This book is a nuts-and-bolts guide to starting, growing, or improving a psychotherapy practice. Graduate psychology programs offer a wealth of information on honing one's therapeutic skills, but often provide little information on the "how to's" of practice:

  • creating a successful business plan;
  • tailoring your practice to suit your needs, talents, and values;
  • marketing your services;
  • finding an office that works for you and your clients;
  • developing forms, policies, and procedures;
  • finding the right attorney and professional liability insurance;
  • responding to licensing, malpractice, or ethics complaints;
  • using computers safely, efficiently, and effectively; and
  • taking care of yourself so you can provide the best possible service to your clients.

All of these topics are covered in this book.

Both psychologists just starting out and seasoned practitioners who want to expand, restructure, or enrich their practices will appreciate the authors' wit and wisdom. In addition to the 15 chapters, the book contains 15 appendices that make key APA professional standards and guidelines and other resources available for consultation in one handy source.

Table of Contents

About This Book

  1. Who Are You and What Is Important to You?
  2. Income, Expenses, and a Business Plan
  3. Creating Strategies for Self-Care
  4. Finding an Office
  5. Finding an Attorney
  6. Finding Professional Liability Coverage
  7. Thinking Through Your Policies and Procedures
  8. Preparing a Professional Will
  9. Finding Clients and Referral Sources
  10. Using Computers and the Internet
  11. Responding to a Licensing, Malpractice, or Ethics Complaint
  12. Avoiding Pitfalls in Psychological Assessment
  13. Avoiding Logical Fallacies in Psychology
  14. Avoiding Ethical Rationalizations

Some Final Thoughts

  • Appendix A: Contact Information for Psychology Licensing Boards in Canada and the United States
  • Appendix B: APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct
  • Appendix C: Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists, Third Edition
  • Appendix D: APA Record Keeping Guidelines
  • Appendix E: APA Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings
  • Appendix F: APA Guidelines for Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection Matters
  • Appendix G: APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Older Adults
  • Appendix H: APA Guidelines for the Evaluation of Dementia and Age-Related Cognitive Decline
  • Appendix I: APA Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services to Ethnic, Linguistic, and Culturally Diverse Populations
  • Appendix J: APA Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists (Abridged Version)
  • Appendix K: APA Guidelines for Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients
  • Appendix L: APA Rights and Responsibilities of Test-Takers: Guidelines and Expectations
  • Appendix M: APA Statement on Services by Telephone, Teleconferences, and the Internet
  • Appendix N: Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists
  • Appendix O: APA Strategies for Private Practitioners Coping With Subpoenas or Compelled Testimony for Client Records or Test Data


About the Authors

Author Bios

Kenneth S. Pope, PhD, ABPP, received graduate degrees from Harvard and Yale and has been in independent practice as a licensed psychologist since the mid-1980s. A diplomate in clinical psychology, he has authored or coauthored over 100 articles and chapters in peer-reviewed scientific and professional journals and books. He is a charter fellow of the American Psychological Society (APS) and was elected fellow of APA Divisions 1, 2, 12, 29, 35, 41, 42, 44, and 51.

Based on his research in the 1970s on therapist-patient sex, he cofounded the UCLA Post-Therapy Support Program, the first center offering services, conducting research, and providing university-based training for graduate students and therapists seeking to work with people who had been sexually exploited by therapists.

Dr. Pope taught courses in psychological and neuropsychological assessment, abnormal psychology, and professional standards of care at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he served as a psychotherapy supervisor. He also chaired the Ethics Committees of the APA and the American Board of Professional Psychology.

In the early 1980s, Dr. Pope was the director of clinical programs for a consortium of community mental health centers and hospitals. He worked with the community and the consortium's staff to meet community needs in accordance with community cultures and ecology. By the end of his work with the consortium, their programs included homebound services (in which therapists and others went to the homes of people unable to travel), legal services for the indigent and people with mental disabilities, Manos de Esperanza (serving Spanish-speaking clients), a 24-hour crisis service, peer-support services, and group homes so that those who were mentally disabled could live independently.

His publications include 10 articles in the American Psychologist and 10 books. The books include Ethics in Psychotherapy and Counseling (2nd ed.), with Melba Vasquez; The MMPI, MMPI-2 and MMPI-A in Court: A Practical Guide for Expert Witnesses and Attorneys (2nd ed.), with Jim Butcher and Joyce Seelen; Sexual Feelings in Psychotherapy: Explorations for Therapists and Therapists-in-Training, with Janet Sonne and Jean Holroyd (APA, 1993); Sexual Involvement With Therapists: Patient Assessment, Subsequent Therapy, Forensics (APA, 1994); On Love and Loving: Psychological Perspectives on the Nature and Experience of Romantic Love; and The Stream of Consciousness: Scientific Investigations into the Flow of Human Experience, with Jerome Singer.

