Private Practie Toolbox

Social Collaboration For Shrinks: Add Your Favorite Practice App To Listly

Two heads are better than one...and two thousand heads are infinitely better. Come on, private practice shrinks, let's do some social collaboration with Listly.

Earlier this week I introduced you to the concept of online social collaboration and suggested some possible ways it might be useful in private practice. I invite you to join in an easy social collaboration experiment by adding to my list of mobile apps I use most for managing my private practice.

As a tech geek and social media freak (and yes, I think these diagnoses should be added to the DSM 5), I delight in the brilliant new mobile apps that are available for fun, for learning and for business. I have my favorite iPad and iPhone apps that I use, but I want to draw from your collective experiences and see what apps you recommend.

Enter Listly (lists made easy + sharable + fun), a really cool and easy to use social media collaboration tool that you can embed in a blog post or website (see below). Here are my favorite private practice apps, links, and description of their use. Will you add yours to the list below?  Here's the process:

  • Click the "Sign in" button on the top right side and sign in with Facebook or Twitter (if you don't have a Facebook or Twitter account, then I'm surprise that you're reading this blog)
  • Click the "add to list" pink button on the left side
  • You'll see pop-up box with the option to add item with or without a link
  • Add your suggested app
  • Fill out the short form with item link (if you have it) name, description, tags
  • Click "add item" button on the bottom of form
  • While you're at it, see the "like" and "dislike" buttons on the side of each list item? Feel free to vote on ones that you like.


View more lists from Julie Hanks, LCSW


Thanks for participating in this social collaboration experiment. Fun, huh? More on social collaboration in the coming weeks! If you think of a practice related list you'd like to start, please post a link in the comment below so we can add to your Listly.

(c) Can Stock Photo

A Shrink's Guide To Self-Publishing (part 2)

In part 2 of "A Shrink's Guide To Self-Publishing" Stephanie Adams, LPC walks you through the process of organizing and completing your book and preparing it for publishing. Read part 1 here.

DSC_0661 Creative Commons License photo credit: Salem (MA) Public Library

Last week, we talked about how self-publishing can be a shrink's dream second income AND do wonders for their practice by increasing awareness of their expertise. But at the same time many of you who might consider this path worry that no matter how much you like the idea in general, you could never actually write a whole book.

I'm telling you now, don't sell yourself short! Think about it. What is therapy? A large part of counseling is simply listening to the client's story and creating together a different, better story of a life they can choose to lead. Probably at least once a session, you will find yourself doing things like attributing meaning to an event in the client's past, explaining a difficult concept to them, teaching a technique, or painting a verbal picture. That's storytelling, and you can do it on paper just as easily as you can do it in person!

What's Your Book About?

This is not an answer you come up with on a purely intellectual level. One might say all writers are intimately tied to our material. But since the counselor's vocational pursuits are so deeply personal, our stories will be even more so in many ways. So instead of coming up with a topic out of thin air, turn inward. What is your message to others? A practical way to start this process of discovery is by writing down things you say to clients every day. This will start to tell you what you are passionate about, and what you desire your clients to learn from you. By the time you're finished with that initial burst of energy, you should have 2-3 pages of handwritten ideas…or more! As you look over these pages, you will start to see a theme take shape from even seemingly disconnected ideas.

The easiest way I've come up with to find your theme is something I call "chunking." It involves taking your brainstorming sheets and breaking into "chunks" the ideas that go together. For example, say you've written, "dancers, artists, art therapy, painting, family therapy, eating disorder." Which of these go together? The answer to that question IS your theme. If you find yourself creating from these pages a mental narrative that involves the local school for the arts, eating disorders, and new techniques you've discovered, then it sounds like you've got an idea you want to share about a new method art students can use to conquer an eating disorder.

My "theme" is pure conjecture - but that is why I shared it. You will come up with a completely different idea from the same pages of notes than another person will. It's not important that you include all the elements you wrote down on your brainstorming sheets, or that you say what you think someone wants to hear about. What's important is that you discover the idea you're meant to share.

Once a theme has become clearer to you - because it WILL evolve as you get into the work of writing a book - you must ask yourself if you need to narrow or broaden your topic to do the subject justice. This is another highly subjective area, but I have confidence you can come up with the right choice for you. Take the example above. There are many art students out there, and many different kinds of therapy for eating disorders. So what should you focus on?

Let's say that you have a background in painting, and that is what you are most qualified to comment on. At the same time, you realize that dancers are more susceptible than other kinds of art students to eating disorders because of the focus on body image. Now, you could write about all the different groups you conduct, and all the kinds of therapy you are qualified to perform. But, you could do the most good writing a self-help guide to painting female figures in order to help dancers recover a healthy body image. This is the most precise definition of who you can help, and that is what is important.

