Oh My Paperwork! Dealing With Private Practice’s Greatest Nuisance

paperworkSo you thought you’d be rid of all that paperwork when you went into practice on your own. But it didn’t take long for you to find out that there’s even more of the stuff when you don’t have the support of the office secretary and other administrative staff that come with working for someone else.

PsychCentral’s “Ask the Therapist” experts Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. and Daniel J. Tomasulo, Ph.D., TEP, MFA, recently sat down together to talk about how they manage to keep it all organized.

You can see this video, and lots more great content, on Psych Central’s YouTube channel

Here are some tips from our experts.

Don’t Procrastinate

For a private practitioner, paperwork is a major protection if you ever get sued, subpoenaed, or your work is otherwise called into question. Remember the old adage: If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.

Keeping clear notes and completing other important paperwork also helps you and your clients to stay focused on your treatment goals.

To keep it all together, Dr. Hartwell-Walker strongly suggests you make this personal rule: before you go home at the end of the day, do your paperwork.

“Because you know what?” she says. “After two or three days, you don’t really remember what you said to who, no matter how much you think maybe you will.”

Get Organized

You know all those forms you and your clients had to complete when you worked for someone else? They’re popular for a reason.

One of the best ways to stay organized is to make sure you have the appropriate forms for all the things private practice throws at you. These could include

  • Client Releases
  • Intake Forms
  • Progress Reports
  • Termination Contracts
  • Treatment Plans

So make them yourself, find them online, or ask for templates from your old employer. Standard forms will help you stay organized and take some of the chore out of completing your paperwork.

Use a System That Works for You

There’s no shortage of software, apps, or other products aimed at helping private practice clinicians manage their practices, their paperwork, and their record-keeping. But ultimately, you need to find a system for managing paperwork that works for you.

“At one time I took my entire office and computerized it,” says Dr. Tomasulo. “And it was horrible! It wasn’t what I was used to and I couldn’t get into the rhythm.”

He went back to good old-fashioned, paper-based record keeping for a while, and now he does a mix of paper and electronics, using an iPad for example. “You can use someone else’s system, but the idea is to have something that speaks to you.”

For more tips and advice from Drs Hartwell-Walker and Tomasulo, along with many more of Psych Central’s finest, head over to our YouTube channel

Image courtesy of iosphere at

Oh My Paperwork! Dealing With Private Practice’s Greatest Nuisance

Amy Harding

Amy Harding is an editor at Psych Central Pro. She has worked as a writer and editor in the healthcare field for more than 10 years, in roles as diverse as writing marketing copy for a large hospital system to serving as executive editor at a psychiatry CME publisher. Her career has focused primarily on creating accessible, timely, and reader-friendly professional education for those in the mental and behavioral health fields. You can reach her at


APA Reference
Harding, A. (2015). Oh My Paperwork! Dealing With Private Practice’s Greatest Nuisance. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 11 Mar 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Mar 2015
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