Dr. Pope received the Belle Mayer Bromberg Award for Literature; the Frances Mosseker Award for Fiction; the APA Division 42 Presidential Citation "In Recognition of his Voluntary Contributions, his Generosity of Time, the Sharing of his Caring Spirit [and] his Personal Resources;" the APA Division 44 Citation of Appreciation; the APA Division 12 Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Clinical Psychology; and the APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Public Service.

Melba J. T. Vasquez, PhD, ABPP, has been in full-time independent practice in Austin, Texas, since 1991. She holds a diplomate in counseling psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. She is a fellow of APA Divisions 1,9, 17, 35, 42, 45, and 49 and a member of Divisions 31 and 44.

Dr. Vasquez chaired the APA Board of Professional Affairs and the APA Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest. She has also served on the APA Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice. She served as president of both APA Division 35, the Society for the Psychology of Women, and APA Division 17, the Society of Counseling Psychology. She has been elected to serve as president of the Texas Psychological Association in 2006.

Dr. Vasquez coauthored with Dr. Pope, Ethics in Psychotherapy and Counseling: A Practical Guide for Psychologists (2nd ed.). She also served on the APA Ethics Committee and on the Ethics Committee Task Force for Revision of the 1981 and the 1992 Ethics Codes.

Dr. Vasquez was chosen in 2003 to serve on the APA Board of Educational Affairs Advisory Council on Accreditation, and she has been elected to represent APA Division 42 (Psychologists in Independent Practice) on the APA Council of Representatives for 2004–2007.

Prior to beginning her full-time independent practice, Dr. Vasquez worked in university counseling center settings for 13 years, serving as a university counseling center psychologist at Colorado State University and at the Counseling and Mental Health Center of the University of Texas at Austin. She served as training director at both training centers. She has also taught various courses and published in the areas of professional ethics, psychology of women, supervision and training, and ethnic minority psychology.

Recognition of her work includes the following:

  • James M. Jones Lifetime Achievement Award, APA Minority Fellowship Program (2004)
  • Psychologist of the Year, Texas Psychological Association (2003)
  • Foremother Award, Section on Women, Society of Counseling Psychology, Division 17, American Psychological Association (2003)
  • Senior Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest, American Psychological Association (2002)
  • Columbia University Janet E. Helms Award for Mentoring and Scholarship, Winter Roundtable on Cross-Cultural Psychology and Education (2002)
  • Distinguished Leadership Award, APA Committee of Women in Psychology (2000)
  • John Black Award for Contributions to Professional Practice in Counseling Psychology (2000)
  • Distinguished Career Contributions to Service Award, Society for the Study of Ethnic Minority Issues, APA Division 45 (1999)
  • Outstanding Contributions to Public Service Award, Texas Psychological Association (1999)
Reviews & Awards

This comprehensive, practical guidebook is a must for all new and seasoned clinicians. From attorneys to ethics, from billing to possible errors in logic — it is all here. A remarkable compendium. Kudos to Pope and Vasquez!
—Donald Meichenbaum, PhD, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Hallelujah! A real-world book that understands that private mental health practice is a business for those who went to graduate school to avoid being businesspeople. Provides all of the questions that a prospective private practitioner needs to address and the methods for finding the answers. I strongly recommend it for those about to start and for those who have been practicing in this tightening market.
—Eric Harris, EdD, JD, Risk Management Consultant, APAIT

Ken Pope and Melba Vasquez have produced an incredibly useful, practical book that will be equally of use to new practitioners and to those of us long in the field. I'm going to be recommending this book to all of my PsyD students.
—Laura S. Brown, PhD, ABPP, former President, American Psychological Association Divisions 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women) and 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Issues)

This book is an essential resource for new and seasoned practitioners alike, containing both practical advice and an excellent compilation of hard-to-access resources and guidelines.
—Ronald F. Levant, EdD, ABPP, President, 2005, American Psychological Association; Dean and Professor, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL

This is an outstanding "professional practice guide" that is destined to find a large audience of aspiring and current therapists who hunger for the real-life "nuts and bolts" about how to conduct a successful practice.
—Derald Wing Sue, PhD, Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York

A compact gem of a book. A wise guide for how to think about the kind of resources you will need, along with a comprehensive library of essential American Psychological Association practice guidelines.
—Ronald E. Fox, PhD, former President, American Psychological Association; The Consulting Group of HRC, Chapel Hill, NC

Practical, accessible and comprehensive! A must-have that is useful for students and professionals.
—Beverly Greene, PhD, ABPP; Professor of Psychology, St. John's University, Jamaica, NY

Simply excellent — the authors have blended years of experience to concisely provide a wealth of information on every topic needed to thrive in psychological practice today. A "must have" for students and veterans alike. Bravo!!
—P. Paul Heppner, PhD, President, American Psychological Association Division 17 (Society for Counseling Psychology); Department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology, University of Missouri—Columbia

Drs. Pope and Vasquez provide new (and not so new) independent practitioners with vital practical and business information that their graduate schools should have provided but probably didn't.
—Dorothy W. Cantor, PsyD, former President, American Psychological Association; private practice, Westfield, NJ

