Private Practice Success: Exploring Your Cancellation Policy – Black and White or Shades of Grey

Maria Gray, LMFT, NMP

I have a 24-hour cancellation policy; this is clearly stated clearly in my informed consent. I also remind my clients of the policy during our first session. Often clients forget this policy (this often leads to interesting clinical material).

In the beginning I was pretty black and white about my policy. Over time I have become more flexible, developing shades of grey (no pun intended).
Here are a few examples: Some of my clients are performers and often get calls for auditions with minimal notice. Others work in healthcare and are on-call. With these clients, we have agreed to “split the difference,” meaning the client is responsible for paying half of the cancellation fee if they miss a session. Sometimes we are able to squeeze in a phone session prior to an audition, and the client pays his/her regular fee. It’s not a blanket policy; I use my clinical gut to guide my decisions.

Some of my clients have chronic health problems. They come to session when they are ill in order to avoid paying the late fee. I encourage them to call for a phone session instead.

Some therapists choose to waive their cancellation fee when their clients are sick, what feels right to you?