I'm heading out to APA's State Leadership Conference in Washington DC for four days of intense focus on the viability of psychological practice in the face of the new US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

That's not everyone's idea of a fun weekend; but from the standpoint of learning the facts and brainstorming ways to take action, it's time well invested.

I attend several live conferences each year. They do cost money and take me away from my practice. Nevertheless, I continue to go because I almost always leave with knowledge and contacts that lead to new opportunities.

discussion circleThere's something about a live conference that you can't duplicate via email, conference calls or webinars.

Benefits include:

  • Learning without distraction. You know all those articles and books you've been meaning to read, and those skills you plan to learn "some day"? But other tasks always seem to get in the way. At a live conference there are no such distractions, so that you can focus on what you came for.
  • Exposure to important things you didn't know about. When you're not aware of something that's new or important, you won't think to look for it on your own. At a live conference, experts are prepared to share the latest news and ideas in the field.
  • Networking. Yes, you may keep in touch with colleagues via email, conference calls and Skype. But such communication lacks richness of engagement via gestures, body language, touch, etc. You tend to feel closer to those whom you have interacted with in person, and so do they. Forging personal relationships at conferences gives you the edge when it comes to needing information or favors at a later date.
  • Creative Brainstorming. Being in a room among like-minded people with various backgrounds and experiences is sure to generate new ideas that pop up spontaneously - not just in structured discussion groups, but also at the lunch table, during breaks, and even in the hotel gym.
  • Inspiration to propel you out of your comfort zone. It's easy to stay in the same routine with the same procedures, but that's not conducive to growth. A live conference can help inspire you to move forward, take educated risks and get the support of colleagues to encourage you and cheer you on.

Recognizing the value of live conferences, TPI is holding its first, less than a year since we opened - Private Practice 101: Boot Camp. If you are looking to build, expand or change your practice, please check it out.