Dr. Lynn Friedman: Clinical Psychologist

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Building an ethical, helpful psychotherapy practice
Dr. Lynn Friedman is a skilled clinician, supervisor and coach. She provides tips for clinicians attempting to establish private practices.

How does one go about building a private practice in psychotherapy? This can be particularly challenging especially if one is newly licensed, recently relocated or working in a major metropolitan area that is crawling with therapists.

Although this column is written about establishing a psychotherapy practice, many of these suggestions apply to those establishing private practices in other areas such as coaching, career counseling and others. Here are some preliminary suggestions. Take a three pronged approach. First, continue to develop your skills. Second, begin to network with colleagues and gatekeepers. Third, seek some support for this endeavor. Each will be addressed in turn.

Click here to go to Dr. Lynn Friedman's new website. Where she provides over 30 articles on building a private psychotherapy practice.

Dr. Lynn Friedman: Psychologist, Psychoanalyst

Network with colleagues

It's important to continue to develop your skills through some formal, structured training activity. Pursue your professional interests. Consider entering a training program for family therapists, a psychoanalytic psychotherapy program, a cognitive-behavior therapy program, a child therapy program or some other type of advanced training. Alternatively, consider entering a supervision/consultation group that is congruent with your interests. Also, consider obtaining individual supervision. Engaging in these kinds of activities will have the positive effects. They will allow you to refine and more comprehensively develop your clinical skills. This will enhance your self-esteem. Also, these involvements will help you to establish a reputation as someone who is skilled and committed to continued professional development. Moreover, they will allow you to establish contacts. Finally, starting a private practice for the first time, particularly in a city where you are an unknown quantity can be very challenging. Supervision can help you to provide quality care and help you feel more solidly grounded.

Network with gatekeepers

Identify an interest area and to begin to develop a specialty in it. For example, if you like providing consultation and you have a background working with children and families, you may want to consider establishing liaisons with schools or residential treatment centers. The key thing here is to find a part-time consulting position where you can achieve some visibility. Alternatively, you may want to consider doing some teaching at a community college. For example, if you are a cognitive-behavior therapist, you may want to teach assertiveness training. If you are analytically-oriented, you may want to offer a of developing your self-esteem.

Also, if you are new in town consider establishing a referral network. You can start by putting a group of five professionals together and gradually add people. Ideally, it's important to include exclusively people who are in business for themselves. Specifically, include people who can and will refer to each other. For example, if you work with adolescents, you may want to recruit a family attorney, an adolescent OB-GYN, someone who provides consultation about school selection, etc. In putting together such a group, it is important to consider two things. First, carefully select your colleagues. They should be people to whom you are comfortable referring. Second, do not put people with competing interests in the group. That is, for example, don't include another therapist. Ideally, you should meet one morning a week, perhaps for breakfast, before the work day begins.

Building support for this endeavor

Building a practice in today's competitive market poses special challenges. So it's important to create a support system. My experience in providing consultation to clinicians developing practices has been that the opportunity to discuss practice development must take place in the context of a discussion of clinical concerns. So, you may want to find someone to mentor you in this endeavor. If you pursue this, it's important to be sure to seek out someone with both solid clinical skills and strong skills in practice development.

Another, perhaps more cost-effective, alternative is to put together a practice development group. If you are in a major city you can do this by linking with people all over the city. Because you are not practicing in the same immediate area, you will not be in competition with each other. In fact, if you know skilled clinicians throughout the city, you will be able to provide better quality care.

Tips for psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors and other mental health professionals
  • 25 Tips for Building a Helpful, Private Psychotherapy Practice
  • Improving your clinical work so that you can be a more effective psychotherapist.
  • Connect with Dr. Lynn Friedman
    Dr. Lynn Friedman works with professionals and professionals-in-the-making to help them to achieve their work-life goals.
  • If you'd like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lynn Friedman, feel free to give her a call at: 301-656-9650
  • Corporations on the Couch Read Dr. Lynn Friedman's monthly, Washington Business Journal, column on understanding workplace dynamics.
  • For your questions about relationships, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, check out Dr. Lynn Friedman's new website, The Washington Psychoanalyst.
  • Lynn Friedman, Ph.D. 5480 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD, 20815 (301)656-9650

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