Part of what you are giving to the client is not only your presence, but “place”. Place is a space set up for a specific or particular purpose. And so, the hope is that we will create an office environment that is both inviting and hospitable to our clients and their process. In other words, your office is not separate from you therapy, but an integral part of the therapy. Consequently, setting up or redoing your office is an important and should be thought out in a similar fashion to your theoretical orientation.
As you set up or rethink your space, it is important to think about a few things. The first is your budget. Many a small business owners attempt to deck their office with expensive furniture and decorations, which either takes up a large portion of their reserve cash or becomes an overhead expense if they put it on credit. So, start with a budget and work to stay in it. There are plenty of cheap ways to cut costs and not skimp on the overall feng shui of your office. There are plenty of second hand stores to get quality furniture at a discount. Craigslist is a good place to find things and Pintrest or some other DIY website can give you ideas for rehabbing some old furniture or decorations you have around the house. There is something to be said for expending your energy to creating the space and the things that go in that space as you work to make a hospitable space for you client.
The second thing to think about are the actual objects in your office. Everything has an emotional import. For example, if you have a large desk prominently set up in your office and you see adolescents, the room could feel similar to the principle’s office. Paintings with cool colors and a beautiful beach can be calming to a client. Books that you have on your shelves will carry meaning for clients. They will look at the titles and make assumptions about you and about your therapy. I have even had clients ask, “You moved your books around, where is such and such book?” This is because they are studying the room around them in an attempt to determine if the environment is safe. Of course, it is possible to overanalyze everything in your office, but it is important to be purposeful.
The last thing is to make the room yours. Use things you like. Find colors that are inviting and hospitable to you. Make sure that the room feels comfortable to you. If it feels awkward and or “blah”, it will affect your mood and your presence. You are going to spend a lot of hours in this room, you might as well like it. Have others you know give you feedback about your office and see if they feel like the room is “you”. Also, be open to the feedback of you clients. They will make comments about things in an attempt to make the space more hospitable for them. By listening to your own aesthetic and your clients you will both create a place where lasting change has space to be birthed.