Should you offer therapy clients a free first session?
This question is debated regularly in counselling discussions, the pros and cons of free initial sessions.
The truth is, there simply isn’t a definitive right or wrong answer, it is literally your business and up to you how you choose to run it.
However, there are a few considerations to take into account. Here are some issues for you to reflect on as you make your choice
Offering a free initial therapy session
Offering a paid initial session
Personally, I have done both. I used to offer a free consultation when I first started out but with the benefit of hindsight, that was mainly due to my own lack of confidence around charging for counselling.
When I stopped offering a free initial session, I noticed no difference in the number of inquiries or people contracting with me, and others that have tried both report the same.
So is it a lack of confidence that puts you off charging for your time from the onset? Worth some reflection, or discussion at supervision.
It's also worth considering that in many other health and wellbeing professions (acupuncture, chiropractor etc), the initial appointment has a higher price than a regular appointment because they usually allow more time for detailed history taking.
When starting out, offering a free initial session is more possible as you may have more time available, but once your practice builds, could you find the extra hours a week for unpaid client work?
And you simply may not be able to afford to offer free sessions. You need to earn a living too!
Some other ways people manage their initial appointments:
There really is no right or wrong answer, only what feels right for you. But remember, nothing is written in stone and if what you currently offer no longer works for you, you can change it.
I do cover this subject in themindset and money section of the Grow Your Private Practice book, check it out below.