Preparing for the Closure of a Psychology Practice

26 Nov

Close-up of a female's hand holding closed tag on glass door

Course excerpt from Ethics and Professional Wills

“Preparing well for the closing of psychology practice is an essential process that is often overlooked or indefinitely deferred, especially by younger clinicians, due to a variety of practical and psychological factors. Psychologists may feel they are too busy completing the immediate tasks involved in providing clinical care and running a practice to think about such a distant event. They might also perceive the closing of practice as not being a relevant issue in their current lives, thereby denying the possibilities of unexpected incapacitation or death. Certainly, anxiety in considering the prospect of especially premature death or incapacitation deters some individuals from focusing on developing such plans.

In reality, however, the task of closing your practice is inevitable, sooner or later; as Pope and Vasquez (2005) satirically state, “unless a therapist is invulnerable and immortal, it is a good idea to prepare . . .” such plans well in advance, in their view even before first opening your practice. To perform this task ethically involves careful pre-planning, done well in advance, balancing clinical, ethical, legal, financial, emotional and practical considerations. Specific plans depend upon a variety of factors, including whether the closing is planned or unplanned, temporary or permanent, and whether the psychologist is available to participate in the closing.

For example, the temporary closing of your practice for a maternity leave is a planned and temporary event. Based on a specific patient’s clinical needs, the pregnant psychologist might choose to transfer care to another provider or temporarily suspend care but make arrangements for coverage in case of an emergency. However, the sudden incapacitation or death of that psychologist is obviously an unplanned, typically permanent situation, with no chance of future professional availability. Psychologists in solo practice do not have the safety net characteristic of group or agency work environments, and thus have even greater practical concerns regarding unexpected closings, including the transfer of patient care to new providers.

The importance to your patients of preparing for the closing of a practice is underscored within the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (2016), via its inclusion as Ethics Standard 3.12: “Interruption of Psychological Services: Unless otherwise covered by contract, psychologists make reasonable efforts to plan for facilitating services in the event that psychological services are interrupted by factors such as the psychologist’s illness, death, unavailability, relocation, or retirement or by the client’s/patient’s relocation or financial limitations.” The focus of this course is on how to develop a clearly established plan to follow, or for colleagues to follow in the psychologist’s absence, in order to help patients by minimizing disruption to their care, and by addressing their anxieties or distress regarding the change.”

In the course ‘Ethics and Professional Wills’, the author provides practical information on how to meet the APA Ethics Code standards regarding the pre-planning for the closure of a practice, while being sensitive to the possible anxiety and/or resistance that surrounds this topic. Clinical consideration on how to best meet the patients’ needs are discussed and an outline of steps to take as you preplan for the closure of a practice is provided, along with useful templates to help get the process started. To learn more, click on the link below!

Click here to learn more

CE Credit: 1 Hour

Target Audience: Psychology CE

Learning Level: Introductory

Course Type: Online

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the Florida Board of Psychology and the Office of School Psychology and is CE Broker compliant (#50-1635).

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Posted by on November 26, 2019 in Continuing Education, Ethics, Psychology


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