January 15th, 2011

Earning a Living Outside of Managed Mental Health Care: 50 Ways to Expand Your Practice

Unique resource is fun, worthwhile read

(January 2011 Issue)

“Earning a Living Outside of Managed Mental Health Care: 50 Ways to Expand Your Practice”
By Steven Walfish
American Psychological Association
Washington, D.C., 2010

By James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA-D

Many books are available to mental health professionals (MHPs) that offer advice and direction for building and maintaining a private practice. I’ve read most of them. This book, edited by psychologist Steven Walfish has a single purpose: educating MHPs about surviving and prospering financially in the era of managed care.

Walfish’s formula for the book is creative. He solicited contributions from 50 “everyday psychologists” who have been able to build lucrative practices, in part or based wholly, on activities not covered by insurance reimbursement. He also had them follow a uniform chapter format: they describe their practice, related business elements, likes and dislikes and tips for getting involved in the respective specialty area. The chapters are brief, between three to four pages in length, yet filled with useful advice and recommendations.

Among many laudable features of the book, I enjoyed the non-academic narrative of the chapters. Indeed, the feeling when reading the book is one of sitting with an experienced colleague over lunch or a cup of coffee, listening intently and having your questions answered succinctly and with good humor. I applaud the editing because getting 50 professionals to write this way is no meager accomplishment!

Another strength is the diversity of practice areas covered. Some topics are expected, for example, specializing as a MHP in organizational consultation, family psychology, forensics and vocational counseling. But where else will you find recommendations about practice opportunities for helping dog owners become better parents, advising family-owned businesses and coaching traders, investors and financial planners? However, I must admit that the chapter on “tantric sexuality education” left me scratching my head!

There are several ways for using the book effectively. One benefit would be learning about many overlooked sources of earning potential that can help expand or supplement one’s practice. If you anticipate getting involved in such endeavors, the many suggestions will help with first steps. And if you are in a bit of a rut practice-wise, the book will inspire you to think about other worthwhile and satisfying pursuits.

This book stimulates, encourages and is fun to read. There is really no reason to be handcuffed by managed care restrictions or to think that as a MHP you must rely solely on third-party payers. I’ve not seen a book similar to this one on the market so it is a unique resource that deserves the widest attention from the professional community.

James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA, is senior vice president, applied research, clinical training and peer review at the May Institute in Norwood, Mass.

By James K Luiselli EdD ABPP BCBA-D

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