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Why is not it a good idea to offer a first free therapy session? 4 reasons of weight

Why is not it a good idea to offer a first free therapy session? 4 reasons of weight

September 14, 2022

One of the best known persuasion techniques in the world of marketing It is what is known as "standing at the door". The basis of this way of interacting with potential customers is simple: you are offered a very good treatment at the beginning, one in which you clearly benefit from it, to earn your trust and to invest a minimum of time and effort in testing our product. and service.

Then, once this potential first barrier is knocked down, the standard service is offered, the one that you really wanted to present from the beginning.

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


  • Related article: "The 10 most effective persuasion techniques"

4 reasons why not offer a first session of free therapy

This is a small review of the reasons why it is better to avoid offering a first session of free psychotherapy. Not all 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. It generates little commitment in patients

If we really want the first therapy to be really part of the service that will help the patient, and not a simple appendage of an advertising device, we must do everything possible so that the person attending the consultation is committed. Unlike other types of services, in which the client can adopt a passive role, in psychotherapy the professional does not cease to be a facilitator of change , and it requires involvement and effort on the part of patients.


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

  • You may be interested: "How should the relationship between psychologist and patient be?

2. Generates added resistances

This point is derived from the previous one, and has to do with the fact that the client does not limit himself to constantly assessing what is happening in the first consultation as if it were specifically a context in which to decide whether to buy or not to buy; also, you have to keep in mind what the patient thinks the therapist thinks . And in such a situation, it is very likely that he believes that the psychologist is more concerned with selling than with really serving him.


This is an added barrier with which you do not have to deal so much if the first session should be paid, and possibly in many cases completely cancel the advantage that would have given the free test to the initial reluctance of potential customers.

3. Gives an erroneous idea of ​​the effectiveness of the sessions

The first session of free therapy goes against the logic that seeks to strengthen the therapeutic link between patient and therapist. It not only puts the focus on the fact that the patient must be constantly assessing and in real time (during the session) whether to go ahead or decide that it does not compensate him, but also promotes the idea that this session be seen as a unit, and not as the first part of a process of change .

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 the other. In addition, the first day is not usually sufficient 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

However gratuitous it may be, it is clear that the first session of psychotherapy always costs something. It specifically costs time. This is something that many professionals do not think, assuming that much work they have will come to everything, but in practice, this makes them miss the opportunity of both to be getting clients really interested in the service , as to offer 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 totally reject the basic idea that operates after the technique of attracting customers based on giving first free sessions. You can spend some extra time communicating with someone who has not committed to pay, but it is advisable to do it in a context that is defined as something different from the therapy itself .

Therefore, you can offer small initial consultations, or short meetings in which to expose 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 core of the issue: having all the necessary information, does that person believe that it would benefit him to start psychological therapy with us?


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