First impressions are difficult to change. Your introductory therapy / counselling sessions with potential clients are critical to building the therapy alliance and figuring out if you are a therapy match.
Each potential client is unique, so how can you go about setting a standard introductory session? How much should you charge for your time (if at all) and how long should the session be?
We work with a wide array of medical and wellness professionals — from psychiatrists and speech therapists, to neurologists, hypnotists and health coaches. While each provider has a unique approach to conducting introductory sessions, each also has to consider similar factors when defining their standard first session.
What’s the point of an introductory counselling session?
While potential clients can quickly and easily discover health providers through RingMD’s online directory and read each provider's profile, most users (“potential clients”) need more information about a provider before committing to a course of therapy. Many therapists choose to offer their initial consultations for free because for most, this session is simply one for the patient to gather information, is quicker than a standard session, and the therapy, generally, does not actually begin during this session.
The content of an introductory session will vary and will typically last 15-30 minutes. Patients / clients will ask both basic and specific questions during these sessions to find out how much experience the health provider has in helping people with a particular ailment and to get to know the provider’s approach to therapy.
Many patients have cited that these introductory, obligation-free sessions have been very valuable to them, especially for patients / clients who are new to therapy. The sessions help these people get a better understanding of what therapy really is. Otherwise, it can be quite difficult for people to understand what it means to do therapy, even after reading the provider's profile and website. Having the inital call also allows providers to set realistic expectations with the client.
"Since the bulk of a first session is spent on answering basic questions, I always recommend for new therapists and counselors to create an informative website, or to add FAQs to their profile. This way they can spend the bulk of the initial session tackling their client's goals and issues, and the client can be more informed going into the discussion."
— Therapist on RingMD from Canada
Should you offer free introductory sessions?
In general, medical doctors charge for their time spent with patients. If a patient visits the doctor to get a check up or ask a question, they will most likely be charged for the visit. So why is it that wellness, mental health, and other non-medical professionals do not always charge for their time during their first session? There is no one simple answer.
It is your personal decision whether you want to charge for first sessions with potential clients. Because the course of treatment can be more intimate in the wellness and non-medical sphere, and courses of treatments can be lengthy, a client's commitment to buying a multiple-session package without first speaking to the practitioner can be a big point of friction. For this reason, many non-medical practitioners on RingMD choose to offer free first sessions to potential clients.
How to offer a free first session on your RingMD profile
If you feel that offering a free introductory session is right for your practice and would help your patients, you can add this option to your profile in a few clicks. Once you add the option, the session will be available under the "packages" tab in your profile (see below).
See the step-by-step guide here to set up session "packages" through your RingMD profile.