Last week I presented a workshop titled “Growing and Sustaining a Private Practice: Opportunities Are Where You Find Them and Where You Make Them” at the Florida Psychological Association.”          It was great fun and there was lively give and take with the participants on ways to make a practice grow.

            In my last column I suggested that clinicians look at websites of their colleagues to generate practice ideas that they may not have previously considered and adapt these to their own practices. This is an example of what creativity researchers describe as divergent thinking. Toni Berhard believes that divergent thinking “opens your mind to possibilities because it leads you to look for options that aren’t readily apparent” (see:

There are two tidbits on divergent thinking that I recently learned. There is “vertical thinking” which essentially means “digging a deeper hole” when things are not going well. In practice that means trying to do the same (or more of) type of work and offering the same types of services that are not currently filling your practice. Then there is “lateral thinking” which is essentially, “digging other holes.” It is the same advice we would give to clients. “What you are doing isn’t working, so why are you trying to do more of it?” In practice, this means using another tool in your toolkit in order to provides services that are wanted and may help you build a sustained practice.

            In addition to exploring the websites of colleagues I also suggest that clinicians consult published books that provide a readily adaptable practice opportunity. Oxford University Press has a series titled, “Treatments That Work.” This includes more than 25 different clinical problem areas with books that are for the client and there is also a therapist guide. Of course one cannot just pick up a book and start doing treatment. Appropriate training and consultation is the ethical command. However, this series of books can be a gold mine for clinicians wanting to expand their practice. The titles include:

  • A CBT Program for Overcoming Alcohol Problems


  • Enhancing Sexuality


  • Stopping Anxiety Medication


  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


  • Managing Tourette Syndrome


  • Coping Effectively with Spinal Cord Injuries


  • CBT Treatment for Coping with Prostrate Cancer


  • Coping with Breast Cancer
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Stress Management
  • Compulsive Hoarding and Acquiring
  • A CBT-Approach to the Beginning of the End of Life
  • Coping with Chronic Illness
  • Mastering Your Adult ADHD
  • Mastery of Your Anxiety and Panic
  • Overcoming Your Eating Disorder
  • Overcoming the Trauma of Your MVA
  • Overcoming Your Pathological Gambling
  • When Children Refuse School
  • Overcoming Insomnia
  • Treating Trichotillomania
  • Preparing for Weight Loss Surgery


These books provide are evidence-based approaches for the treatment of these many problem areas. They are ready-made for the clinician who wants to engage in lateral thinking and provide potential revenue streams not previously considered.

Steven Walfish, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist in Atlanta and a Partner at The Practice Institute ( He is Editor of Earning a Living Outside of managed Care: 50 Ways to Expand Your Practice (APA Books). Direct questions or comments to