FP fans, meet Brenda Cunningham, an art therapist in Hanover, PA!
1) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF YOUR THERAPY OFFICE?
Tranquil, calming, soothing, open. Simple, flexible and comfortable.
2) WHAT VIBE DO YOU HOPE YOUR OFFICE GIVES YOUR THERAPY CLIENTS?
Safe, open, relaxing atmosphere, and hopefully they will be inspired to create in it.
3) DO YOU HAVE ANY CREATURE COMFORTS IN YOUR OFFICE FOR CLIENTS?
A cozy fireplace, beverages in the fridge, I have 3 ottomans in the lounge that hide fidget and sensory toys in their storage compartments.
I believe in sensory needs, so I have the comforts of tranquil sounds (Pandora’s Zen channel, and the small water fountain), scented wax burners that aromatically promote focus and relaxation, and different tactile options (different textured pillows, throw blanket, fidget toys, art materials).
Maybe one day I’ll have a therapy dog, but my current dog doesn’t qualify.:(
4) WHO DESIGNED AND DECORATED YOUR THERAPY OFFICE? DID YOU GET HELP FROM PROFESSIONALS, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, OR FAMILY?
I made all of the choices and decisions myself. I had a lot of help with the labor and execution though.
The landlord renovated some of the space prior to my lease, as it used to be a bank, and it was not rentable as it was. They tore down walls and built one wall with the doorway to my now office. The landlords also ran a water line and fixed all of the drop ceiling tiles, other than that, it was bare bones.
My husband and I installed all the cabinets, sink in the main area, portable sink in the therapy room, the fireplace, and the refrigerator in the kitchen. We had to scrape the concrete floor prior to floor installation, and remove wallpaper, scrape and prep walls for patching, sanding, priming and painting.
Many late nights and sore muscles to get it all complete in about 1 month, for grand opening!
5) ANY ADVICE FOR THERAPISTS WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT AND DESIGNING THEIR OFFICE FOR THE FIRST TIME, OR SEASONED THERAPISTS LOOKING TO REDESIGN THEIR OFFICES?
Simplify = less clutter = more relaxing.
Pick something you like! It’s your space, you should feel happy and comfortable in it. That will carry over to your clients too.
Consider sensory needs. If it’s windowless add bright colors and more lighting. If the air circulation is poor, add a fan somewhere. Consider aromatherapy, tactile options, and sounds. If it’s noisy, find ways to sound proof the room and add tranquil music and/or water features.
Light therapy is essential also. Giving the eyes a place to rest and/or gaze at something relaxing is something to strongly consider. Maybe a painting that you can change out from time to time, or if you’re bold, a beautiful mural as a focus point.
Usually color scenarios that occur in nature are a good resource. My space has bright summer sky blues, earthy browns, and neutral gray to let colors and artwork pop. My kitchen and bathroom were warmed up with a creamy yellow/orange derivative.
I also believe in quality over quantity, as well as durability and functionality. When I invest in furniture or something, I want it to fit, be comfortable, and last a long time.
However, I am brand new to the small business ownership scene and funds are tight. I re-purposed a lot of old furniture and gave it new life and purpose. I even made my kitchen table from the materials left in the space by the previous tenants.
There are people giving away furniture for free out there! A little elbow grease and some fresh paint and hardware, or a cover and it’s a brand new item or has a new function.
Things I had to buy, I made it count! Like the wall paint, and flooring. Durable yet elegant.
© Fresh Practice
Brenda Cunningham is an Art Therapist (ATR-BC) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with a practice in Hanover, PA…
She is registered and board certified as an Art Therapist. Her studio-based business model, Art Therapy Studios, is located in the South Central region of Pennsylvania in Hanover, only a few miles above the Maryland state line.