Designing a Home or Work
Space for Therapy
Designing a Home or Work Space for Therapy
Here are some things to consider when
designing your therapy work space.
Here are some things to consider when designing your therapy work space.
According to statistics and members of the Honey Lake Clinic Therapist Network, more than ever, therapists are practicing telehealth either from a home or office space.
Some are choosing to offer some in-person therapy again, and more therapists will possibly do so over time.
Here are some ideas to help when designing either an office or at-home therapy space.
Traditional Office Settings
First, we’ll look at in-office spaces where you will meet with clients, at least part of the time.
These are areas to keep in mind when planning.
- Lighting and space. Some natural light can be helpful to make things comfortable and inviting for clients. It can also help you, especially if you’re working long hours. If you don’t have natural light, consider low or medium lighting to avoid overhead and fluorescent lights. Many people report overhead lights can contribute to migraines and other headaches.
- Organize the area. While many a therapist is a clutterbug, it may be important to plan around this tendency in the office. This can be distracting for clients and may affect your first impression significantly. Keeping things warm but simple works for many therapists.
- Put out comfort items. There’s a balance in professionalism and warmth. You don’t want the office to feel like a visit to the doctor, but you also don’t want it to seem chaotic. Many therapists offer boxes of tissues, as well as stress balls, fidget toys or colored pencils and paper next to the client’s chair.
- Consider offering items like water and snacks. This can be especially important if you work with kids or teens. Many people get anxious in therapy, and water or other beverages may help. Children often come from school, or adults may be rushing from work. Offering snacks such as granola bars or pretzels may be much appreciated, even if clients don’t use them.
- Aim for accessible spaces. While you can sometimes get around requirements to be accessible for clients who have disabilities, this will add some complications. You will need to offer an alternative space for clients who can’t use stairs, and you will need to check with each client to make sure they can access your office. If possible, find a space that’s accessible for everyone.
- Consider privacy of the office. If you are in a busy office building, there may be noise or other offices next door. Test how the sound travels in and out of the office. Many therapists use noise machines strategically placed outside the door and in hallways. Most privacy concerns can be addressed this way.
- Self-Care. And don’t forget, therapists need self-care too!
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There’s a different set of considerations for telehealth areas.
If you are already in a business office setting, then your most immediate needs will be privacy and stable internet access.
You’ll also want a comfortable desk and chair that works for you for long stretches of time.
You may be sitting still and staring at a screen quite a bit, so investment in a comfortable chair may be well worth it.
If you are working from a shared space, such as from a home office or bedroom, here are some other things to plan for.
- You will need to make extra privacy preparations. If you normally share a room with a significant other, or older children are used to roaming free around the house, you will need to set some limits. Consider a sign on the door for when you are in session. You can use the same types of noise machines that you would in a professional setting. Or, you can create your own white noise.
- Consider your visual background. If you are using a video platform, then clients will be able to see inside your home. However, you can limit this concern by facing your computer towards a wall. You can then put a therapy-friendly background there, such as a calming picture or just a solid curtain or wall. Test your video platform to see how much shows up on screen.
- Plan for distractions and possibly more breaks. You’re not as likely to have a family member stop by, or get a random door knock in an office building. People typically understand you are working. This may not be the case in a home work setting. Let people know you are working from home and may need privacy. Schedule breaks to stretch your legs and take the dog out. (With younger kids you’ll likely still need to arrange for day programs or help in the home to watch them.)
- Allow for some flexibility. One of the advantages of a home office is that you aren’t set to certain hours or a commute. You can change things up if you need to. Allow for your schedule to change over time until you find the right rhythm. Also make sure to set boundaries for personal and family time, as it can be easy to work nonstop when there aren’t natural boundaries in place.
While these suggestions are based on common therapist experiences, everyone’s circumstances are different.
You can always try things and change them over time, based on your needs and those of your clients.