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,