Why Isn’t It A Good Idea To Offer A Free First Therapy Session? 4 Compelling Reasons

free therapy session

One of the best-known persuasion techniques in the world of marketing This is what is known as “foot in the door.” The basis for this way of interacting with potential customers is simple: you are offered a very good deal at the beginning, one in which you clearly benefit, to gain your trust and make you invest a minimum of time and effort in trying our product. and service.

Then, once this potential first barrier has been broken down, you are offered the standard service, the one that we really wanted to present to you from the beginning.

As a way to persuade, this technique is useful, but there are always exceptions. Every industry is different, and there are many other variables that affect how customers and consumers perceive us. In the case of psychology, for example, there are several compelling reasons to be against free first consultations for patients starting

4 reasons not to offer a free first therapy session

This is a brief review of the reasons why it is better to avoid offering a first psychotherapy session for free. Not all of them have to do with the most advertising and persuasive facet of marketing; some are related to the very nature of the service that is being offered.

1. Generates little commitment in patients

If we really want the first therapy to be truly part of the service that will help the patient, and not a simple appendix to an advertising device, we must do everything possible to ensure that those who attend the consultation are committed. Unlike other types of services, in which the client can adopt a passive role, In psychotherapy the professional is still a facilitator of change and involvement and effort is required on the part of patients.

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Therefore, it is negative that the only active action that the patient carries out is to evaluate the service that we are offering in a purchase decision context. This context is based on the idea that there are conflicting interests that may or may not fit together, while a much higher level of delivery would be desirable.

2. Generates added resistance

This point follows from the previous one, and has to do with the fact that the client does not limit himself to constantly evaluating what is happening in the first consultation as if it were specifically a context in which to decide whether to buy or not buy; besides, You have to take into account what the patient thinks the therapist thinks And in a situation like this, it is very likely that you believe that the psychologist is more concerned with selling than with truly serving you.

This is an added barrier that does not have to be dealt with as much if the first session must be paid for, and possibly in many cases it completely nullifies the advantage that giving the free trial would have given given the initial reluctance of potential clients.

3. Gives a wrong idea of ​​the effectiveness of the sessions

The first free therapy session goes against the logic that seeks to strengthen the therapeutic bond between patient and therapist. Not only does it focus on the fact that the patient must be constantly evaluating in real time (during the session) whether to continue or decide that it is not worth it, but it also promotes the idea that this session be seen as a unit, and not as the first part of a change process

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If we put emphasis on this second way of seeing the services of psychologists, we would have a closer view of the reality of what therapy is: a service in which the added value appears not in the sessions seen as something individual, but in the transitions that go from one to another. Furthermore, the first day is usually not enough for patients to change for the better and in a sustained manner; It is a preparation for what is to come.

4. The opportunity cost

No matter how free it may be, it is clear that the first psychotherapy session always costs something. Specifically it costs time. This is something that many professionals do not think about, assuming that no matter how much work they have they will achieve everything, but in practice, this causes them to lose the opportunity to both be attracting clients really interested in the service as well as offering a very professional service without having to deal with the wear and tear caused by overwork.

To do?

It is true that we do not have to completely reject the underlying idea behind the client acquisition technique based on giving free first sessions. You can spend some extra time communicating with someone who has not agreed to pay, but It is advisable to do it in a context that is defined as something different from the therapy itself

For this reason, small initial consultations can be offered, or short meetings in which to express doubts and clarify key aspects of what is offered, although more important than the time invested in them is the fact of not “selling” this as a part fundamental of the service that is actually offered. It is a way to overcome the inconveniences that we have seen and to go straight to the heart of the issue: having all the necessary information, does that person believe that it will benefit them to start psychological therapy with us?

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