The mission of the Institute of Private Practice Physical Therapy (Institute) is to foster understanding, learning, research and related projects to advance private practice physical therapy. The vision of the Institute will be the catalyst for innovative ideas to shape the future of private practice physical therapy.

Purpose of the Institute of Private Practice Physical Therapy

The Institute helps physical therapists to evolve as autonomous professionals capable of serving the public with distinction and capable of providing services to maximize human movement and function, in health and in disease, throughout the life spectrum.� The Institute will serve the entire physical therapy profession, especially those aspiring to, or already in private practice, because the profession cannot realize its potential to serve the public unless it's institutional, economic, and business infrastructure support the autonomy of individual practice.�

To this end the Institute will (1) develop cutting edge events and provide resources to address the critical and emerging issues and competencies important for physical therapists aspiring to, and already in private practice; (2) strive to fill gaps in health policy research and analysis, by providing funding to foster critical health policy projects relevant to physical therapist autonomous practice.�

The Institute has been formed as a 501c (3) corporation, making it an attractive partner to foundations, corporations, government agencies, and individual donors.� As a 501c (3) organization, the Institute, in accomplishing its mission, is able to accept contributions which are tax-deductible for the donor.�

Institute History and Background

In 1955, the APTA Private Practice was created to focus on the needs of physical therapists who own their own practices or who work in private practice settings. Originally named the Self-Employed Section and organized as a component of APTA, APTA Private Practice was subsequently incorporated in 1981 as a 501(c) 6; separate non-profit association to further support its mission, while retaining its relationship with APTA. APTA Private Practice continues to actively pursue its mission "to foster the growth, economic viability and business success of physical therapist-owned practice to benefit the public."�

APTA Private Practice recognizes the many critical issues, obstacles and challenges facing physical therapists, particularly those in private practice. The section's key benefits of legislative advocacy, Impact magazine, practice management resources, and educational programming through ongoing audio casts and webinars, regional continuing educational programming, APTA Private Practice Annual Conference & Exposition, National Student Conclave education session, and APTA's Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) educational sessions, provides valuable physical therapy and business knowledge to its membership. Both APTA Private Practice members and non-members are able to gain new information and knowledge not available from any other source.� �While no one can predict what the future may bring, APTA Private Practice leaders have identified some of the key issues that will shape the profession over the next decade.� These include:�

  • Autonomous Practice� Increasingly physical therapists view "responsibility for their expertise in the provision of health care" or "autonomous practice" as the future path for the profession.� Communication and focused educational programming will be essential to guide the profession to this new professional culture and way of doing business, and to help individual physical therapists from every practice specialty transition to private practice.�
  • Autonomous Profession� The ability of individual therapists to practice autonomously relies upon their professionalism, values, independent judgment, and clinical skills.� But an individual physical therapist cannot develop these alone.� Social, cultural, economic, and legal conditions conducive to autonomous practice are also required.� Such conditions comprise the macro-environment or infrastructure characteristic of an autonomous profession.� Health policy research, analysis, and education are mandatory if physical therapy is to continue evolving as an autonomous profession.�
  • Direct Access� Direct public access to physical therapy services will eventually be won in all 50 states.� Full and unrestricted access will require physical therapists in private practice to develop new management models and enhanced professional skills.� Direct access will also create new private practice opportunities for physical therapists who are currently employed.�
  • Physician-Owned Physical Therapy Services (POPTS)� POPTS and Referral for Profit is directly challenging the economic viability of PT-owned physical therapy services all across the country.� To win this battle, PTs must gain mastery of the business models, marketing, and public relations strategies, and public policy initiatives that will allow autonomous physical therapist practice to thrive.�
  • Public Awareness� Public understanding and awareness of physical therapy is still limited.� Physical therapists in private practice treat patients every day, so they are best positioned to improve public awareness of the profession.� However, specific tools to help private practitioners improve public understanding are needed and are being developed and promoted.�

Given the scope and critical nature of these issues, and the resources needed to respond effectively, the APTA Private Practice concluded that a new organization was necessary to help to tackle these issues. In 2005, the Educational Institute for Private Practice Physical Therapy was formed. In 2010 a name change occurred to enable the Institute to refocus its mission and vision.�

Health Policy Research and Analysis

It is the intent of the Institute to focus on "think tank" programming.� The Graham Sessions is a think-tank event on topics within and affecting the business management of physical therapy practice. The annual Graham Sessions provides an environment where physical therapists from all practice settings can openly and productively engage in discussion, share views, ask questions, and equally important, listen to others.�

The Institute may consider health policy research and analysis proposals or projects.� Potential studies or projects may include updating the Mitchell Study or studying the role of physician owned physical therapy services on patient care outcomes.� These projects will require resources which may come in the form of donations and the Institute may also consider a capital campaign to fund these research projects.�������



Kathryn B. Stenslie , PT, DPT

Vice President

Patrick Graham , PPT, MBA


Stacey Alberts , PT, MS


Michelle Collie , PT, DPT, MS


Alan Balavender , PT


Mike Horsfield , PT, MBA


Heidi Jannenga , PT, DPT, ATC/L


Bill Pfister , PT, DPT


Amy Snyder , MPT, DPT


The formation of the Institute of Private Practice Physical Therapy supports a strategic effort to bring autonomous practice within the reach of every physical therapist.� The Institute will serve as a constantly renewing legacy of immeasurable value to the entire physical therapy profession.