If you follow my Facebook page, you may have seen pictures of my “new” office. The physical space is the same one that I have been in for the past six years, but throughout August, our practice group has been renovating our space. We added some color to the walls, added a new office to the suite, thoroughly confounded our office manager, and (drum roll please), I got my very own office. I have shared for years, and this is the first time in my career that I have had total control over everything in a space. From the wall color to the furniture to the sounds and smells–everything in this office is my choice.
I’m sure that some of you are wondering why this event merits a blot post.
Well, for one thing I’m really excited about it. And for another, this post is my effort to help you understand some of the inner workings of therapy. I have done therapy in all kinds of spaces, and a dedicated space isn’t necessary to create a powerful therapeutic relationship. It’s not necessary, but a good therapy space can enhance the experience of comfort and safety, which are key building blocks to therapeutic relationships that work.
And since this space is entirely mine, I have had the joy of creating a space that is full of my intentions for my clients–intentions for comfort, safety, and healing. People do hard work in therapy, so I believe that the space should feel as supportive and comfortable as possible. My couch and chairs were chosen because they are comfortable and welcoming. I chose two swivel chairs so that my clients have the choice of sitting in a chair or on the couch. I remind my clients often that they are in control of their therapy experience, and I want the office space to reflect that. My pillows were chosen for their ability to double as squeezable stress management tools. My movers thought I was nuts because one of my questions as we placed furniture was, “Is there somewhere to set tissues close to that seat?” I have been collecting small pieces of artwork (finger labyrinths, sculpture, & more) for years,waiting for the right space to share them. My cabinets hold a blanket for extra comfort, crayons & markers for doodling, and other “to-be-touched” objects. Sometimes, having a way to occupy your hands makes it easier to get through a tough discussion. My clients know that they are welcome to use the blanket, play with the “toys”, take off their shoes–in other words, that my office is “their” space. I am so excited when I see that ownership.
The final reason I’m talking about my office space is this: you deserve to be in a therapeutic space and a therapeutic relationship that feels welcoming, caring, and warm. Don’t hesitate to be an informed consumer. Ask for phone consultations before you schedule an appointment with a new provider. Trust your instincts about whether or not you feel comfortable and supported in a therapeutic relationship. When you have a sense of safety and ownership, you will get the most out of your therapy experience.