endeavor. It is not up to each to decide the purpose for which they have been sent. Whatever the purpose, it will always bless both when His purpose is honored. It will never cause one to gain at the expense of the other. In sharing, everyone must gain a blessing without cost.
Paragraph 7. “This view of payment may well seem impractical, and in the eyes of the world it would be so.” (7:1) It appears to be a conundrum. To give away all of one’s years of expensive schooling to those who do not pay for it seems ridiculous. And once one is treated for no pay, he will tell another, who will tell another. And once “the word” is out, there will be no end to the line of those who expect to be healed “for free.” Did they not line up for John the Baptist, and for Jesus?
So how would the therapist survive such a situation? Yet how much is gained by striving for illusions (and money is an illusion)? How much is lost by throwing God away? And is it possible to do so?
Surely it is impractical to strive for nothing, and to attempt to do that is impossible. So stop a while and think of this. You have perhaps been seeking for salvation without recognizing where to look. You have not found it in things like money or possessions, have you? But listen. “Whoever asks your help can show you where to look. What greater gift than this could you be given? What greater gift is there that you would give?” (7:8-10)
We have been told that those who ask our help are the “bringers of salvation,” the salvation we ourselves have been seeking. Thus helping them will lead us out of this conundrum and all such. And what could paper strips and metal discs bring that could compare more favorably than that? Yet we are still left with some questions.
Paragraph 8. “Physician, healer, therapist, teacher, heal thyself.” (8:1) And how is this accomplished? “Many will come to you carrying the gift of healing, if you so elect.” (8:2) The Holy Spirit never refuses an invitation to enter and abide with you. And it is through your patients, your brothers, that he will enter. He will give you endless opportunities to open the door to your salvation, for such is His function. And He will also tell you exactly what your function is in every circumstance and at all times.
When a patient comes to you, it is really the Holy Spirit coming, answering your “invitation to enter and abide with you.” (8:3) When a patient knocks at your door, it is really your own salvation that has come knocking. (8:4) When a patient holds out his hand to you, it is really the Christ in you asking for you to accept Him. So do not turn your patient away. Let him in whether he bears material rewards or not. Remember how much pain there appears to be in the world and how simple God’s Plan is for healing that pain. Practice forgiveness in all things, in all ways, and with all.
“Whoever He sends to you will reach you, holding out his hand to his Friend. Let the Christ in you bid him welcome, for that same Christ is in him as well. Deny him entrance, and you have denied the Christ in you. Remember the sorrowful story of the world, and the glad tidings of salvation. Remember the plan of God for the restoration of joy and peace. And do not forget how very simple are the ways of God (8:6-11):
You were lost in the
darkness of the world until you asked for light.
And then God sent His Son to give it to you.”
*Just as to whatever extent he comes to believe that anger will bring him nothing that he wants, he is saved. Or to the extent he believes that attack will not bring protection, he is saved. GOD IS.