BlogUnderstanding Therapy

Creating Space: An Inside Peek

View from the couch

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.

The sand garden is a favorite–nearly everyone re-designs it.

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 first piece of artwork for my walls is a Celtic knot symbolizing healing relationships.

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.

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10 comments

  1. The insights to your choices makes me wish I could see it and experience it in person. I personally believe space can impact us. Sounds like you have created a wonderful supportive space.

    1. JoAnn,

      I’d love to have you see it in person–maybe we can connect the next time you’re this far north. 🙂

      Warmly,
      Ann

  2. How wonderful that you’ve been able to create such a welcoming, safe space! It’s helpful to read about the decisions you made with an eye towards an even better therapeutic process for clients.

    1. Rachelle,

      It has been so fun to do this. I am a little sucked in to the “office-creating” space. I need to remind myself that I don’t have to get it to “done” right away, that it can grow organically.

      Warmly,
      Ann

  3. Congratulations on making your space entirely your own. I think it helps clients feel more like they are in a home when you feel like you are in your home (away from home). I love the gentle greens and purples. I would never have imagined those two colors would go well together, but they create a warm and welcoming space. Beautiful. And I love the touchy stuff. I have a set of ball magnents on a base and a small sand garden with shells. People love to play with them while they talk. Gives them something to do with their hands. Enjoy your own personal space and thanks for sharing it.

    1. Barb,

      I am getting some consistent feedback about how much people enjoy the “touchy things.” In fact, I may start collecting some other small manipulatives, so that there is a range of choice. Thanks for your feedback and for your good thoughts!

      Warmly,
      Ann

  4. Hi Ann,
    Congratulations on your own office. I like the idea of having things for people to manipulate as well. And I really like that sand garden. Not a great idea for me as I see young children, tho. I have a basket of plush puppets that children an adults enjoy. The relationship is most important, but the physical space often reflects the therapist. Yours reflects a commitment to supporting hard work.
    Best,
    Carolyn

    1. Carolyn,

      Thanks so much. Yes, I can see where the sand garden and kids could be a train wreck–my kids almost dumped it on the day we set up the office. I got such a big smile on my face when I read this sentence: “Yours reflects a commitment to supporting hard work.” What a lovely compliment. Thank you.

      Warmly,
      Ann

  5. What a welcoming and nurturing space! I understand your excitement and need to share. I hope to have a space of my own one day as well. I love the idea of having touchable “toys” for clients, too. Congratulations!

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