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Is Career Counseling Worth It?

Engaging my services can involve a substantial outlay, and potential clients should definitely engage in a cost / benefit analysis.  But how to estimate the cost, and even harder, the value of the benefit?

Your outlay will depend on a number of factors.  First, and most important, what are you looking to accomplish by meeting with me?  Are you seeking individual guidance, or couples work?  Are you primarily interested in completing concrete tasks, such as rewriting a resume, getting networking tips, handling a tricky political issue at work, or rehearsing for job interviews?  Or are you searching for broader guidance, such as what careers to consider (whether new to the workplace or considering switching careers), how to go about a job search, how to improve communication with your partner, how to achieve a better work / life balance, how to shift from a pessimistic outlook on life to one with a realistic dose of optimism, or how to enhance your general motivation?  If you’re seeking guidance that is fairly narrow in scope, you’ll be looking at anywhere from one to several sessions.  The bigger issues could involve anywhere from six sessions to a dozen or more.  Six is the median number of sessions that I have with my clients, with a median total cost of $1200.

Second, your costs will be somewhat higher if you are only able to meet outside of normal business hours (evenings and weekends), as my rates are higher at those times.  Third, if the issue you’re dealing with is creating anxiety, depression, or other psychological symptoms that are impacting your relationships, and you have a PPO  health insurance plan that covers mental health, you may be able to be reimbursed for a substantial portion of your outlay since I am a licensed psychotherapist. 

Now let’s look at the benefit you can expect to achieve.  This isn’t an easy calculation to make, but it is certainly worth taking a stab at.  Let me give you prototypical example: 

A client comes to me who’s unsuccessfully applied for dozens of jobs over the past six months, and concludes that there’s something wrong with the approach being used.  If I am able to help that client land a job just one month faster than would be the case without my services, and the job pays $60,000 a year, the approximate before tax benefit would be $5000.  In the case of a $120,000 a year salary the benefit would be $10,000.

Harder to quantify are the benefits of such goals as finding a more fulfilling career, restructuring your life to reduce the pressure you’re under, or saving a relationship that’s in trouble.  This is particularly true since there are no absolute guarantees of success – even the most skilled practitioner may occasionally run into a situation that, for one reason or another, doesn’t improve.  However, these situations are very rare in my practice.  The great majority of my clients are able to achieve their goals or at least make significant progress towards them in partnership with me. 

If you’re not in the physical condition you’d like to be, it makes sense to hire a trainer: someone who knows what you need to do to reach your goals, and will motivate and guide you through that process.  A business in trouble often hires a consultant to take an objective look at its situation and recommend solutions.  The current economic environment has placed tremendous strains on individuals’ lives and relationships.  Whether you are looking to enhance your career prospects, find a different career, cope better with the pressures of the job, or learn approaches and tools to strengthening your relationships, hiring an expert not only makes sense, but will most likely turn into one of the best investments you’ve ever made.



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