Perspective on Practice

Over the past five years, the APA Practice Organization (APAPO) has surveyed its members three times — in 2008, 2011 and again last fall — to explore practice characteristics, professional interests and needs, and awareness and perceptions of APAPO activities. The 2013 survey was constructed to allow for some longitudinal analysis. 

Overall, the survey results corroborate that APAPO’s strategic priorities are in line with member needs and concerns.

We received more than 2,500 responses to the 2013 survey from members at all stages of their career, from early career practitioners whose doctoral degree was awarded within the past seven years, to the 30 percent of respondents who have been in practice more than 30 years.

Independent solo and group practice remain the most prevalent practice settings, with nearly 70 percent of respondents selecting independent solo or group practice as their primary practice setting. Non-federal hospitals, mental health clinics and college or university counseling centers were the most frequent institutional practice settings with 5 percent or more of respondents selecting one of those locations as their primary or secondary practice setting. 

Despite nationwide economic conditions over the past five years, about half of respondents reported earning more than $100,000 annually, up nearly 5 percent from 2008. Survey results indicated that the percentage of self-pay patients has held comparatively steady over the past five years.

In a new question for 2013, participants were asked to select their top source of information on several topics. More than 63 percent of respondents indicated APAPO is their primary source of information for practice guidelines and more than 56 percent selected APAPO as their top source for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and regulatory compliance information.

The survey also revealed that private sector reimbursement, the impact of health-care reform on practice and Medicare reimbursement top the list of practitioners’ concerns. We also saw a significant rise since 2011 in members who are “extremely concerned” or “concerned” about clinical practice guidelines, electronic health records, accountability and outcomes measurement.

These issues of concern are corroborated by the fact that 98 percent of respondents indicated that protecting reimbursement for psychological services is an “extremely important” or “important” activity of APAPO. That number is up from 92.5 percent in 2011. Ninety-seven percent of respondents also selected legislative advocacy efforts as a top APAPO activity, as compared to 89.1 percent in 2011. More than 87 percent selected educating the public about psychologists and psychological services, raising psychology’s visibility in the marketplace and helping states protect the doctoral degree as the standard for psychologist licensure as top APA Practice activities.

Among the most significant differences between early career psychologists and other APAPO member respondents was in anticipated changes in professional activity over the next three to five years. Early career psychologists indicated they were more likely than life status members or all other respondents to further diversify practice activities and skills and increase their use of technology for professional purposes. We are able to analyze responses from subgroups of early career psychologists and life-status practitioners, though we consider the subgroup findings directional only given the limited number of responses.

We will continue to report additional findings in our APAPO publications, including Good Practice magazine. 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 the Practitioner Helpline at (800) 374-2723 or send an e-mail to Practice.