Is It Ethical to Make & Sell Guided Imagery Audios for Clients? | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 16 December 2013

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A psychotherapist asks a great question about the ethical issues involved in making and selling professional quality guided imagery recordings for her clients.

BR, I attended your conference a while back... wonderful... everything about it was inspiring, interesting, and fun.

I'm interested in making a CD of guided imagery... I have the resources... from you! And also my husband is a musician, who can help me record it in a studio, etc.  It would require an investment of my time, effort, and finances.  

My question is this: Is it ethical to charge a fee to my clients for them to purchase my CD? Or am I expected to give them one for free? Thank you very much!


Dear TQ,

A great question, and especially now, around the holidays, when people could use an extra resource in the old de-stressing tool kit.  

And, really, what could make for a better ‘transitional object than the emotional ‘blankie’ that comes from the sound of a trusted therapist’s voice? (And for clients who suffer from separation anxiety and bonding insufficiency… what could be better?)

But to answer your question, yes, it's always ethical to charge for something that takes extra time, trouble, expense and care. 

You can do it either by charging for the cost of the item itself as an extra; or, if you plan on doing these for individuals on a regular basis, you could also just raise your fees a bit to cover your expenses across the board.

The ethical concerns would come into play if you used your influence and relationship with your clients to press them into buying things from you that they didn't want or need or that weren't appropriate for them; or if you did this only to make profit, without considering how to help each individual in the way that best suited them and was most clinically indicated. 

The main thing is to be delicate and sensitive in not pressing anyone to take a recording, because so many clients are attached and want to please us, and might respond with a yes only to fulfill our wishes (even if unspoken – they’re implied). 

You might even consider just giving someone a CD to take home for starters, and if they find it useful, they can buy it later, otherwise, return it.  You can put the onus off the personal (“tell me you like this or you'll injure my narcissism”) by saying that some people can really use this technique, others not so much.  Saying this might give them more freedom to give it back or not use it.

Then just pay careful attention that this doesn't change the relationship, and if it does, of course, you must address and process this, just as you would with anything else along these lines. 

For all these complicated reasons, it might make more sense to just raise your fees a tad and not charge for the item.

I hope this helps. Good luck!  I’m delighted you got turned on to using this eminently useful tool, and I bet your clients will be too.

If anyone reading this can think of any other considerations, please post your thoughts below!

All best,

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Comments (5)Add Comment
written by Mike Miller, PhD, December 18, 2013
GREAT answer!!! Happy Holidays.
written by Susan B. Landry, December 18, 2013
May I also recommend Jack Kornfield's cd's?

A therapist who I greatly respect played the cd while driving of After Enlightenment, the Laundry.

This started me on meditation, which has salved my soul over the years.

Better than pharmaceuticals!

written by David Rauls, December 19, 2013
B/R, as a patient I think your approach is correct. The fee to cover cost/profit margin is the way to go. If it is already included in the fee the patient will concider it a "freebie" reguardless. This will re-enforce the provider/patient relationship. Also I would "highly" encourgae to have the CD vetted through Guided Imagery International website This will bring the needed credibility to the product.

Just my two cents,
Dave R.
written by Belleruth, December 20, 2013
Love having your 2 cents, Dave. Any time!! Thanks.
written by lisa kaye, February 28, 2014
I do not think this is ethical. To have ANY product, a book, a CD, anything that client as to purchase separately, the client is likely coming to you because they are already in a vulnerable state, and you are exploiting this state buy even suggesting it to them. It is either part of the service and you do not charge extra, or you do not do I at all. Otherwise, its like presenting a "therapy menu" to the patient, and making the patient feel pressure to keep buying "add ons".

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