One of the most famous persuasion techniques in the marketing world this is what we call the “foot in the door”. The basis of this way of interacting with potential customers is simple: you are offered a very good deal to those who are initially, one in which she emerges clearly favored, to gain their trust and make them invest a minimum of time and of effort. by testing our products and services.
Then, once this first potential barrier is broken, he is offered the standard service, which he really wanted to present to him from the start.
To persuade, this technique is useful, but there are always exceptions. Every industry is different, and there are many other variables that affect the way customers and consumers view us. In the case of psychology, for example, there are several compelling reasons to oppose the first free consultations for new patients.
4 reasons not to offer a first free therapy session
Here is a quick overview of the reasons why it is better to avoid offering a free first session of psychotherapy. Not all of them have to do with the more advertising and persuasive aspect of marketing; some are linked to the very nature of the service offered.
1. It generates little engagement among patients
If we really want the first therapy to really be part of the service that will help the patient, and not just a supplement to an advertising device, everything must be done to ensure that those who attend the consultation are committed. Unlike other types of services, in which the customer can play a passive role, in psychotherapy, the professional is always a facilitator of change, And requires involvement and effort on the part of patients.
It is therefore negative that the only active action taken by the patient is to promote the service we offer them in the context of a purchasing decision. This context is based on the idea that there are conflicting interests which may or may not be suitable, when what is desirable would be a much higher level of performance.
2. Generates additional resistances
This point follows from the above and concerns the fact that the customer is not limited to constantly evaluating what is happening during the first consultation as if it were specifically a context in which to decide to buy or no; Outraged, it is necessary to consider what the patient thinks the therapist thinks. And in such a situation, you are very likely to believe that the psychologist is more concerned with selling than with really taking care of you.
This is an additional hurdle that shouldn’t be dealt with as much if the first session is to be paid for, and perhaps in many cases completely negates the benefit that would have been given by giving the free trial in the face of the initial reluctance of potential customers.
3. It gives a false 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 has to constantly assess in real time (during the session) whether to go ahead or decide that it does not pay him, but also promotes the idea that this session should be seen as a unit and not as the first part of a process of change.
If we focused on this second way of looking at the services of psychologists, we would take a closer look at the reality of what therapy is: a service in which the added value does not appear in the sessions seen as something individual, but in the transitions that go from one to another. In addition, the first day is usually not enough for patients to change for the better and in a lasting way; it is a preparation for what is to come.
4. The opportunity cost
As free as it is, it is clear that the first session of psychotherapy always costs a little. It costs time specifically. This is something that many professionals do not think about, assuming that no matter how much work they have they are going to do it all, but in practice it bothers them both. capture customers who are genuinely interested in the service, How to provide a very professional service without having to deal with the wear and tear caused by overwork.
What to do?
It is true that we do not have to completely reject the idea of funds which operate after the technique of attracting clients based on offering free first sessions. You can, however, spend a little more time communicating with someone who has not agreed to pay. it is advisable to do this in a context defined as something different from the therapy itself.
Therefore, small initial consultations may be offered, or short meetings to raise doubts and clarify key aspects of what is being proposed, although more important than the time invested is not ‘selling’. this as a fundamental element. the service that is actually offered. This is a way to get around the drawbacks we have seen and get right to the heart of the matter: having all the necessary information, do you think this person will benefit from starting psychological therapy with us?