Perspective on Practice

The Practice Directorate's strategic planning process is focused on understanding and meeting our constituents' needs. Part of this process involved an extensive e-mail survey of practitioners last July that gave us feedback from more than 3,000 practitioners in diverse practice settings and across the lifespan.

Eighty percent have been licensed for 11 or more years, 60 percent belong to one or more APA divisions and 62 percent belong to their state psychological associations. Of those respondents who are billed but do not pay their Practice Assessment to the APA Practice Organization, less than 46 percent belong to divisions and only 38 percent belong to their state associations. Both groups (paid and non-paid) report similar levels of practice income.

Practitioners' primary work settings included independent practice (61.9 percent), institutional practice (29.9 percent) and academic (8.2 percent) settings. Seventy-eight percent of respondents are in either full- or part-time independent practice (primary or secondary settings). Most respondents (92 percent) provide individual psychotherapy services to adults but only about half provide therapy for couples, families, older adults or children, or perform psychological testing. Half work alone and 60 percent have no staff. Most use networking to market themselves but only 30 percent list in any kind of online referral service.

What is important to practitioners? Defense of the doctoral standard as the requirement for entry into the profession tops the list, cited by 86 percent of respondents. Other important issues are employer recognition of psychologists's value; insurance and managed-care company practices and reimbursement levels; and inclusion of psychologists in the Medicare definition of "physician." Psychologists in institutional practice want us to do more in university counseling centers, telehealth, treatment of seriously mentally ill clients, enhancement of psychologists' existing roles and expansion of CPT codes for work done in health-care settings.

The survey shows we need to increase practitioner awareness of the work we do on their behalf. While 54 percent of respondents felt either well informed or informed about the work of the Practice Organization, 38 percent felt only somewhat informed. However, 80 percent of respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with the quality and timeliness of information received and with our legislative, legal and regulatory advocacy. About half of respondents felt we could do more to help practitioners manage and grow their practices and to provide networking opportunities for them. But overall, respondents demonstrated a strong increase in their satisfaction with assistance in this area compared with our 2006 survey of practitioners.

When we compare our early career psychologists (ECPs) with other practitioners, we found interesting results. For example, our ECP sample was 75 percent female, compared with 53 percent for the overall sample. ECPs are much less likely to be in solo practice and more have a part-time practice as a secondary work setting. ECPs are more likely to have a Web site, do more proactive marketing and are more likely to be listed in online directories.

On the upper end of the lifespan are our dues-exempt life status practitioners, who are 70 percent male: 65 percent of them belong to APA divisions, and 60 percent belong to state associations. Also, 63 percent have a solo independent practice, 73 percent are in part-time practice and 72 percent have no support staff. Compared with other respondents, they report similar levels of interest about advocacy efforts and informational needs, but at lower levels.

As always, I invite you to contact us with your thoughts as we continue to work to meet the needs of the practitioner community. Call us toll free at (800) 374-2723 or send an e-mail to Practice.