Book Recommendation:

How We Built Our Dream Practice: Innovative Ideas for Building Yours Written by: Dave Verhaagen, Ph.D. and Frank Gaskill Ph.D.

Reviewed by: Chana Kaiman, LCSW

Whether you are clinician who is just starting out or a seasoned professional who wants to expand, growing your practice is an ever-present goal that takes more than knowledge and experience. You may be a competent professional with superb clinical skills but who is knocking at your door?

Operating a practice is no different than running a business. It sounds daunting without an MBA. You may be thinking what do I know about crunching numbers and advertising? Business and social work are not mutually exclusive; you already have a greater advantage than the multi-millionaire entrepreneur. How? Every day you build relationships, engage clients, strategize and experiment with new behavioral approaches - all basic tools essential for success.

A psychotherapist is trained to enhance quality of life, empower growth, strengthen resolve and stability - those referrals should be coming your way non-stop. And if not, there has to be a good reason why.

If psychology makes people feel better, why aren't group practices as popular as day spas or nail salons? Because those establishments are marketed with an irresistible, sensory activating appeal. How We Built Our Dream Practice motivates the reader to think and act strategically in order to claim that market share of "good feeling seekers." You don’t have to be an executive guru to market wisely, argue the authors.

By following the basic business principles outlined in this easy-to-follow and entertaining guide, you will learn how to define your niche, become distinct in what you do and launch your practice with confidence and success. 

If you are looking for an encyclopedic listing of all the nuts and bolts from office leasing to Xerox machine rentals, look further. But you can be sure this book will prepare you with the impetus and charisma to know who to talk to and how to get what you need.

Aside from the humor and engaging quality, this book is an insider’s view of how two Mental Health professionals take the plunge into group practice. They share researched business prospective, reveal their trials plowing through risks and errors and encourage the reader to duplicate their wildly successful partnership that boasts financial and clinical rewards.

Distilling complex marketing concepts into relatable and concise to do’s, Verhaagan and Gaskill motivate you to resurrect your archived dreams and demystify the journey of becoming an independent provider.

As they scour the leading marketing literature, the authors study the most salient business principles. Not all fun and games, they talk about the “scary stuff” as technical voyages and paperwork; but most importantly, they instruct how to sail through it without getting caught up in the minutiae. You will find the secrets to preparing top notch presentations and what it takes to be a good leader, all condensed into one chapter.

They address the challenges of opposition and fortify you against the “haters and naysayers”. You know you are doing something right when you get opposition. “If you are successful, opposition is likely to increase.” Verhaagan and Gaskill warn.

Mental health professionals naturally are altruistic and often feel that their compensation is secondary to the emotional gratification of helping clients. The authors emancipate readers of the underlying guilt for striving towards better compensation – they give permission to make money and lose money. This book will help you get beyond the “failure factor” and journey into what you think is impossible.

After reading, you will get a sense of what a practice looks like, feels like and how to get started. You may want to relocate to Charlotte, North Carolina and join the Southeast team. Guess what? You can model their success right in your own neighborhood.

Every aspiring clinician wonders…

How do I define my niche market?

How do I get referrals?

How are my services unique?

When do I become part of the professional community?

How do I advertise?

What can I do to increase my revenue?


If any of these questions are on your mind, this book is for you!


Chana Kaiman, LCSW is a psychotherapist, lecturer and consultant. She advises organizations and individuals on branding, networking and improving visibility to expand client base. Chana directs Empowerment Insight - Na'aleh, a group practice that focuses on promoting personal strength and realizing potential.  Chana is the Administrative Director of Society of Americans for National Existence, a grassroots organization dedicated to imparting values and leadership skills through innovative educational programs, technology and media.


For consultation, Chana can be reached at 203-400-3197 or e-mail at