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When Therapists Die

I recently inherited several clients from a therapist in our area who suddenly died. It reminded me that I don’t have a “Therapist’s Professional Will.” Synchronously, a friend emailed me a link to a guide to creating them on Ken Pope’s site. Ken Pope is THE BEST information curator working in psychology. More on him later, but reading his guide and woke me up:

Holy cow there will be a lot to think about for whomever picks up the pieces when I’m gone!

Of course, a friend of mine has an (out of date) list of clients and their phone numbers to contact. But Pope asks, who has a copy of your office keys? Who will tell your colleagues? Is it in your informed consent that your executor may access client records?

Here’s an excerpt from this excellent guide to making a therapist’s professional will:

Therapist’s Guide For Preparing a Professional Will

Kenneth S. Pope, Ph.D., ABPP & Melba J.T. Vasquez, Ph.D., ABPP

Only therapists who are invulnerable and immortal don’t need to bother preparing a professional will.

We all share many vulnerabilities. We can’t wall ourselves off from the unexpected. At any time a drunk driver, stroke, mugger, heart attack, fire, plane crash, and countless other unwelcome surprises can strike us down. It is an ethic of both personal and professional responsibility to take our mortality and vulnerability into account in our planning.

A professional will is a plan for what happens if we die suddenly or become incapacitated without warning. It helps those whom we designate to respond promptly and effectively to our clients’ needs and to the unfinished business of our practice. It gives others the basic information and guidance that can be so hard to come by at a time of shock and mourning.

We recommend preparing a professional will as early as possible. We cannot schedule our personal misfortunes or postpone accidents so that they happen only late in our careers. We must prepare for the possibility that something can happen to us–robbing us of our ability to function–at any time, without warning.

No standardized one-size-fits-all professional will works well with every therapist or situation. The next sections provide a set of steps to help you create your own professional will so that it fits your needs, resources, setting, and practice.

Here’s the URL: http://kspope.com/therapistas/will.php

It’s from a book that also looks great:

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