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Closing a Psychotherapy Practice: What you need to know!

Richard Bloch, Esq., Christine Courtois, Ph.D.,& R. Patrick Savage, Ph.D.

Workshop Instructional Level: Intermediate/Advanced; should be involved in a psychotherapy practice and aware of necessity of preparing to close a practice prior to doing so.

There is no potential conflict of interest and for this program or its presenter. Please note there there may be references to books that the presenter has written and receives royalties from.

Closing a psychotherapy practice, for whatever reason requires advanced planning and preparation. This workshop will provide an overview of legal, ethical, practical/economic, and clinical issues affecting a psychologist, their staff and colleagues, and clients as a result of both a planned or sudden and/or emergency practice closure. Topics will include: the emotional impact on the therapist, colleagues, staff, and clients, differences between planned and unplanned closings; ethical, legal and financial issues; clinical issues; record management, client management, and the utility/value of a professional will to guide this process.

Whatever the timeframe, the process should allow for a "good enough ending*." The ending will also be determined by the nature of the reason for closing a practice, the strength of the working alliance between the therapist and client, the extent, intensity, and duration of the treatment, the client's diagnosis and status, and the therapist's treatment orientation. Different strategies for ethically yet practically managing the myriad issues presented to the therapist, colleagues, and clients upon closure of a psychological practice will be outlined.

* From the title of book Good Enough Endings, edited by Jill Salber.

This workshop is designed to help you:

  1. Identify the issues involved in different types of practice closings;
  2. Recognizing the responsibilities as a result of closing a practice;
  3. Understand and be able to apply the provisions of the Psychology Practice Act, Confidentiality, Privilege, Records retention, amendment and destruction when a practice closes;
  4. Understand and be able to implement the legal and ethical requirements for handling records and managing the therapeutic relationship when a psychologist retires, dies or closes a practice;
  5. Understand the use, value, and utility of a professional will;
  6. Recognize, set, and be able to maintain appropriate boundaries both within one's self and with others through the process of closing a practice;
  7. Identify, recognize, and manage the array of emotions that accompany this process for everyone involved;
  8. Provide a "good enough ending*" for you, your clients and others.


Richard Bloch, Esq., is President of Shiling, Bloch & Hirsch, P.A. and has been in private practice in Maryland since 1972. He received his B.A. from the George Washington University and his J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law. He is admitted to practice in Maryland, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States. His practice focuses primarily on general business law, health law and representing healthcare providers before the Boards of Examiners, estate planning and civil litigation. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the Maryland Bar Association, and the Baltimore County Bar Association. Mr. Bloch has been General Counsel to the Maryland Psychological Association since 1979. He has written numerous articles and lectures frequently on legal and ethical issues pertaining to the practice of psychology and mental health.

Christine A. Courtois, PhD, ABPP, closed her clinical practice in Washington, DC in 2016 after 35 years and is currently a consultant/trainer, specializing in trauma psychology and the treatment of trauma. In the recent past, she was chair of the Guideline Development Panel for PTSD Treatment for the American Psychological Association and for guidelines on the treatment of complex trauma for several professional organizations. She is past president of Division 56 (Trauma Psychology). She has received the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology as a Professional Practice, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Sarah Haley Award for Clinical Excellence, and most recently the American Board of Professional Psychology, 2016 Distinguished Service Award to the Profession of Psychology.
Dr. Courtois has published ten books and a number of chapters and papers on various topics related to the treatment of traumatic stress, especially complex developmental trauma. Her most recent books are the consumer book It's Not You, It's What Happened to You and the textbooks Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, 2nd Ed., with Julian Ford, Damon Grasso, and Jon Elhai.

R. Patrick Savage, Ph.D. is a graduate of and received his doctorate from The Catholic University of America. He has practiced as a Licensed Psychologist in Montgomery County, serving children, adults and their families in this community for twenty-eight years. He has served in a variety of positions at MPA including President: currently serving as a member of the Legislative Committee. His experience is varied from working in community based mental health programs (Mental Health Association of Montgomery County, Montgomery County Public Schools/Montgomery County Health Department) to consulting with major corporations to now private practice (North Bethesda and Olney areas). He provides treatment for a wide range of mental health issues (AD/HD, depression, anxiety, post traumatic and acute stress, chronic/acute illness, substance use/abuse, marital issues, etc.) in a culturally diverse population ranging in age from 6 through adulthood. He has a special interests in: assessment and treatment of individuals experiencing a variety of disorders affecting brain function from frank injury (concussion, TBI, stroke, etc.) to developmental disorders (i.e., AD/HD, LD, Asperger's , PDD, etc.). Another special interest is working with athletes to enhance their performance through the use of sound psychological principles. Lastly he has served as a guest editor of The Maryland Psychologist, a member of the editorial boards for both the Journal of Applied Neuropsychology: Child and the Journal of Applied Neuropsychology: Adult, as well as having written a book review and several articles. He provides talks on a wide variety of areas including: Assessment, Treatment, AD/HD and LD, Executive Functions, Parenting, and Keys to Raising Successful Children.