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The Paper Office for the Digital Age

Fifth Edition
Forms, Guidelines, and Resources to Make Your Practice Work Ethically, Legally, and Profitably

Edward L. Zuckerman and Keely Kolmes

A Paperback Original
A Paperback Original
November 21, 2016
ISBN 9781462528004
Price: $82.00
502 Pages
Size: 8" x 10½"
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Significantly revised and updated to include online and computerized aspects of private practice, this essential manual has given many tens of thousands of clinicians the complete record-keeping and risk-reduction tools that every psychotherapy practice needs. The book provides effective methods for obtaining informed consent, planning treatment and documenting progress, managing HIPAA compliance, maintaining clinical and financial records, communicating with clients and third-party payers, and reducing malpractice risk. Drawing from the professional literature, it features key guidance and easy-to-digest pointers about the ethical, legal, and business aspects of practice. With a large-size format for easy photocopying, the book and enclosed CD-ROM include 53 reproducible forms and handouts. Purchasers also get access to a companion website where they can download and customize the reproducible materials.

New to This Edition: See also Clinician's Thesaurus, 8th Edition, by Edward L. Zuckerman, the indispensable resource for conducting interviews and writing psychological reports.

“This excellent book covers all the relevant issues involved in starting and maintaining a private practice….This book should be in the hands of all private practitioners, whether newly graduated or seasoned veterans.”

Doody's Review Service

“Should be among the most well-thumbed works in the library of virtually anyone in independent practice....Thoughtful perusal of and decision-making based on this volume's detailed, inclusive, carefully crafted information should well equip mental health practitioners to establish or update sound and effective practice procedures and materials. Various chapters walk readers through myriad ethical and practical considerations that should underlie the policies and procedures governing their business.... Much of [the book’s] value lies in the information and advice it provides on practicing ethically—and on thinking through challenging or complex situations and decisions.”

The National Psychologist (on the fourth edition)

“An essential resource for every practicing clinician. This book is the premiere guide for professional recordkeeping. Adopting the suggested record-keeping strategies outlined in the text will help to ensure maximum profitability, increase clinical efficiency, and minimize risk for professional liability….An essential resource for any therapist's office.”

The Master's Advocate (on the third edition)

“The entire book is worthwhile and essential reading for every clinician....Solidly written, practical, with easy-to-implement forms and guidelines, this book is the definitive resource for the busy clinician.”

Doody's Electronic Journal (on the third edition)

“This updated fifth edition is chock-full of details about all aspects of managing a practice, from designing a business card and writing a professional will to understanding the nitty-gritty components of paper and electronic record keeping, maintaining confidentiality, and marketing a practice. When questions arise about ethical guidelines, practice management, and documentation of care, clinicians of all levels of experience will want to turn to this book.”

—Joan Davidson, PhD, Co-Director, San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy; Assistant Clinical Professor, University of California, Berkeley

“Opening a private practice in the mental health professions—and keeping up with all the regulatory, ethical, and clinical requirements—can be very daunting. Zuckerman and Kolmes have provided the most comprehensive and current practice management manual for both new and seasoned professionals. The fifth edition provides in-depth coverage of the challenges and opportunities created by the growing use of digital technologies to conduct and document therapy. This manual is not intended to be read in one or two days, but rather serves as a reference for establishing policies and procedures and answering questions that arise in practice. The detailed table of contents and index make it easy for practitioners to locate the information they need. Zuckerman and Kolmes should be credited for helping clinicians from any discipline put the highest levels of ethical and legal standards into practice. As a text, this book is a good fit for courses on professional ethics, risk management, and establishing a professional practice—students will want to keep it at hand long after graduation.”

—Allan E. Barsky, JD, MSW, PhD, School of Social Work, Florida Atlantic University; Former Chair, National Ethics Committee, National Association of Social Workers

“This soup-to-nuts guide to opening and operating a therapeutic practice is a 'must read' for every mental health clinician. For the solo practitioner or small office, the sample forms for every conceivable clinical and business issue from intake to termination are a terrific benefit of this absorbing book. And every clinician should read and periodically reread the excellent chapter on ethics and malpractice. If you have an office manager, that person needs this book. If you have this book, you may not need an office manager.”

—James Morrison, MD, Affiliate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health and Science University

“Private practice involves a great deal of hard work, planning, and foresight. This book does a remarkable job of covering the broad range of concerns related to maintaining a practice based on sound risk management strategies plus current HIPAA regulations. Not only do the authors share ideas garnered from other experienced practitioners, but they also offer a wealth of reproducible forms and abundant supporting references. The fifth edition aptly addresses current technological advances, insurance complexities, and general consumer litigiousness. A 'must have' for anyone engaged in private practice.”

