This is the third and final post of a 3-part series, The Therapist’s Ultimate Guide to Packaging Therapeutic Services.
In the first part of the series, I discussed 12 benefits of packaging your clinical work.
In the second part of the series, I shared the 8 questions you must ask before bundling and packaging your therapeutic services.
And, today, I’m hoping to inspire you a bit and get those creative juices flowing by sharing a list of 30 products and services that you may choose from to include in your packaging of clinical services.
Cautiously Exploring Our Edges
Lynn Grodski, LCSW, the author of Crisis-Proof Your Practice: How to Survive and Thrive in an Uncertain Economy, has not been shy in urging us to get creative in marketing our practices; she has said that therapists need to notice our “resistance to altering the traditional methods of finding referrals, billing clients and positioning ourselves with the public.”
And, yet more than one of my highly respected colleagues have taken time to reach out to me both publicly and privately to take issue with this idea of bundling our clinical services into nontraditional packages.
They have shared concerns in statements like “This hurts the mental health field” and “cheapens the work that we do;” while others have lodged grave concerns about “clients feeling trapped into services that they no longer want or need” and questioning therapists’ motives in using nontraditional packaging of clinical services as being “greedy” and “profit-driven.”
It is important to me that you understand that there are still many different opinions related to the idea of how we as mental health professionals present ourselves to the general public and market our services as providers of therapeutic services in private practice.
Your job is to engage in rigorous self-reflection (as each of our ethical codes of conduct requires of us to do), do your due diligence in seeking consultation with more seasoned and knowledgable colleagues, and to consult with legal counsel as necessary to insure that both you and your clients’ needs are being met to the best of your ability.
I’m happy to host a diversity of opinions in this series and on my blog in general.
Don’t make the mistake – as many of us have done at one time or another – of reading and believing only what already feels “right” and then making decisions based on those presumed “facts.”
Considerations and Explorations in Packaging Clinical Work
The truth is that in the almost three decades that I have been in private practice, much has changed including things that you may now take for granted.
I was practicing long before it was considered ethical or legal for therapists to even advertise and list themselves in directories.
Our field is an exciting one that is continuing to morph and change; but, along with those changes come new standards and new practices, new opportunities and new risks – for both clients and for therapists.
It’s important to be cognizant of those black and white and murky gray areas in order to make informed choices for you and your clients.
I appreciate the voices among us who are pushing the edges to explore new and different ways of offering our services; and, I also appreciate the voices of those among us who are urging caution and thoughtfulness as we move forward.
There is room for both as we continue to integrate new technologies and practices into mental health.
And, there is need for both.
30 Products and Services for Your Psychotherapy Practice
When considering what elements should make up any given package of your services and products, it is critical to take into consideration your ideal clients’ interests and needs.
For example, a client exhibiting a looseness or absence of boundaries will likely require a different constellation of your offerings than another client whose boundaries are more appropriately intact.
Here are 30 ways for you to consider packaging your clinical services and products for your psychotherapy practice:
Services to Bundle Up
- Assessments and Reports Therapists are increasingly choosing to conduct formal assessments and create reports for other professionals and agencies.
Whether you are completing something as simple as inventories like Beck Depression Inventory, a progress report for your client’s physician, or a full blown psychological evaluation for an attorney, you may want to roll assessments and reports into your service packages, too.
- Recaps/Session Summaries of Clinical Work Solution focused therapists were the first to introduce the idea of sharing recaps and summaries of sessions with clients and often shared their hunches and strategies as well in those written communications.
These days therapists are increasingly choosing to share their actual clinical notes with clients at the conclusion of their appointments or shortly afterward.
- Audio Recordings/Transcripts of Clinical Work Some clients will welcome the opportunity to review the content of their sessions via audio recordings or transcripts at their own convenience.
- Check-in Calls Some clients need accountability; others struggle with attachment and the permanence of a person.
There can be lots of reasons that quick check-in calls may be clinically appropriate and useful to your clients.
- Guaranteed Timely Access to You/Responses from You in Non-emergency Situations Sometimes clients will value guaranteed access to you or hearing from you either in person, by phone, by email, or even by text in a timely manner in non-emergency situations.
This is one of those judgement calls that I referenced earlier in this series because, of course, if your client is unable or unwilling to hold appropriate boundaries with you, this non-emergent access between sessions may well be contraindicated.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to be available to your clients who are struggling as new parents to establish new sleep patterns with their toddlers, this same access might be of value in establishing new protocols, patterns, or better manage emotion regulation.
- Same-week Sessions Some clients can benefit from more frequent sessions due to higher acuity.
If this is true for your clients, consider offering same-week sessions to better meet their needs.
- Standing Appointments Many therapists are eager to offer standing appointments to clients.
They help both therapists and clients more easily insure that appointments are more easily planned into the busy lives of therapists and clients.
- Unscheduled Walk-in Appointments If you are able and willing to accommodate clients who have not already scheduled appointments, you may be able to better serve clients who had not anticipated needing to use your services.
