Before You Package Your Work
This is the second of the 3-part series, The Ultimate Guide to Bundling & Packaging Your Therapeutic Services.
In the first part, I discussed 12 Benefits of Packaging Your Clinical Work and already therapists are recognizing that there’s more to bundling and packaging clinical services that requires your consideration.
In this post, I will share 8 questions that you should be prepared to answer before you begin creating packages of your clinical services.
However you choose to present your professional services – whether by the hour or by bundling your services – I consider it all to be packaging.
It’s all you choosing how you want to present your body of work in service to your clients in individual or in bundled units that reflect you, your values, your beliefs, and your professional story.
8 Questions You Must Ask
- What are the legal and ethical parameters within which you work?
Mental health professionals are held to a different (and many would say higher standard) of practice than professionals in other fields.
Coaches, educators, massage therapists, etc. are not bound by the same level of responsibilities and professional concerns that licensed psychotherapists are bound to; nor are they prepared to address these same concerns.
It’s important to recognize and consider not only the laws in your geographic area but also the many professional codes of ethics and standards of practice that may inform your work as they relate to the marketing and selling of your therapeutic services.
- What is the impact/ potential impact on your clinical work?
It is also critical that you consider the impact that your packaging can have on your current, former, and future clients.
As an ethical clinician, you are expected to avoid doing harm to your clients and to avoid benefitting (financially or otherwise) at your client’s expense.
Does a client pre-paying for services result in her feeling obligated to continue with your services?
Are feelings of obligation a problem?
Does she have another option?
Does prepaying for services help a client who struggles with accountability?
If a client purchases a package of services and then later decides she no longer wants to use all of those purchased services, do you refund money?
What if your client becomes seriously ill or dies before using all of your services?
Do you refuse to refund money?
Do you do something different?
- What is the impact on your professional image and that of your profession’s image?
With your business hat on, you need to also assess the potential impact a particular package of services might have on your professional image or that of your profession’s image.
That’s because the way you present and implement your work does have the potential to cause harm to your profession and to your own professional image.
And, in case you’ve forgotten, you do have an ethical responsibility to not do damage to your profession!
- Am I a good fit for this client and is this package a good fit for this client?
Goodness of fit applies to the therapist and client; but it also applies to the packages of services you might offer to your client.
Working with a dissatisfied client hardly serves you or your client well.For whatever reason that you and your client discover that you are not a good fit, a referral needs to be made.
What if after purchasing a package of services either you or your client determines that there is not a goodness of fit?
How does packaging of your services effect you in making referrals to different professional?
Or, how do you address circumstances under which a client or potential client asks to purchase a package of services/ products that you believe to be contraindicated for this particular client?
- How do you currently deliver your clinical services?There are lots of ways to deliver your clinical services.
You are likely offering counseling and psychotherapy in one or more of the following ways – either one-on-one, by working with couples / families, or by offering group therapy.
At first glance, that may look like we’re all doing the same things but we’re really not . . . .
- What is the unit of time that you use to deliver your professional work?
The actual time that we spend with our clients varies . . . a lot!
While we often refer to our work as “the clinical hour,” the truth is that some of us spend as little as 15 minutes per session, others 30 minutes, and still others 45, 50 or 60 minutes and still others spend 90, 120 or even much more with our clients at any given appointment.
Make note of the way(s) that you have most often offered your services . . . days of the week, periods of time, etc.
Also note exceptions you might choose to make under special circumstances when offering your services.
- What is the frequency that you prefer to see and work with your clients?
You may be under the mistaken belief that you should see clients on a weekly basis.
However, there is little in the research literature to support this frequency of work as being better than a lesser or more frequent schedule of therapy.
In fact, it’s likely that you can find therapists who swear that more often than weekly is better . . . and other therapists who insist that less often is better.
Think about this . . . .
Some therapists choose to see their clients once and only once; others, see their clients on an ongoing basis and over and extended period of time and at very different frequencies – some for multiple days in a week, others only on an “as-needed basis; other therapists work with clients in a pre-determined and time-limited fashion; and still others work with them in bootcamps, wilderness camps, day camps, intensives and/or retreats.
My point is that there are lots of right ways for you to work with your clients and it’s up to you and your clients to decide how that is to be done.
- Do you work in real or asynchronous time?
You also get to decide whether you will work in real or asynchronous time with your clients.
And, if in real time, will that be face-to-face or via video-conferencing or by live chat?
Or, will you work with your clients in an asynchronous manner via email or chat?
All of these are options that can be part of your offerings and, again, come with their own strengths and limitations.
Your job is to consider what is going to work best for your client and you and what the standards (both legal and ethical) dictate concerning the parameters of your practice given the tools and structure that you use.
No Fortune Telling Required
While you are not expected to be a fortune teller, you are ethically bound to consider each of these questions above and make appropriate decisions that are most likely to not harm your former, current, or future clients . . . or you or the image of your particular discipline in the public’s eye.
Once you are clear about the parameters that you will work within, you’re ready to begin packaging your clinical services and products.
In my next post, I’ll be sharing a little inspiration with you in the form of 30 services and products that you can package up for your mental health practice!
Until then, if I’ve left out some key questions that you think other therapists should ask themselves before packaging their therapeutic services, please do leave them below!
And, if you are finding this series helpful, then please share it with your colleagues and your professors, too!