A Step-by-Step Guide to “Dinner and a Counseling Session”

counseling private practice tips

counseling private practice tips

If you are not familiar with the”Dinner and a Counseling Session” service that I offered starting in May, you can check out the site at www.mentalwellnesscounseling.com/dinner. Here is what it says:

Dinner and a Counseling Session?

Yes, you heard it correctly. Sometimes a couple doesn’t need weekly counseling. They need a check in, a tune-up, an oil change. Dinner and a Counseling Session is a way for you to start the conversation about your relationship and how it’s going…and get free dinner. We’ve partnered with one of our favorite restaurants Patisserie Amie/Chez Pères.  They have delicious French food. We are starting with only 100 spots to see how it goes. We may expand in the future…but why wait?

We have just launched “Dinner and a Counseling Session.” Here’s how it works:

1. You purchase your Dinner and a Counseling Session Slot, $99.99

2. We’ll email you a checklist of things you may want to talk about. We’ll work with you to set up your date night on a night that works for you.

3. Come in for a counseling session.

4. Walk or drive over to Chez Pères – French Cuisine and use your $50 gift certificate. We are only 2 blocks from one another, why not walk under the stars or as the sun sets? Then continue the conversation, have dinner, and maybe a glass of wine. Why sit through a movie and not talk, when you could make your marriage or relationship better?

Dinner and a Counseling Session, $99.99:

Although I did not make the 100 purchasers mark, every week I have locals ask me about it. It has helped my practice in several ways:

  • Mental Wellness Counseling is now seen as one of the innovators in counseling services in the Traverse City area.
  • I got loads of free marketing.
  • I made some money off the effort.
  • It helped my SEO. I am now #2 in Google only to Psychology Today, which probably won’t change.

Before you launch this, you must have some things in order first. You have to create structure and streamlining so that this does not hurt you. Can you handle 100 new customers? 50? 20? 10? Here are some steps that will probably help you:
1. Make sure you have a LLC or PLLC set up
2. Set up a bank account under the LLC
3. Link the bank account with PayPal
4. Set up a website (not sure how? It would be great if you went through my links on my website. I get a few buck and it doesn’t cost you anything extra: http://www.practiceofthepractice.com/set-up-a-website-for-less-than-15/)

5. Use the PayPal code to set up a payment button
6. Talk with the restaurants and get a deal
7. Launch
I think it is great to practice mustering up courage to talk with local folks.
The Pitch
Here’s the pitch that I used:
  •  Call the general manager and say, “I have an idea called ‘Dinner and a Counseling Session’ I’d love to stop by and chat about having you be the exclusive referral for it.” They may have questions about how it would work, so I tell them over the phone so I don’t waste either of our time. We set up a time to connect.
  • “Hey _____, thanks so much for meeting. I love eating here, my wife and I actually came here for my birthday, so this is sort of selfish, because I want you guys to stay in business. I read about your website online, but what made you launch the restaurant?” I let them talk about their business. It helps them to feel comfortable and gave me some important info. Also, it is fun to get to know a local owner.
  • I said something like, “You just said that you want to offer quality food that is local and amazing. That’s my similar approach to counseling and what my clients expect out of me. If you check out my website, I want to stand out in a way that focuses on quality and great experiences.” Your counseling skills are very similar to marketing skills at this point. You are talking to people, which is what you do all the time anyways. Remind yourself that you are really good at talking about things you are passionate about.
  • “So here’s my idea, let me know what you’re thinking (I assume their on-board in my talking). So a client would pay around $100 and with that would get a counseling session and a gift certificate to your establishment. I usually charge $150 a session, so I’m taking a bit of a hit, but it is going to be great marketing. Really it is more about getting our names out there and helping to de-stigmatize counseling. What sort of deal could you give me on the $50 gift cards?”


  • I wrote a short pitch to the local news outlets. Look for those that are looking for things, not the big papers. Even the big papers have a “Upcoming Events” section. You could say something like: Mental Wellness Counseling and Chez Pere are partnering to offer a fun way to have a date. Dinner and a Counseling Session is a great way for a foodie couple to connect and go deeper than a typical “dinner and a movie.” On July 28, 2012 tickets will go on sale. go to mentalwellnesscounseling.com/dinner to order your tickets.
  • I also did follow-up calls. I said things like, “The average couple may need a relationship overhaul, sort of like on your car. This is meant for people that just need an “oil change” for the relationship.
  • Remember, you are helping them with free advertising. You’re doing the work!

If you have questions, let me know, I’d love to help you launch your own “Dinner and a Counseling Session.”


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