What Does it Cost to Try Counselling by Email?

As an email-based online therapy or online counselling client, you’ll have as much control as possible over costs; the service also provides an iron-clad refund guarantee.

The Problem With Some Counselling Charging Schemes

When a counsellor working via email charges directly for time spent on reading and replying, it is difficult for you to know in advance exactly how much you might be asked to spend: the clinician might spend quite a long while reading and replying, or they might spend only a little while. Likewise, the most common method of charging — a flat rate "per email response" — means that you do not know how what you are asked to pay relates to what you receive: unless it is specified in advance, you don’t know whether your fixed fee buys you a clever 3-line response, a deep and meaningful small book, or something in between.

Online Counselling With Fair and Transparent Charging

To many clients, both of these methods of charging seem unfair. Therefore, I have developed two innovative ways to give as much control over costs as possible to you, the client. Both options provide control over total costs, but one offers greater flexibility while the other offers the greatest savings.

Limited Email Counselling, Paid By Message Length

The first option provides the greatest flexibility in terms of how you use your counselling. By paying attention to the average time I have spent in the past reading and responding to client emails, I am able to ask for a fair fee based upon the length of your emails and my responses. This way, you know in advance exactly how much it will cost to send an email of a given length, and because of the way the system works, you always have complete control over the total amount you choose to spend on counselling. This option allows you to spread out your counselling sessions however you like for a known cost.

Unlimited Email Counselling, Paid By Subscription

The second option provides the greatest potential savings. Again by paying attention to the average time I have spent in the past reading and responding to client emails, I am able to ask for a fair fee based upon the duration of our work together. With this option, you receive unlimited email counselling over the subscription period, and whether your emails are long or short, the cost is always the same.

Email Counselling By Subscription: Convenience and Maximum Savings

The subscription plan offers the greatest potential savings for clients who would like to spend more time on our counselling work.

Two-Week Subscription

With the subscription plan, you receive unlimited email counselling during the subscription period. You can write however much you like and however often you like: the cost remains exactly the same. Your subscription will be billed automatically every two weeks for £90 (for the latest conversion to $USD or other currencies, please check the Yahoo! Finance Currency Converter), and you can cancel at any time. (See the note on Currency Details below for information on other currencies.)

Is This For Real?

You might wonder: how can I possibly provide unlimited email counselling for a set price? I have done enough counselling by email to know that the process of counselling at a distance usually moves at a certain pace, analogous to (although not necessarily the same as) the pace of face-to-face counselling. People need time to reflect and ponder and absorb and experience, and they do not fire off dozens of emails 24 hours per day. Sure, it sometimes goes a little more quickly, or a little more slowly, but there is a natural flow to the process, and on average, I have a good idea for about how much time I might spend reading and replying to a client over a set period of time working together. I believe I have set a price which fairly reflects this time. If some clients require a little more time and some clients a little less, that’s OK.

As explained on the separate page on How it Works, I normally respond to emails up to 1,500 words in length within 2 business days; longer emails take a proportionally longer time.

Counselling Subscriptions, Dormant Accounts, and Refund Guarantee

If I have not had any communication from you for a period of three weeks, and you have not mentioned that you plan to be away for a particular period (such as for vacations, etc.), I will write to you to ask whether you would like to continue counselling. If I do not receive any reply after another week — i.e., if I have not heard from you at all for a period of 4 weeks — I will assume that you would like to terminate our counselling relationship and close your account. In this case, your fees for the most recent subscription period will be refunded in full. In addition, in the early stages of our counselling, if either of us should decide for any reason that we would prefer not to continue working with one another, a full refund for any remaining full weeks in the current subscription period will be made. (For example, if you decide five days into a two-week period that you would like to finish counselling, you will receive a full refund for the remaining week.)

Please note: Very rarely it happens that a client signs up for a service but then effectively vanishes — without leaving any valid email address where I can contact them and without providing a valid PayPal address where I can return their payment. On these occasions, I will make every effort to issue the appropriate refund. However, if PayPal indicates that the relevant account does not exist, or the funds otherwise remain unclaimed, I will be unable to do so. Under these circumstances, the payment will be considered forfeited 28 days after my initial attempt to make the refund. If, for whatever reason, you need to vanish, please at least let me know how I can return payments to you!

