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Trained at Northwestern University, Dr. Stein has worked as a teacher (Rutgers and Princeton Universities), researcher, consultant, and clinician with over 25 years experience in the private practice of clinical psychology. He was Chief Psychologist at Forest Hospital and has consulted for the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Black Hawks, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Right Management Consultants, and Rush North Shore Medical Center. Dr. Stein served as an expert appointed by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in the case of K.L. vs. Edgar, which involved the evaluation of the Illinois Department of Mental Health. He is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, the American Psychological Association, and the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology, as well as being licensed in the State of Illinois.
First, we would like to know a little about your practice.
When did you begin your practice?
I began my private practice in 1982 after several years of hospital work. My hospital experience was extremely useful, allowing me to evaluate and treat a much wider range and severity of disorders than one would commonly see in outpatient practice.
Do you have a specialty?
What are your personal strengths as a practitioner?
I listen with intensity. I’m quick to assist the patient to see underlying, self-defeating patterns of thought and behavior. I’m also able to win a patient’s confidence in my ability to help, and in my genuine concern for their well-being.
What is one method you use to promote your practice?
I’m at the point in my career that I do very little to promote myself, although my web site, www.drgeraldstein.com/, has been a very helpful means of promotion. Most referrals now come from satisfied patients, other therapists, and insurance companies. I should mention that listing on ABCT’s referral directory also produces contacts from potential patients. Earlier, however, I took potential referral sources to lunch, and sent out mailings describing my practice to health care professionals.
What “tips” can you offer to colleagues just opening a practice?
It is a difficult moment to begin a private practice. Ideally, have a full-time job and gradually build your referral base by getting your name on managed care panels, giving talks, and making personal contact with general practice physicians, who may well be grateful to know that they can rely on someone who is an expert in an area that is outside of their own comfort zone. Also, don’t jump into private practice until you have a few years of experience under your belt; most people are grateful to know that their potential therapist has a few gray hairs and the wisdom that (we hope) comes with experience and age.
What sorts of literature do you make available in your waiting room that describe evidence- based therapy?
I have used the fact sheets available from ABCT, as well as the usual range of newspapers and magazines.
What self-help books do you suggest to your clients?
I recommend Feeling Good by David Burns. For a more macro view of therapy, relationships, and life, I frequently suggest Codependent No More by Melody Beattie and a couple of the titles by Alice Miller, including For Your Own Good.
What one book do you recommend as a “must read” to improve your practice?
David Barlow’s Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders
Next, we are interested in your continuing education activities.
How do you stay current with new research or advances in the field as applied to your practice?
Books, newsletters, journals, and case discussions with colleagues.
Where do you earn your continuing education credits?
I attend a variety of workshops and conferences.
We would also like to know a little about you personally.
Who was your mentor?
Jim Bryan, while I was in graduate school at Northwestern; and Truman Esau, with whom I worked extensively at Old Orchard Psychiatric Hospital.
What is the last book you read?
The Political Brain by Drew Weston, a clinical psychologist. This is very much worth reading by any cognitive behavior therapist interested in how emotions are engaged to influence (and can be used to alter) cognitions and behavior, in this case the thoughts and actions of voters.
How do you avoid burn out?
I work four full days a week and take lots of vacation. I exercise by riding a stationary bike most days and lifting weights twice a week. Additionally, it becomes increasingly easy for me to focus on a sense of gratitude for my good luck in life: being able to do something for a living that is stimulating and enjoyable, a loving family, and wonderful friends.
When not practicing CBT, what do you do for fun?
I attend concerts and listen to classical music, read, travel a bit, root for Chicago sports teams, and enjoy a good meal with friends and family. Additionally, I’m the President of the Zeolite Scholarship Fund, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that provides college scholarships to high school students at the (now) inner city high school I attended. This is a labor of love.
Do you have any other “talents?”
I’ve had occasional articles published on baseball, as well as on classical music. I am also the “oral historian” of the Chicago Symphony, something that relies heavily on my skill as an interviewer.
We are also interested in some of your views of CBT.
What do you think is the single most important thing CBT can do for your clients?
Most patients are grateful and relieved to know that there is a systematic way to deal with anxiety and depression. They tend to feel empowered by the collaborative, step-by-step approach found in the “Treatments That Work” Series of Oxford University Press, for example. CBT provides patients with a sense of direction and control.
Where do you see the field of the behavioral therapies going over the next 3 to 5 years?
I suspect that financial considerations will increasingly pressure all therapists to justify their practices. CBT practitioners will be relatively well positioned for this. I would guess that electronic treatment methods, especially those that allow the patient and therapist to see and hear each other in real time, will receive some attention and provoke some controversy.
How do you use the local media to educate your community on the benefits of cbt?
I have written occasional articles for local newspapers, had a regular column a number of years ago, and have been on several radio shows over the years talking about the therapy-related topics
Finally, we would like to know your opinions about ABCT.
How long have you been a member of ABCT?
How has ABCT helped you professionally?
It has assisted me in making possible a number of important professional contacts, not to mention the enormous benefit of increasing public awareness of evidence-based forms of therapy. I am also grateful for its journals and the stimulus that the organization provides to advances in treatment.
What services do you consider the most valuable from ABCT?
vPromotion of the field via its journals and its overall visibility and credibility.
How do you see the future of ABCT?
Advocacy for therapists with insurance companies/managed care will doubtless be increasingly necessary over time. ABCT will also need to be an important voice in the inevitable and necessary reform of health insurance in the United States.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.