Pope and Vasquez raise important questions and provide solid, practical advice about how to be successful in practice. This book could save you a lot of wasted time, money, and grief.
—Tommy T. Stigall, PhD, private practice, Baton Rouge, LA

Pope and Vasquez have done it again! This well-constructed, comprehensive, and practical resource provides the perfect "how-to" guide in a clear, engaging, and readable format; this book packs in everything the young (and many older) practitioners will need without bogging down or becoming overwhelming and contains all the essential, realistic, hands-on, no-nonsense details they never taught you in graduate school.
—Gerald P. Koocher, PhD, ABPP, School for Health Studies, Simmons College, Boston, MA

A "must read" resource for those in independent practice. This book teaches the business of a psychology practice — balancing financial success and a meaningful life.
—Jean Lau Chin, EdD, ABPP; Systemwide Dean, California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University, San Francisco, CA

Drs. Pope and Vasquez have created a valuable and easy to read guidebook that provides the practical, nuts-and-bolts information and resources needed for success in practice. This book is required reading for all practitioners and practitioners-in-training.
—Jeffrey E. Barnett, PsyD, President, American Psychological Association Division 42 (Psychologists in Independent Practice)

This book should be mandatory reading for any psychologist interested in independent practice. The contents contain invaluable information and resources in an easy-to-read format. I wish this book had been available to me when I first started my practice!
—Lisa Grossman, JD, PhD, independent practice, Chicago, IL

From ethics to logistics, Pope and Vasquez cover the practice landscape with skill and depth. This is an invaluable resource for seasoned practitioners and early career psychologists alike.
—Douglas C. Haldeman, PhD, President, Association of Practicing Psychologists, Seattle, WA

Reads like a novel, informs like an encyclopedia. This book is a virtual template for developing and maintaining a successful practice…enlightening for all experiential levels — graduate student to retiree.
—Josephine D. Johnson, PhD, former President, Michigan Psychological Association; private practice, Farmington Hills, MI

Starting a practice? Retooling an established practice? This book's for you!…an invaluable resource with all the nuts and bolts you need to build the practice that is right for you.
—Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, Chair, American Psychological Association Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice, 2005

This fascinating book provides a range and depth of proactive information, from the pragmatic (including appendixes relevant to psychologists across North America) to the philosophical. It offers strategies that are broadly applicable and asks questions that invite attention to each practitioner's unique circumstance.
—Kate F. Hays, PhD, CPsych, founder, The Performing Edge, a Toronto-based consulting practice devoted to sport and performance psychology

This is a CrackerJack of a book for professionals, with a prize in every chapter and appendix.…the authors have put together a very useful book. I wish I had had something like this when I started in practice.
—Jack G. Wiggins, PhD, former President, American Psychological Association; Missouri Institute of Mental Health, St. Louis, MO

I highly recommend this easy-to-read book that offers a wealth of information and resources for both the beginning and seasoned practitioner. It will provide you with the tools and strategies that you need for a truly successful practice.
—Lisa Porche-Burke, PhD, President, Phillips Graduate Institute, Encino, CA

What graduate school did not teach you, Pope and Vasquez have. They bridge the gap between graduate school education and professional psychology. This book is an essential read for all student/early career psychologists in need of truly understanding the intricacies of graduating and practicing in a field where one must learn how to create opportunities and begin to meet the needs of a more diverse client population. An invaluable resource!
—Miguel E. Gallardo, PsyD, Board of Directors, American Psychological Association Division 42 (Psychologists in Independent Practice); President, California Latino Psychological Association; Counseling Center, University of Irvine, CA

How did I survive 46 years as a therapist without this book? It is chock full of essential information and advice that will help me thrive for the next 46 years.
—Thomas Greening, PhD, ABPP, independent practice; Editor, Journal of Humanistic Psychology

Ken Pope and Melba Vasquez bring a wonderful combination of personal and professional perspectives to this extraordinarily helpful hands-on resource. It should be a must-read for all beginning practitioners and a continuing resource for those more seasoned.
—Jean Carter, Past President, American Psychological Association Division 42 (Psychologists in Independent Practice)

An invaluable, reassuring guide in today's world of constant change, this unique blend of thoughtful wisdom, practical steps, and diverse resources is a welcome addition for all practitioners, from those just beginning to those who have decades of experience.
—Pat DeLeon, former President, American Psychological Association

How to Survive and Thrive as a Therapist is a treasure trove of practical tips to ensure success for the early career professional and for the seasoned therapist who wants to branch out and grow. The authors offer straight talk on all the key aspects of a rewarding practice: from money to ethical development to self-care to marketing and beyond. Ken Pope and Melba Vasquez offer wisdom and hard-won experience of a kind practitioners will find nowhere else.
—Carol D. Goodheart, EdD; Treasurer, American Psychological Association; private practice, Princeton, NJ

Read a review of this title from the PsycCRITIQUES® database (PDF, 69KB)

Purchase access to PsycCRITIQUES, APA's searchable database of book reviews in psychology, delivering approximately 20 current reviews each week.