Beryl Rush Tritel, MSW is a therapist with offices in Jerusalem and Ramat Bet Shemesh in Israel.
She and at least a dozen other therapists have written to me over the last few months asking about the pros and cons and possible ways to package their clinical services and products.
There’s a lot to consider before you even begin to create bundles of your professional work.
Why You Should Think about Packaging Your Clinical Work
Most of your prospective clients don’t have a clue who you are.
They don’t know if they can trust you.
It feels kind of risky to even think about hiring you.
These strangers and almost-strangers aren’t sure what you can really do for them or if you are just promising them pie in the sky.
Common sense alone should tell you that all of these things can cause new clients to delay and even avoid engaging in your services.
What is Packaging?
The packaging of services refers to the act of bundling your clinical services and/or products and then presenting them as a single offer.
Such bundles of services and products may be offered at the same or different price points while at the same time giving your clients more choices about the different ways in which they engage with and use your clinical services.
What you charge and how you choose to package your services are entirely up to you and speaks, in part, to your clinical point of view.
12 Ways Packaging Your Services Can Better Serve You and Your Client
- Identifying Your Process = Roadmap
In many ways, explaining exactly what you do beyond saying “I provide psychotherapy” can be really hard.
How you work with your client is unique to you.
What you do with your client and the end result can often appear like magic to a satisfied client or the general public.
Words may often elude you or fail to adequately describe the moment-by-moment facilitation of complex streams of activity between you and your client(s) to facilitate change.
And, because that process that you facilitate can be unclear to clients who are often new to therapy, that process is often not easily understood.
By packaging your services, you can provide a roadmap of sorts to these clients . . . so that they better understand exactly what you are offering.
- Share Your Point of View
Often the way you package your work shows your point of view and your values as a mental health professional.
Some therapists demonstrate their concerns for their clients’ financial limitations by offering different price points for different sets of services; others show their commitment to their clients’ scheduling challenges by being more accessible on weekend or evening hours.
If you decide to offer different packages, it’s likely that your own values and your own point of view will show up more clearly in the bundling of your services.
- Creates and Shows Value
Sometimes it is easier to create and show the value of your work through packaging.
For example, perhaps you work in a manualized manner with your clients on a weekly basis for an average of 3 months per client at a rate of $100 / hour.
A different way of packaging that is to bundle 12 hours of therapy for a single price point of $1200.
It’s simply a different way to offer the same service at the same price.
The difference is that one is easier to understand than the other in terms of what your client will be getting, the time involved, and what will be your client’s financial investment.
- Differentiation from Other Therapists
Because most therapists don’t don’t take time to consider how they package their services and what options are available to them, you can often end up blending in with the therapists up and down your street.
Packaging can help you stand out from the crowd; it can make you more recognizable and your services more remarkable.
- Displays a Peek Inside
Packaging can also give your referral sources and potential clients a peek inside the experience of working with you.
By taking the time to provide a better or more complete explanation of your services and the elements involved, you are creating an opportunity for your clients to make better and more informed choices.
- Highlight Tools and Methods
Sometimes it is your methodology and tools that you want to highlight.
Packaging allows you to do that so that your clients can more easily see what you include in the work that you do.
- Predictable Income and Forecasting Revenue
One of the most difficult things for therapists in private practice is not being able to easily predict their incomes.
By bundling your work, you may be more easily able to forecast your revenue over a period of time.
For example, if you sell a package of 6 hours of Friday sessions to be used no later than by X date, you can have a more predictable income over that period of time than by selling individual units of time.
- Better Manage Your Time
Bundling your services can also allow you to better manage your work hours and work flow.
Consider the difference between waiting for the phone to ring and then booking your individual clients as they see fit to call for sessions week after week rather than by pre-selling a package of standing Friday appointments for the month.
Or, perhaps you offer pre-marital counseling . . . typically totalling four one-hour sessions over a two-month period.
You can schedule those as you go . . . session-by-session or you can sell them as a package with the four dates pre-determined at the time of purchase.
Notice which one gives you more control over your schedule (and gives your clients more time to manage their own schedules better, too).
- Identify Client Commitment and Willingness to Invest
Packaging your services for your clients can also help you to identify your client’s level of commitment, trust, and willingness to invest in herself through your work.
That’s not to say that a client who chooses to work with you session-by-session is less committed; but, it’s likely that you are better able to more quickly recognize a client’s willingness to invest in herself and her trust in working with you when she is able to commit upfront to a term of engagement more so than one who does not.
- Helps Client Consider More than Just Your Hourly Rate
It’s common for clients who are unfamiliar with mental health services to simply compare hourly rates of various therapists to determine who they will ultimately choose to engage for psychotherapy.
While you know that there are many factors that should go into assessing goodness of fit and making that choice, clients who are new to mental health services are often so uninformed as to not know what to look for or what to inquire about when comparing various professional offerings.
Your packaging can provide additional information that allows them to consider far more than simply a dollar-for-dollar comparison.
- Helps You Tell Your Story
Your story is a key piece of your branding as a mental health professional.
It’s what helps set you apart and makes you unique.
Your packaging can be one part of that story.
It underscores what you believe to be important – and what you do not.
It demonstrates the various elements of your work that you choose to combine and believe to be the most effective ways for you to work with your client.
For example, if you are a psychotherapist who identifies as one who is offering Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), then by definition you are offering a package of weekly individual psychotherapy sessions provided by one therapist and also weekly group therapy sessions provided by a different therapist; and, together you are providing content and processing of four specific modules (including mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation) as designed by Marsha Linehan.
Your package of DBT that you offer tells a specific story about the elements that you believe to be critical in helping your clients and how they are best combined.
- Facilitate Ease of Purchasing
I don’t know anyone who likes to feel nickel-and-dimed.
Most clients don’t like it and most therapists who I know don’t like doing it, either.
Bundling your services rather than selling them one-hour-at-a-time, also makes it easier and faster for you and your client to complete the buying cycle.
It’s one transaction and then it’s done.
Are there other things to consider when deciding whether or not and how to package your counseling and psychotherapy services?
In my next post, I’ll be sharing 8 Things for You to Consider in Preparation for Creating Packages of Clinical Services (including the ethical musts).
In the mean time, if I’ve left out other benefits to packaging your services, please do leave them below!