Tripartite model for building a psychotherapy practice

“Dr. Lynn Friedman’s tripartite model for building a psychotherapy practice.” This post has been edited and  republished from my Johns Hopkins University class on, How to build a successful psychotherapy practice.

Hello Everyone – And, Welcome to the Building a Private Practice Class,

I teach, the Johns Hopkins course, “Developing a Successful Private Practice” in the Mental Health Counseling program. Also, I teach, “Introduction to Psychodynamic Theory and Therapy” and an array of Career Coaching/Organizational Consultation courses. In the fall, when I taught my graduate students asked for more. They wanted more information on: how to develop their clinical passions, how to deepen their self-awareness, how to more comprehensively develop their skills, and how to prepare for life as a private practitioner. That is, specifically, they wanted to know: what can I do to become a skilled clinician and an effective private practitioner?

Some were worried about obtaining referrals. All were interested in developing effective methods of providing good, helpful care to their patients. Having been in private practice for many years, my experience has been that dedicating ones professional life to life-long learning and teaching leads to becoming an increasingly skilled clinician. And, that, in turn leads to a successful private practice. Of course, that’s easier said then done. So, I wrote a blog about it.

I love my professional life and everything that goes with it! I love my clinical practice. I love doing evaluation, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. I love supervising and consulting to psychotherapists. I love teaching. I love community education and outreach and I love reading and writing about these very compelling endeavors. So, I decided to write about it, not only for my graduate students but with all of the clinicians and clinicians-in-the-making who share this interest.

As for your questions: if you are in my class, please send them to me. And, I’ll try, if I can, to incorporate them into the class. If you are not in the class, feel free to send me your questions, too. They’ll inform future columns. But, I can’t guarantee that I will answer them as I’m in full-time private practice and my after work hours are largely devoted to family and friends.


I take confidentiality very seriously. For reasons of confidentiality and copyright, I will not be publishing your questions. I’ll share them in the aggregate. I will not be writing about real patients. I will create fictitious patients — people with whom we can all identify. Undoubtedly, we will all recognize ourselves in some of these vignettes because they will be fairly universal. Part of the private practice life entails zealously guarding the confidences with which we are entrusted, the more respectful we are of our patients and clients, the more respectful they become of themselves.

Dr. Lynn Friedman’s tripartite model for building a psychotherapy practice

Over the years, I’ve developed a tripartite model for becoming a skilled clinician. In my opinion, having a gratifying professional life in the private practice of psychotherapy entails three cornerstones:

  1. finding a way of continually deepening our understanding of and empathy for our patients, our clients, and ourselves. This entails obtaining one’s own treatment, supervision and consultation with an eye towards dealing in an increasingly skillful way with patient situations. This growing capacity allows us to use ourselves in the service of the people who we see. Also, it entails creating a work-life balance.
  2. designing and implementing a life long, professional development program. This includes developing a primary area(s) of expertise.
  3. finding a gratifying and fulfilling way to educate ourselves, our colleagues, the public and policy makers about one’s primary area of specialization.

Over the years as I’ve practiced, I’ve treated, supervised, consulted to and taught clinicians at various stages of their professional development ranging from advanced undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh medical students and residents at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, clinical counseling graduate students at Johns Hopkins University, postgraduate psychoanalytic psychotherapy students at the Baltimore Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, psychoanalytic candidates and PSP students at the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis and others. In the context of doing this work, I have found that these three cornerstones provide the bulwark for developing strong and effective therapeutic relationships with patients. This in turn, has led to developing a fulfilling, helpful private practice.

In these columns, I talk about a range of clinical and practice issues. But mostly, my focus will be on taking good care of the patients who we see.

Finally, a note about copyright. Feel free to forward these columns to your friends and your friend’s friends and elsewhere. However, in doing so, please remember that all material is copyrighted and please be respectful of that copyright. Thank you.

A note to my graduate students in the, “How to build a successful psychotherapy practice,”course.

Do you have to read these columns? No. You may find them of interest, so feel free to do so. However, the first day of class presumes no prior knowledge.

I look forward to meeting you all soon. In the meantime, enjoy the weather.


Lynn Friedman, Ph.D.

Dr. Lynn Friedman

Dr. Lynn Friedman, Ph.D., FABP, is a Clinical Psychologist, a Supervising and Training Analyst, and a Clinical Supervisor in full-time, private practice. She provides evaluation, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as supervision to psychoanalysts-in-training and other mental health professionals. Beyond this, she is a board certified, psychoanalyst who teaches at Johns Hopkins University and the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis.

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I provide psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, clinical consultation, supervision & executive coaching. If you are seeking consultation from a psychologist, psychoanalyst, in DC, feel free to call me: 240.483.3530.