Portland Psychotherapy was founded in 2007 out of a desire to create a different kind of mental health center, one in which the practice and science of psychotherapy go hand in hand. As dedicated therapists and scientific researchers, we (Jenna LeJeune, Ph.D. and Jason Luoma, Ph.D., the co-founders of Portland Psychotherapy), wanted to create a clinic that made effective, science-based psychotherapy available to all in our community. At the same time, we also wanted to be able to contribute to the broader community through scientific research. The vision was not to create the most profitable company possible. Rather, we sought to create an organization whose work really made a difference in both the local community of Portland, Oregon which we love, and also the broader scientific community. The result was a unique business model that, to our knowledge is the only of its kind in the nation: A private mental health center in which the profits go to fund scientific research.
Most researchers, whether they are in academic settings or private research institutions, rely on grants from large corporations or the government, or endowments from wealthy donors in order to fund their work. At Portland Psychotherapy, we wanted a more independent funding source for our research, one that was not subject to the political whims of the day or the interests of large corporations. Instead, we created a business where all the research we do is funded through the revenues we make from clinical and training services. The clinical services portion of our center operates essentially as a not-for-profit, with all its proceeds above what is required for staff salaries and overhead, going to fund the research activities at the center. In other words, the clients that we serve are our benefactors, not the government or large corporations.
Science informs all of what we do, including the ongoing scientific research we conduct on topics ranging from the interpersonal functions of emotion to new treatments for shame, self-criticism, and stigma. From 2013-2015, about 16% of total revenue went to fund the research our center is conducting. By having our funding for our research come directly from the clinical services we provide to those in our community, we are able to keep our scientific research independent from the influences of outside funding sources. It also keeps us accountable to our community, rather than donor organizations.
All of the therapists here at Portland Psychotherapy are highly trained, exceptionally skilled clinicians. They are among the best and brightest and have come from around the country to work here. All could be making more money if they chose to be in a setting where the focus was simply making money. As evidence for this commitment to making a difference versus maximizing profit, Portland Psychotherapy staff provided 509 sessions of low fee counseling through our sliding scale program in 2015. All of the staff here at Portland Psychotherapy are motivated to be here by more than a paycheck. Each one of us share in this organization’s mission and commitment to making an impact and having our work be in the service of something greater than ourselves. It is a unique organization with an extraordinary staff.
Portland Psychotherapy also works to manage it’s environmental footprint. Since much of the cost of building lies in the materials, we refurbished an old house for our office space instead building new. We have installed solar panels and have various policies that encourage us to be mindful of our environmental impact and incentivize responsible behavior and business practices. Read more about our green initiatives here.
We at Portland Psychotherapy are very proud of what we are creating here. We are fortunate to be able to do what we love doing, in a beautiful setting among colleagues that we care about and who all share a similar vision. We are very honored to be able to do this work and are grateful to those, especially the clients that we serve, who make it possible.
For those who are interested, we have published descriptions of our business model in professional outlets:
- LeJeune, J.T., & Luoma, J.B. (2015). The Integrated Scientist-Practitioner: A New Model for Combining Research and Clinical Practice in Fee-For-Service Settings. Professional Psychology Research & Practice46(6), 421-428. Download here.
- LeJeune, J.T. & Luoma, J.B. (2017). Using social enterprise concepts to create a sustainable culture to fund research in a fee-for-service setting . In R.T. Codd (Ed.), Practice-Based Research: A Guide for Clinicians.Routledge Press.
We are also part of a nonprofit that hosts an IRB to offer ethical review of our research, called the Behavioral Health Research Collective. An article describing the creation of this IRB is listed below:
- Osborne, T., & Luoma, J.B. (in press). Overcoming a Primary Barrier to Practice-Based Research: Access to Independent Ethics Review. Psychotherapy. Download pdf.