—Ann A. Abbott, PhD, LCSW, past president, National Association of Social Workers; retired Professor and Chair of Graduate Social Work, West Chester University

“When I was training to be a therapist, I studied theory, psychopathology, and treatment—but not the nuts and bolts of running a practice. I learned the rules and policies that guide a successful practice 'on the job,' and it took a long time. The fifth edition of this amazing book contains all the essential information that I wish I had learned during my formal education. It includes expert guidance for therapists working in an environment dominated by social media. This is the ideal text for a practice-based class or one focused on professional issues, and serves as the seminal reference for therapists in private practice.”

—JoEllen Patterson, PhD, Department of Counseling and Marital and Family Therapy, University of San Diego

Table of Contents


1. Essential Documents, Procedures, and Communication Tools

2. Financial Tools and Procedures

3. Health Insurance and Managed Mental Health Care: Billing Third Parties and Getting Paid, Edward L. Zuckerman with Gordon I. Herz

4. Reducing Malpractice Risk by Operating Ethically

5. Getting Informed Consent

6. Intake and Assessment Forms and Procedures

7. Planning and Then Documenting Treatment

8. Confidentiality and Releasing Records

9. Marketing Your Practice in the Digital Age

Appendix A. Resources for Closing a Practice and Making a Professional Will

Appendix B. Professional Liability Insurance Resources

Appendix C. Books on Practice Development and Marketing



Feedback Form

Instructions for Installing The Paper Office for the Digital Age's Forms onto Your Computer

About the Authors

Edward L. Zuckerman, PhD, consults and creates effective practice tools for clinicians. He found his life’s passion while working as a psychiatric aide at New York’s Bellevue Hospital in the 1960s. Dr. Zuckerman has worked with adults in a variety of clinical contexts, acted as liaison with state hospitals, taught undergraduates, and maintained an independent practice in general clinical psychology for many years. He lives in rural western Pennsylvania.

Keely Kolmes, PsyD, is in private practice in San Francisco and Oakland, California. They currently serve as Chair of the Ethics Committee of the California Psychological Association and as California's Council Representative for the American Psychological Association (APA). Dr. Kolmes is a Fellow of APA Division 42 (Psychologists in Independent Practice) and received its award for Best Article of the Year in Independent Practitioner for the influential paper “Developing My Private Practice Social Media Policy.” A graduate of the APA's Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology, Dr. Kolmes is the founder of Bay Area Open Minds, a group of therapists affirming sexual and gender diversity. Dr. Kolmes teaches and consults nationally and internationally on digital ethics and technology issues for clinicians. Their website is


Gordon I. Herz, PhD, has been in full-time independent practice in Madison, Wisconsin, for more than 15 years, after serving 10 years as Director of Neuropsychology Services within the Meriter Hospital Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. His specialties include neuropsychology, health psychology, and rehabilitation psychology. He frequently consults with and provides services to residents in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and senior residential campuses in Madison and surrounding communities. He has been an advocate in health insurance and financing reform. He also created and hosts a peer consultation group for psychologists working in Medicare. Dr. Herz was elected Distinguished Practitioner and Fellow, National Academies of Practice and the Psychology Academy in 2013, and served in 2014 as President of the American Psychological Association’s Division 42, Psychologists in Independent Practice. He regularly provides training opportunities for doctoral students in his practice. He can be reached through his website (


Clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, counselors, and psychiatric nurses in independent or group practice, as well as graduate students across the mental health disciplines.

Course Use

Serves as a supplemental text in graduate-level courses dealing with ethics in psychotherapy, clinical practice, the practice of mental health counseling, and related topics.

The Paper Office for the Digital Age: Fifth Edition: Forms, Guidelines, and Resources to Make Your Practice Work Ethically, Legally, and Profitably and Clinician's Thesaurus: Eighth Edition: The Guide to Conducting Interviews and Writing Psychological ReportsSpecial package offer: Clinician's Thesaurus, 8th Edition, is an indispensable resource for conducting interviews and writing psychological reports. The Paper Office for the Digital Age, Fifth Edition, provides the essential recordkeeping and risk-reduction tools that every psychotherapy practice needs.

Order both items for $98.95, instead of $139.00 if bought separately!

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Previous editions published by Guilford:

Fourth Edition, © 2008
ISBN: 9781593858353

Third Edition, © 2003
ISBN: 9781572307698

Second Edition, © 1997
ISBN: 9781572301047
New to this edition: