Cancellation fees are fraught for all parties. No one likes to enforce or receive cancellation fees and no clinician likes to have a full diary turn into swiss cheese overnight.
- Discourage clients that may tend to disrespect your time
- Avoid therapeutic ruptures or negative Google reviews saying that you're greedy
- Recoup some of the value of your lost time
We suggest a three strikes escalating cancellation policy. When a client cancels within a 24 business hour window the following cancellation fees apply.
|3rd + occurrence||100%|
|sickness of self or someone they are caring for||0%|
|Spot filled from cancellation list||0%|
These fees are applied for the lifetime of client across all clinicians (even if they change clinician). Their cancellation history is easily searched by going to their Profile > Appointments > Appointment statistics. This does mean though that you need to accurately render late cancellation and no show statuses though.
How did we arrive at our current cancellation policy?
Guided by the APS, clinical insights about building strong therapeutic alliances and trial and error.
No late cancellation fee leads to more late cancellations
Our previous cancellation policy was:
X01 - 0%
X02 - 50%
X03 - 100%
When we ran the stats on how many people cancelled more than once, we found that 75% of clients who had one late cancellation but were given a $0 warning, cancelled at late notice on a subsequent occasion. So we trialled a small fee (25%) for the first occasion, and the repeat late cancellation rate dropped to under 30%!
So some fee seemed to be important as a deterrent to cancel at late notice again. Which makes sense.
When the first cancellation fee is too high it leads to therapeutic rupture. One clinician trialled a 50% cancellation fee on the first instance and she received a larger number of complaints from her clients about this fee, she felt more anxiety about applying it and had to more work outside of session time to repair ruptures in relationships. It appeared that charging too high a fee is triggering for some clients and strains the therapeutic alliance.
Last Reviewed 25 May 2022