Email Counselling By Message Length: Maximum Flexibility

The WordBank plan offers the greatest flexibility for clients who might like to work on a less regular basis, or who would like to focus briefly on a particular topic.

Your Email Counselling ‘WordBank’

This system works much like a mobile phone pay-as-you-go system, except that rather than purchasing blocks of mobile phone airtime, you purchase blocks of 1000 words which are added to your ‘WordBank’* balance. If you use a mobile phone, you might purchase, say, 120 minutes for some specific price. You would then make calls whenever you want and for however long you want, until the 120 minutes are used up. Similarly, as an email counselling client, you purchase one or more blocks of 1000 words, which are deposited in your ‘WordBank’. You can use these up whenever you like by sending emails and receiving replies.

The number of words in your emails is simply deducted from your existing WordBank balance. All the words in client emails count toward the total, but in my replies, only those words I actually write (excluding quotations from the email I am replying to) count toward the total. So for instance, I might quote your 500-word email in its entirety, but if my reply is only 50 words long, that email reply deducts only 50 words from your WordBank balance. You will never be billed for a ‘runaway’ counsellor response (a lengthy counsellor reply to a short email), and in fact you will never be billed at all: I ask only that if you would like to continue our counselling relationship, you maintain a WordBank balance which is above zero. You always retain complete control of the total amount you choose to spend on counselling.

In practice, my replies are frequently shorter than client emails; except for replies to very short emails, my replies are rarely more than 50% longer than client emails.

Each of my email replies contains a footer indicating your prior WordBank balance, any recent top-ups you have purchased, the amount subtracted for the current exchange, and the remaining balance.

Your WordBank of available word count can be topped up at any time, with one block of 1000 words at £27 or the equivalent in your local currency. For the latest conversion to $USD or other currencies, please check the Yahoo! Finance Currency Converter. (See the note on Currency Details below for information on other currencies.)

Discounts are available for the purchase of larger blocks of words.

If you write quite short emails, a single block of 1000 words might be enough for 3 complete email-and-reply exchanges, while if you like to write a great deal at once, you might need a whole block just for one email. Fortunately, you can always check in advance just by using the word count feature of a word processor: you can always tell exactly how much a given email will deduct from your WordBank balance.

Counselling WordBank Balances, Dormant Accounts and Refund Guarantee

WordBank blocks can be kept in reserve indefinitely and do not expire, as long as our counselling relationship continues. If I have not had any communication from you for a period of three weeks, and you have not mentioned that you plan to be away for a particular period (such as for vacations, etc.), I will write to you to ask whether you would like to continue counselling. If I do not receive any reply after another week — i.e., if I have not heard from you at all for a period of 4 weeks — I will assume that you would like to terminate our counselling relationship and close your account. In the early stages of our counselling, if either of us should decide for any reason that we would prefer not to continue working with one another, a full refund for any unused blocks purchased within the last 28 days will be made. (For example, if you have initially purchased 3 x 1000 word blocks, but after exchanging 1700 words of emails, we decide not to continue working together, the unused 1000 word block will be refunded in full.) If we have worked together for less than 28 days because of a waiting list being in place, then it does not matter when the blocks were originally purchased: you will still receive a full refund for any unused blocks.

Please note: Very rarely it happens that a client signs up for a service but then effectively vanishes — without leaving any valid email address where I can contact them and without providing a valid PayPal address where I can return their payment. On these occasions, I will make every effort to issue the appropriate refund. However, if PayPal indicates that the relevant account does not exist, or the funds otherwise remain unclaimed, I will be unable to do so. Under these circumstances, the payment will be considered forfeited 28 days after my initial attempt to make the refund. If, for whatever reason, you need to vanish, please at least let me know how I can return payments to you!

Currency Details

Native currency payments can be made in any of the currencies currently supported by PayPal. Remember, although I am geographically located in England (and give prices in British pounds sterling), I work with clients from all over the world!


* The term ‘word bank’ is sometimes used in education to refer to sets of vocabulary words for study, while lexicographers use the term to refer to a corpus that provides statistical evidence about word usage. In this context, I use ‘WordBank’ just to refer to the available word count which a client has purchased.

This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser on .

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