Yesterday marked the end of the 20-21 financial year, Progress’ (and RFCBT before its) first full financial year of operation. This seemed like a good time to update on the development of the service. The good news is, as Progress has recorded an operating profit this time (the six months RFCBT operated in the 19-20 financial year ran at a loss), all clients on the current payment tiers (£30/£20) or grandfathered to the older £15 payment plan will have their fees frozen. Therefore, if you are currently paying £15 or more per session your fees won’t go up until at least April 2022 (by then most of you will no longer require the service anyway). This covers over 95% of clients. The few grandfathered to RFCBT’s opening promotional tier of £10 or had it reduced to £10 during lockdown will have fees raised to £15 per session starting from your next payment. From April 2022, the £15 tier will be phased out and the £30/20 system (depending on income) will apply to all clients. Commercial rates for private psychotherapy are typically £40-60 per session but I plan to stabilise Progress on the £30/20 system as long as financially viable (and definitely until April 2022) to meet RFCBT’s founding goal of making therapy accessible to as many people as possible. The exact plan to do this is detailed below but I wish to emphasise that all but a few current clients will see no price rises in this financial year.
20-21 financial report and 21-22 goals.
In the financial year, 06/02/20-05/04/21 Progress Psychotherapy turned an operating profit of £2,000. This was a massive improvement on the £90 loss in the 19-20 financial year. This was achieved in spite of numerous unexpected costs around I.T. (a computer, webcam and other equipment to make the service digital and the Google Workspace subscription for unlimited videocalling and enhanced email hosting) and a massive downturn in business in Spring 2020 as a result of COVID-19 and lockdown (new referrals fell 90% and some clients suspended their sessions due to inability to have face-to-face sessions). There were also regular running costs such as professional memberships and accreditation fees, clinical supervision fees, ICO registration fees, insurance, domain/website hosting fees and marketing fees such as the Counselling Directory listing. Factoring these in, Progress outperformed some of the worst forecasts at the start of the pandemic.
Progress is not intended to be a massive profit driver as that goes against the founding plan of making therapy accessible to as many people as possible. However, considering working time, Progress’ current profit is far below a living wage. On average, operating fees took up £15 per session, meaning Progress makes nothing at a £15 fee and loses money where clients pay less. This will be changed but must be done in a phased manner to be ethical. The £10 tier is from a day 1 promotional rate or lockdown assistance will be ended and the £15 rate will only be grandfathered in until April 2022. While it was set up to deal with COVID lockdown, the “digital first” service will bring savings in terms of costs.
Further steps to enhance Progress’ financials involve expanding the service and managing costs. I act as an associate therapist for a much larger clinic helping to manage their waiting list and this piggy backs off Progress’ online setup meaning extra income at no extra cost. Some investments such as I.T. equipment and a 3 year plan for website/email hosting will not be repeated and (in the case of the 3 year plan), save money long term. Some costs, such as the initial accreditation application and ownership of the RFCBT domain name will not be required again which will reduce costs in this financial year. Finally, a £700 investment was made in a training course to qualify me as a clinical supervisor in August (it will be on the website in around July if this is going ahead). If the pandemic prevents this going ahead I will be refunded (which will be used for other investments in Progress) but if it does I can expand Progress to offer clinical support services to other therapists, at a typical commercial rate. These changes will improve overall income and lower costs, the target is for running costs to average £10 per session rather than £15. This enables the price freeze for most clients to be possible.
A digital first service
When started, RFCBT was not intended to be focused on e-therapy. It was planned to hinge around home visits in the East and North Ayrshire regions to prevent passing office costs onto clients. Progress’ current “digital first” system was a consequence of COVID-19 and the lockdowns. However, it has helped the service meet its goals and more. Progress now has clients from every part of the United Kingdom and meeting its goal of making therapy accessible. This is also a big part of why we can keep costs low and grandfather in the £15 tier.
While evidence suggests that e-therapy can be as effective as face-to face I am proposing to maintain the home visits for those on the £30 tier as an option (as these tend to reduce the number of slots available with travel time) after COVID. Clients on the £20 could choose to go up to the £30 tier if they wish to get home visits. Travel surcharges would be free within Kilmarnock but subject to an extra payment depending on my costs and travel time if going further afield.
Finally, many of the CBT tools haven’t been well suited to e-therapy as printable PDFs. I am going to write up new versions that can be either printed or typed and add them to the website. I am hoping to have the first set featuring the most commonly used tools up in the next 2 weeks.