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Thursday 17 March 2011

Psychological Practice: Inside and Out

Welcome to PsychologySalon, the blog.

In June 2011 my book Private Practice Made Simple will be issued by New Harbinger Publications (  In it, I advise mental health practitioners never to start a blog.  Why?  Because they will never keep it up.

So of course I’m starting a blog.

Not wanting to run dry after four posts, I decided that I would only launch once I had at least six months’ posts more-or-less ready to go – and preferably a full year of posts.  

I passed six months a while back and am now closing in on a year.  I don’t plan to slot all of these in and sit back; the backlog is a bank account to be drawn on as necessary.  With any luck, I won’t stop having ideas the moment I press “send” on this post.  (Revealing this is, of course, a setup:  I have no excuse not to last a year.)

Who am I?

I’m a psychologist based in Vancouver Canada.  After graduate school and several clinical positions in Ontario I came to Vancouver in 1993 to manage the Changeways Program at UBC Hospital.  We provided a cognitive behaviour therapy group program for people who had been recently discharged from inpatient care for major depression.

We were funded by the provincial government on the condition that we train practitioners in at least three other agencies in other parts of the province how to provide the same program.  Within a few years our team had managed to get over 45 communities to offer the program, and eventually offered the training workshops nationwide.  The program, after many revisions and updates, continues to grow in use today.

In 2002, during a period of healthcare cutbacks, I took the service into the private sector.  Changeways Clinic ( is now a private mental health centre offering one to one evidence-based psychotherapy, mental health resources for professionals, continuing professional education programs, and public presentations (the latter under the name PsychologySalon).

I’ve always enjoyed writing, and have collaborated on a number of treatment and resource manuals through the clinic.  Our assertiveness training manual morphed into The Assertiveness Workbook from New Harbinger, and experiences with the depression service became Your Depression Map.  Hopefully once Private Practice Made Simple comes out I will focus my efforts on one of the other writing projects I have lying around.

What’s the idea of the blog?

I’d like the blog to offer a kind of “behind the couch” look at psychotherapy and practice – something that will be of interest to both practitioners and the public.

The blog incorporates a series of goals.  I’m imagining that with time some may come to dominate, while others may fade.  Here are some of the themes I’d like to cover:
  1. Private practice management.  Psychologists and other therapists are seldom trained to handle all of the details involved in running a practice, and I’d like to continue the discussion of the issues raised in Private Practice Made Simple.
  2. Mental health services.  After 25 years in mental health service, I have increasingly felt concerned about service quality and organization, and I am skeptical of the way that mental health issues are discussed in our culture. 
  3. Process issues in therapy.  The so-called “nonspecific factors” in therapy appear to account for a greater proportion of therapeutic success than the attention they are given would suggest.  
  4. Cognitive behaviour therapy.  I am predominantly a cognitive behaviour therapist and believe that this way of thinking can offer a great deal to almost anyone attempting to manage life with a human brain.  

…and perhaps the discussion will flow in other directions as well.

So what’s the plan?

I will make major posts weekly, on Tuesdays.  Minor posts may also appear from time to time.  I will keep this up for a year, and then see where it leads.

Consider subscribing, or come back and visit often.

Comments will be moderated, so you won’t see your remarks appear instantly.  I welcome readers’ posts and input, however, so please add to the conversation.  

And…we’re off.

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Want more information on operating a private psychotherapy practice? 

Check out my book Private Practice Made Simple.  It contains information on starting a practice, creating a space, designing a website, getting referrals, managing finances, avoiding burnout, and much more.

The book is available at bookstores, from the Changeways Clinic website, and through Amazon here.

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