If you cannot identify your reader, they will not be able to identify themselves as someone who can benefit from reading your book.

Once you have identified your reader, ask yourself what sets your book idea apart to the point that this potential reader will pick it up and say, "Hmm, I've never heard about this quite this way before." In order accomplish this result; you have a narrow range of specific options. The first option is to have a new piece of information no one has discovered before, which is hard to do in this day and age. The second option is to focus on an aspect of a problem no one has covered before, and the third is to deliver the information in a way no one has done before. How will you make your book stand out?

The Book Takes Shape

Flip back to the first few pages of notes you made, and take a moment to elaborate on the ideas you've started there. When you've done some more free writing, look over what you've come up with and start "chunking" again. This time, of course, you're starting from a narrower premise, so your specific chunks will become not book ideas, but chapters of your existing book idea.

Look at what you have. Maybe one cluster of ideas explains why this issue you're circling around is a problem. Another cluster of ideas tells your potential reader what will and won't work when addressing this issue.

Is it sounding a little less scary? I hope so! Writing nonfiction, like therapy, is just telling a client about a problem you see and how you'd like to help them overcome it.

Speaking of nonfiction, as you're allowing your chapters to take shape, start thinking about what kind of nonfiction book best suits the material you're sharing. Should you write a self-help book, generally written in the second-person and including exercises for the reader to work through on their own? Might you be writing a textbook for classroom use, or a training manual? Maybe your book would be best served as an inspirational journal? Or what if you're a play therapist, and your child clients would benefit from a children's picture book?

This is your book! Create the one you want!

Preparing Your Book For Publication

We've already talked a great deal about the process of formatting and submitting a book to be self-published through a service, but before then you want to make sure has been edited to the best of your ability. I don't recommend doing this completely on your own. If you can afford a line editor, great…but they are quite pricey. A less expensive option is to join a writer's group and exchange manuscript editing services with others in the group that are seeking publication.

Of course, with this kind of group, you will get varying levels of editing ability. That's why if you're going with lay editors, it's best to allow for each individual editor to help you in their area of strength. For my book, I had two or three people help me read the book for accuracy within my field. I had someone who knew my style of writing to check for clarity. Another helpful reader pointed out cohesiveness. And I was also fortunate enough to have someone read my book who was an expert in grammar and punctuation.

Almost even more than the content, your readers will judge your professionalism by the level at which your material is presented. If your book is grammatically accurate, focused, and easy to understand, you will rise in their esteem. If your book is instead riddled with mistakes and they can't understand what it's about, your venture into self-publishing could end up hurting you instead of helping you.

Gettin' Things Done Creative Commons License photo credit: UWW ResNet

Promoting Your New Expertise

After your book has been released, share it with people! Start a blog book tour, such as the one this article was written for. Send an announcement to your email list and share it with members of the community. Display it in your office, and have business cards printed up with the information on how to purchase your book. Organize a workshop or small group around your topic, and hand-sell the book afterwards.

Remember, writing a book says you're serious about your topic, so you want to encourage everything that puts you closer to becoming the go-to person within your niche. Don't worry - you will still get a chance to explore other aspects of your career in the future, but for now you want to recede into your niche and stay there! You are cultivating an expertise, remember?

When you love the topic you wrote about, sharing it can be a joy, because you're talking about something you love. Be creative, and have fun with it.

Any Counselor Can Do It

Many, many counselors want to investigate multiple streams of income, but they're scared because it's not something we're taught how to do. While this is an undoubtedly simplified version of the self-publishing and writing process, the purpose of this article is to show you how easy it is to do. Consider it Self-Publishing 101.

Regular people like you and me can make good money and realize dreams through self-publishing. I want you to be inspired and encouraged that you can do this and be a big success on your own terms.

Two months after publishing my book, I have already recouped my initial investment. That could be you. From now on, every royalty I earn is pure profit. Since I published the book, I have also opened up more streams of income by training counselors in teleseminars, and taking on counselors as consulting clients. All because of my book! What further streams of income might YOU open up by venturing into the world of self-publishing?

Stephanie Ann Adams, MA, LPC is the co-author of "The Beginning Counselor's Survival Guide: The New Counselor's Plan for Success from Practicum to Licensure" (available now in paperback and e-book) and the owner of Beginnings Counseling & Consulting, where she provides counselor innovation consulting and life counseling for emerging adults.

[Video] Peek Inside An Office Overlooking A Lake!