- Psycho-educational Groups Most successful therapists have multiple income streams.
Offering psycho-educational group can be one of them.
If these groups can support your clients in meeting their treatment goals, then they can be appropriate to bundle into your packages.
- Skills Training Groups Skills training groups, like psycho-educational groups, can also be an appropriate service to include in your service packages.
For example, if you work with clients who are socially awkward or delayed, offering a social skills group can easily assist them in more quickly meeting their treatment goals.
- Open Office Hours Therapists with very busy office hours may find that by offering open office hours on a recurring basis, they are able to field more inquiries in a shorter amount of time, and in doing so more efficiently meet clients’ informational needs and their own scheduling needs.
- Email Access It’s not uncommon for clients to have questions for their therapists in between sessions.
If boundaries are not something that your client and you struggle with, you may want to permit clients to contact you in a HIPAA-complaint way in between sessions to get their questions answered.
- Online Communities Some therapists actually provide online communities and spaces to allow their clients to meet and interact virtually.
I have seen this type of offer made when supporting clients who are learning new social skills.
- Live Q & A’s Live question and answer sessions held in your office or online are a terrific way to give added value to current and past clients.
You can structure these around specific topics or you can leave them open to whatever interests happen to show up during your event.
It is likely that your clients will have some overlapping interests and concerns that may lend themselves to this format.
Products Can Also Be Included in Your Packages
- White Papers Your clients may appreciate being able to access authoritative reports (commonly referred to as “white papers”) that concisely describes an issue and then explains how to resolve that issue.
Think about your go-to solutions that you repeatedly explain to your clients.
Each of these may constitute a possible white paper.
Then, as you write and curate multiple white papers on topics of interest to your clients, you can offer access to your “library” of white papers.
- Printed Books Many therapists suggest books that they believe may be useful to their clients.
As an alternative to having your client leave your office to go purchase a certain book, you may wish to simply loan or give your client a copy of that book.
In doing so, you’ve made it just a little easier for your client to obtain the book and a little quicker for him to get started reading it.
- Ebooks Ebooks you have published present a similar opportunity for clients – allowing him to download a book at his convenience.
- Pre-Recorded Classes Many of you already teach classes in universities, at professional conferences, or in your own community.
It costs you very little time and resources to record those classes and then give your clients access to those recordings.This is particularly useful to those clients who are auditory learners.
- Lending Library Much like the libraries in your own neighborhoods, many therapists are creating lending libraries in their own offices.
And, lest you think they are limited to books, you would be mistaken!
Books, CD’s, videos, and even toys and gadgets can be checked out by clients and later returned.
It’s a great way to expand your offerings while allowing clients to try out/use products that you may recommend.
Here are a few lending libraries from mental health and allied health professionals to take inspiration from: JEFT Lending Library, New Hampshire Family Voices, The Johnson String Project, Wyoming Center on Aging Lending Library, and Lekotek Toy Lending Library.
- CD’s and Other Audio Recordings If you are a therapist who uses guided relaxation or hypnosis, you will likely find that many of your clients would welcome recordings of your work so that they can use them in between their appointments with you.
Recordings of classes and workshops you have taught or even recordings that you have purchased may also be useful and of interest to your clients.
- Downloadable Information, Worksheets, and Handouts Any type of downloadable information or tool that is relevant to your client and their work with you can be a welcome addition to the clinical service that you are providing.
This website offers many examples of worksheets and handouts that can serve as inspiration for your own downloadable tool.
- Workbooks It is also likely that some of you have already created workbooks to support your clients in meeting their treatment goals.
Whether traditionally published and now sitting in bookstores ready for sale, published in a digital format or something that you simply print off on your office computer and then place in a binder, many clients appreciate the opportunity to receive your work in a tangible and visible format for learning.
Joint Ventures to Consider
And, finally, don’t forget to include joint ventures with other professionals (both inside and outside of mental health) to augment your client’s health care needs.
Here’s just a quick list of the many possibilities you might want to include in your packaging of services:
- Divorce planning services with an attorney,
- Chiropractic services,
- Massage therapy services,
- An exercise plan with a local trainer,
- Resume development or career tune-ups from a career counselor,
- Dietary planning with a dietician
- A spa experience, and
- An annual physical exam with a local physician
Opportunities for Growth and Change
Our field is changing; the market is changing.
I want to urge you to view all this change as an opportunity rather than a threat to lean into your creativity to create bundles and packages of services that meet both yours and your clients’ needs.
I’m sure some of you left the tradition packaging of your services long ago . . . and certainly many of you are just now starting to explore your options.
If you are already bundling up your clinical services, products, and / or joint ventures, I hope you will take a moment to share your experiences below.
And, if you are still presenting your services in a more traditional and not-bundled offering, I hope you will join the conversation, too – sharing your thoughts about how you have decided to package your services and any concerns that you may have.