Pro Bono or Not?

In any professional endeavor in which the practitioner has a need to share his skill, there always comes the question as to whether or not to provide pro bono services.

The term "pro bono" means:

To work for the good of the public rather than for a profit or income. To work voluntarily without a fee or charge. [It comes from the phrase pro bono publico - for the public good].

This concept is well established in the legal and medical professions, with certain guidelines provided of how much pro bono work should be done each month. The Reiki and counseling communities have been slow to accept this obligation, feeling that it somehow cheapens the work and that without a cost, there is no pressure on the client to improve and/or take responsibility for their problems. This is often a problem. However, I have always felt that my services are too commercialized if I keep the idea of income foremost in my mind. I should not be looking at each new client as funding my food or mortgage. Ideally, I would like to provide all of my services without charge all of the time. Often those in greatest need of assistance have very limited funds. Perhaps this conflict is why professionals do not like to be involved with the billing themselves!

Nevertheless, like everyone else, I do have financial needs which must be met. If I do not do so, my ability to provide services is quickly compromised. Also, my sense of personal worth is affected when clients are only interested in me when I charge low fees or none at all [this is an emotional response, I realize, but it happens in spite of reason]. The balance for me is to find ways for all clients to be able to afford my reasonable fees, as well as providing very limited pro bono work for those who are without any realistic ability to pay at the moment. In addition, there are times when I cannot, or should not, put a price on the requested service, such as a truly emergency action in counseling for someone in crisis.

In addition, in energywork there are those types of teaching moments which traditionally are never charged for, such as providing quick answers over the telephone or by email.  Furthermore, in energywork, there are also those types of work which are felt only to be successful when done without charge. [In the traditional village setting, the needs of the practitioner were met by the community, much in the same way that school teachers were given what they needed in the early days in certain parts of this country. I will still provide these services without charge, as I hope that my clients will not take advantage of my time and resources beyond the reasonable.]  The issue of "marketing" is also a factor. One cannot charge a prospective client for the time spent in evaluating whether or not I can give them the service which they want. Such discussions are their right and duty; they cannot be subject to charge. There are also certain subtle energy services which are never charged for, since to do so would affect the result, or prevent a successful outcome. [ In return, a client for such services traditionally would be obligated to offer compensation for legitimate expenses, such as travel, meals, and supplies, if any.]

At the end of the day, I must be able to "like myself"  for the kind of day which I have chosen. One should always remember that the professional services must be available in a reasonable manner..