I've had an amazing response to my call for therapists to let us peek inside your office by submitting a virtual office tour video. It's been so fun to see inside the waiting rooms and offices of other shrinks. I never realized how many therapists shop at IKEA! Our first virtual office tour is the office of Peter Hannah MA LMHC, in Seattle, WA. I love Peter's video because his warmth and genuineness really comes through on the video. And I have to admit that I am SO jealous of his view. Water is amazingly therapeutic. Thanks Peter for letting us peek into your office space!

To learn more about Peter's practice visit

If you're interested in submitting a YouTube virtual office tour video get details here


Therapist Roll Call: Join Private Practice Toolbox Facebook Group

Call it group therapy for therapists. Connect with other like-mined therapists in my closed Facebook group and share resources, ideas, practice building tools, successes and failures. Must be a licensed mental health therapist or therapist in training be added to the group.

Click here and request to join the Private Practice Toolbox Facebook group

  • If you're not familiar with Facebook groups, you'll have to join as your personal profile. Unfortunately, at this point you can't participate as your Facebook practice page.
  • Your posts in the group will not show up in your other Facebook friend's newsfeeds, even though it may show up on your feed.
  • As you get to know other therapists in the Facebook group it's OK to be selective in who you add as a "friend" to your personal profile. There's no pressure to add anyone in the group as a "friend" on your personal profile.
  • My goal in creating the group is to have a fun and supportive forum to share ideas with each other in a more dynamic way than just through blog comments.
  • I'll post articles from this Private Practice Toolbox blog in the Facebook group so we can discuss them. Feel free to post helpful practice building resources that you find with the group, too.

I'm looking forward to talking with you! So, what are you waiting for?

See you in the Private Practice Toolbox Facebook Group

6 Reasons I'm Obsessed With Wordpress

WordPress is a fantastic platform for your private practice website. Originally a blogging platform, it's commonly used for websites because it's user friendly, functional, and easy to customize. I'm completely "in love" with it. For clarification, I'm talking about that is installed on your web hosting system, not - a web-based blogging platform. Since I changed to WordPress about a year ago for my practice website, I've been able to create a more dynamic and interactive website with fresh content, social media interaction, and an integrated a blog.  So here's more about why I love WordPress:

1) You can be the webmaster

Even without knowing HTML, you can be the webmaster of your website with the ability to customize the function and appearance at any time. You can easily add or delete pages, change the color scheme, add blog posts, and customize the features at any time and from anywhere. Once I paid to have the basic WordPress site installed on my web host and had a few custom images made, I took over from there.

2) Free themes

WordPress allows you to "try on" different themes to your site with the click of a button. A "theme" is the skin of your site -- the format, colors, layout, etc. There are many free themes available, in addition to customized themes for a variety of fees. is a great site to explore variety in custom website themes.

3) Plugins and widgets galore

Plugins are tools that extend the functionality of your WordPress site and allow customization to your site. Widgets are WordPress plugins "that add visitor visual and interactivity options and features, such as sidebar widgets for post categories, tag clouds, navigation, search, etc." (

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • YouTube Videos -- feeds YouTube channel to websites
  • Author Bio -- shows customized bio at the bottom of each blog post
  • Amazon Associate -- integrates a bookshelf of our recommended books with a link to buy on
  • Google Analytics -- tracks visitor information.
  • Constant Contact API -- integrates our newsletter sign up on the website.
  • SexyBookmarks (by Shareaholic) -- add social media share links to each blog post.
  • Share and Follow -- adds social media links bar on pages.

4) Easy to navigate

OK, that one's partially true. Though navigating the WordPress dashboard can be a bit overwhelming at first, once you're familiar with it, you can easily navigate it. For example, my and sites are built on WordPress, so when I started writing for PsychCentral (also built on WordPress) it was easy to jump right in.

5) It's cheap!

After paying for domain registration, web hosting service, and basic site installation costs, there are minimal expenses to update and maintain your WordPress website. I will occasionally hire a web designer to consult or add elements that are beyond my abilities, but that is the exception. I used to pay around $60 a month for a website service but I quickly outgrew the options they provided. Even with the start up costs, WordPress has been a cheaper option and much more fun to create a dynamic practice website.

6) Integrated blog

One of the reasons I started looking  for a better website platform was that my current site platform didn't allow for an integrated blog. I had a blog on an external blogging site, but hated sending my visitors away from my private practice website in order to read my blog. Since WordPress is a blogging platform, visitors can stay on our site and read blog posts.

What platform do you use for your practice website?

Are there any other WordPress lovers out there?