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Psychology students in training: Private practice is alive and well.

copyright Angela Taormino licensed to Geoffrey Steinberg, Psy.D.

I gave a talk last week to the pre-doctoral internship class at Pace University’s counseling center on how to get started in private practice.

All across the country little groups like this are running the last miles of the marathon that is doctoral training: internship, dissertation, post-doc hours, license exam. For many who aspire to become a psychologist, private practice is the ultimate destination.

Yet seldom in doctoral training is anyone taught what to do once they reach that destination. In fact, the opposite message is taught: many graduate programs discourage students from their dreams, going as far as saying private practice is dead.

I tried to counter this message, explaining how to navigate the contemporary environment of mental health care, taking into account the impacts of managed care and the internet on the business of private practice.

I believe the freedom and autonomy that come with private practice allow for the highest quality psychotherapy because in other environments–agencies, institutes, etc–bureaucracy and organizational demands have the potential to distract clinicians from the core of their work. Private practice allows us to give our full attention to clients and provides the freedom to work at our best.

The environment for psychologists in private practice has changed over the years, but if managed wisely those can bring vitality to our work. May the students I met last week hold onto their aspirations as they reach the final stretch.

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